Violence and Race: Penn Museum Live

Streamed live on Nov 16, 2016

Race is not a scientific concept, yet racism is real in American society. Race is a powerful social idea that gives people differential access to opportunities and resources. Violence has been racialized in the United States, as seen in crime statistics and as reinforced by the news media. This session explores the cultural and sociological consequences of race-based violence.

Speakers include
John Hollway, Ph.D.
Erin Kerrison, Ph.D
Oliver Rollins, Ph.D.
Christen Smith, Ph.D.
Deborah A. Thomas,
and moderator Ph.D. Sara Lomax-Reese

Learn more at http://www.penn.museum/race

The Penn Museum at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia has launched the Digital Penn Museum, a platform for their collections, recorded lectures, and hundreds of films from expeditions across the world. As an institution focused on archaeology and anthropology, the portal offers improved accessibility to its resources on global history and culture.

Like many museums that are increasing their online engagement, the Digital Penn Museum is aimed at expanding the audience for its programming and collections beyond the physical space of the institution. For instance, it features over 200 lectures recorded since 2010 on such subjects as the early-20th-century Piltdown fossil hoax, and flood, myth, and magic in early Mesopotamia, as well as the “Great Riddles in Archaeology” series.

 

TOP PHOTO: Archive

The World’s Congested Human Migration Routes in 5 Maps

The desperate men, women, and children flooding into Europe from the Middle East and Africa are not the only people moving along ever-shifting and dangerous migration routes. Last year saw the highest levels of global forced displacement on record—59.5 million individuals left their homes in 2014 due to “persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations” according to the United Nations. That’s 8.3 million more people than the year before.

KEEP READING: The World’s Congested Human Migration Routes in 5 Maps

When the oppressed turn into oppressors

Parenting & internalised racism

OP-ED by Guilaine Kinouani: Founder-Race Reflections (U.K.)

 

The privilege of being lighter skinned

I am a lighter skinned Black woman.  I am light enough to benefit from shadism but dark enough to still be accepted as Black.  A uniquely privileged position.  Throughout my upbringing I have received messages in my environment that this made me more desirable, more worthy, and/or more significant than my darker skinned counterparts.  These messages were both covert and overt and articulated in the home and outside the home, at school, in the media etc… Pretty much everywhere.   There is no doubt that I was, at times, spoken to in kinder voices or treated with more patience than my darker skinned peers or sisters by both people of colour and by White people, all things being equal.  In time, I have learnt that my femininity and womanhood would be more easily accepted.

That my humanity would be slightly less frequently questioned.  Giving birth to a darker skinned girl forced me to revisit some of these unearned privileges. It brought home to me that because I was and would be treated with more consideration; my daughter would invariably be treated in more problematic ways, more often.  I had to grieve over the fact that whatever little respite and refuge my lighter skin had afforded me, would not be enjoyed by her, that I had not transmitted these privileges to her.  This was painful.  It was scary too.  The thought of her going through even more hardship because of the darker shade of her skin was difficult to come to terms with.   It led me to wonder about the role of parents in the process of internalisation of racism.  It also made me confront my own internalised racism.

Parenting and internalised racism

Some see internalised racism as one of the most common yet least studied features of racism.  The subject is fraught with taboo, shame and avoidance leading to many misconceptions and unmet psychological needs.  Most people of colour would have grown up in houses within which the narratives of ‘working harder’, ‘being smarter’, would be repeatedly enacted.  ‘You have to be twice as good as your White equivalent to simply be deemed good enough to stand underneath him/her’ or words to that effect will likely resonate with many non-whites.   Similarly, it is not unusual for Black parents to mirror (consciously or otherwise) the harsh treatment society befalls onto Blacks males.  To respond with punishing harshness to any lapse in conduct or behaviour, particularly those associated with racial stereotypes.  Out of fear that negative societal expectations and the dreaded stereotypes may materialise.

I have on occasions caught myself looking at my sons’ behaviour through the contemptuous gaze of society.  Perhaps too I have in these moments responded more harshly than necessary in an effort to help ensure my boys would not fall victim of others’ prejudices.  In other families, children may be asked to avoid partnering with darker skinned individuals or coached into distancing themselves from their minoritized or cultural identities or to put the needs and experiences of White people above their own.   Though in good faith, the violence contained within such parenting practices is worth reflecting upon. In essence in our efforts to compensate for racism, we socialise children into injustice, compliance and complicity and instil a sense of inferiority in them. In doing so we may limit children’s scope to be themselves.  We may reduce our capacity to respond to them with compassion and kindness.  We may attend to stereotypes of what our children could be or could be seen as, rather than attending to them as unique persons. In a nutshell, we may contribute to racism’s self-fulfilling prophecies, perpetuate racial inequalities and more worryingly, may increase their risk of psychological  distress.

The perpetuation of oppression is everyone’s business

Nevertheless, it would be ridiculous to blame or demonise parents for their wanting to increase the survival chances and life opportunities of their children or to prepare them for the racism they will encounter so as to minimize its effects.  Internalising racism is adaptive.  It is no pathology.  It is no personality, genetic or biological flaw.  Nor is it the consequence or evidence of inferiority in the oppressed.  So where does it originate from and what function might it serve?  Foucault proposed that the construction of reality through the production of ideologies or knowledge is controlled by the dominant group and circulated throughout society.  This construction is posited to inform social norms, common sense and all aspects of organisational and structural life.

The fundamental consequence of such knowledge transmission is that the interests of the oppressors are presented as actually reflecting everyone’s best interests so that those who are oppressed come to internalise the dominant group’s interests as their own.  The ‘double bind’ experience has been used to make sense of internalised racism.  It refers to the illusionary and implicit promise by the dominant group that oppressed groups can escape the consequences of their otherness by disowning their ‘difference’.  It lures racial minorities into agreeing to the very rules which Other them. In essence, the double bind exclaim: ‘become more like us and you too will have access to structures of power, you will become one of us’.  A tempting proposition for anyone, particularly for racialised parents eager to shelter children from the impact of racial oppression.  The trouble however is, that achieving the promise of the double bind is impossible. This is because the construction of a superior class is dependent upon the existence of an inferior one.

Making internalised racism the problem of racialised or oppressed group is a further act of violence. Essentially this equates not only to victim-blaming but also to erasing the very fact that the dominant group remains both the primary beneficiary and source of such internalisation.  It is akin to saying ‘you need to be like us to be human or not to be Other’ whilst similarly positing ‘trying to be like us is evidence that you are not human or that you are Other’.  A ‘lose lose’ tautologically absurd proposition.

Being a parent is the toughest job on the planet.

Parenting in the mist of oppression and marginalisation is even harder.  Perhaps it is time that we collectively stopped shying away from internalised racism and gave it the clinical and empirical attention it deserves.  For mental health professionals this would naturally entail sharing a little bit of power and giving away some privileges. The privileges of not knowing, of not understanding or perhaps of not wanting to understand.

Thank you for reading.

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All work published on Race Reflections is the intellectual property of its writers. Please do not reproduce, republish or repost any content from this site without express written permission from Race Reflections.  If you wish to repost this article, please see the contact section for further details. SOURCE I can be contacted via Twitter @KGuilaine.

[Editors Note: Please read the comments on the original blog post which are very interesting…Trace]