Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Solo Book Club-The New Jim Crow Meeting #1


Adaptation and Transformation in Racism


I stated a few weeks ago that my next book for The Solo Book Club would be Michelle Alexanders’s The New Jim Crow.  I decided that I would share just a few quotes from the chapters as I go along. I’m also going to making comments about how I felt and what those quotes caused me to think about it. So here goes the first installment of quotes, thoughts, and feelings.  Let me know if reading these has encouraged you to read the book yourself and make your own understandings.  I’d like to hear what you think.


Quote #1:

“Any candid observer of American racial history must acknowledge that racism is highly adaptable.  The rules and reasons the political system employs to enforce status relations of any kind, including racial hierarchy, evolve and change as they are challenged. The valiant efforts to abolish slavery and Jim Crow and to achieve greater racial equality have brought about significant changes in the legal framework of American society -- new “rules of the game,” so to speak.  These new rules have been justified by new rhetoric, new language,  and a new social consensus, while producing many of the same results. This dynamic, which legal scholar Reva Siegel has dubbed “preservation through transformation,” is the process through which white privilege is maintained, though the rules and rhetoric change.”(21)

This quote hit me so hard. I have spent a good amount of time lately thinking about the adaptation and transformation that the people of the African Diaspora go through; Sometimes to reinforce our strength, sometimes to survive, sometimes simply because we can.  I have never thought that there was adaptation and transformation occurring on the other side of equality as well.  After reading this short passage it seems silly to not have thought that.  But I suppose it was simply a blind spot of mine.  And we all have those. But, think.  We are all involved in this ever changing cycle and struggle to gain more privilege on one side and on the other to gain equality.  But if we don’t take the time to educate ourselves in what has previously occurred, we will repeat the past, and we will repeat the cycle.  

1 Reva Siegel, “Why Equal Protection no Longer Protects: The Evolving Forms of Status-Enforcing Actions,” Stanford Law Review 49 (1997):1111; see also Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial Romation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s (New York; Routledge, 1996), 84-91.



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