I think this week’s readings largely fall under the themes of erasure and resistance. Identity in Mashpee highlights how the American legal system forced themselves on the indigenous Mashpee community via definitions of culture and “tribe” hundreds of years after Europeans who would become Americans forced themselves onto them with guns and the plague. The selections from Media Effects, though not particularly surprising to me because I have a long-standing academic and personal investment in issues of whitewashing and limited representation of POC on television, is an example of systematic erasure at the hands of widely disseminated stereotypes and political agenda setting (which are veiled, often with very little effort, under the guise of news and entertainment.) Cultural Appropriations of Technical Capital speaks to the resistance to popular negative narratives that occurs when black women can create safe spaces for their voices and stories.
No not this. Although its ties to both race and technology are quite interesting:
- Hashtags promoting the song flash frequently across the screen
- The internet created a forum for people to speak out against the blatant support of rape culture in the song’s lyrics
- Robin Thicke is a ultra-white singer (Yes, I said ultra-white: he’s Canadian and his father is this guy) who appropriates black music and is currently suing the family of music icon Marvin Gaye.
The blurred lines I am referring to are those that delineate, contain and categorize (or at least try to) cultural identity. I intend to spend the rest of this post focusing on the Mashpee piece, which highlights erasure through the act of violence that is being forced to define yourself using parameters of a power structure that has dedicated itself to your annihilation for hundreds of years, and the Brock piece which looks at how everyday black women work to blur the lines trying to circumscribe them.
A Tribe Called What?
I was initially unsure why this rather dense historical look at land ownership of indigenous Americans in Massachusetts was relevant to our course, but I understand now it’s importance. For one thing, this piece helps us to look at race and identity outside of the black-white binary and secondly it provides a lot of insight into how the enforcement of white supremacy can be deployed to force POC to conform their cultural identity to mainstream, often racist narratives. The case that Clifford discusses is incredibly important because it points to the precariousness of being a person of color in the United States. This is a country that used to count slaves as 3/5 of a person and reserves a national holiday for racist who got lost and then was responsible for a genocide and this was a trial that at its very core was pondering the very existence of a group of people.
Black Girls Blog
Clearly a passion of mine, black women using the internet to connect to each other and discuss black womanhood on their own terms is incredibly valuable and I think that this study could have done a better job at being inclusive to a variety of black experiences. Firstly, these posts were all written as a response to the Andrews article- I’d be more interested in the analysis of posts that were more organic in their creation and development. I also feel that evaluating definitions of black womanhood based on posts about marriage is inherently classist, as women of lower socioeconomic status or those who don’t “have it all” are eliminated from the conversation. There is also of course the fact that when this was written when women who wanted to marry women could not participate in this conversation in the same way because their unions were widely unrecognized/ illegal.
The following questions about this article still remain:
- Is it sexist or limiting to try to evaluate definitions of womanhood through the lens of marriage? Especially given the fact that, as it was pointed out in the article, relationships within the black community have not been hyper-focused on resulting in marriage.
- This article for me raises the question of how often black women talk freely on other posts on mainstream outlets like Jezebel with at times shaky relationships with race?
- Must all “counter-hegemonic ways of knowing and coping skills” be deemed “Afrocentric”? And also what does that word really mean?