October 13, 2015

"I live knowing that whatever my blackness means to me can be at odds with what it means to certain white observers, at any moment."

"So I live with two identities: mine and others’ perceptions of it. So much of blackness evolving has been limited to whiteness allowing it to evolve, without white people accepting that they are in the position of granting permission. Allowing. If that symbiotic dynamic is going to change, white people will need to become more conscious that they, too, can be perceived."

So writes Wesley Morris in a long New York Times Magazine article "The Year We ObsessedOver Identity" with the long subtle: "2015's headlines and cultural events have confronted us with the malleability of racial, gender, sexual and reputational lines. Who do we think we are?" The article has some topics that I've covered on this blog over the year — Rachel Dolezal, Atticus Finch — but the reason I wanted to blog this is that it ends talking about a book that I happened to notice for the first time yesterday, "Far From the Tree," by Andrew Solomon. Here's how Wesley Morris uses that book:
It could be that... it’s... in our natures to keep trying to change, to discover ourselves. In ‘‘Far From the Tree,’’ Andrew Solomon’s landmark 2012 book about parenting and how children differentiate themselves, he makes a distinction between vertical and horizontal identity. The former is defined by traits you share with your parents, through genes and norms; the latter is defined by traits and values you don’t share with them, sometimes because of genetic mutation, sometimes through the choice of a different social world. The emotional tension in the book’s scores of stories arises from the absence of love for or empathy toward someone with a pronounced or extreme horizontal identity — homosexuality or autism or severe disability. Solomon is writing about the struggle to overcome intolerance and estrangement, and to better understand disgust; about our comfort with fixed, established identity and our distress over its unfixed or unstable counterpart.

38 comments:

J. Farmer said...

"So I live with two identities: mine and others’ perceptions of it."

This is true of everybody.

SMGalbraith said...

"It is an undeniable privilege of every man to prove himself right in the thesis that the world is his enemy; for if he reiterates it frequently enough and makes it the background of his conduct he is bound eventually to be right."

From another man in a another time. But still relevant.

Bob Ellison said...

Yeah, really. J. Farmer has it. This is a "get over yourself" moment printed and online for everyone to laugh at.

Michael K said...

Has anyone asked Ben Carson his opinion ? He terrifies the left and the reason is in this book. Clarence Thomas does, too. But Thomas was appointed by a white man, Bush. Carson is pure accomplishment.

Sebastian said...

@Ellison and farmer: "Yeah, really. J. Farmer has it. This is a "get over yourself" moment"

You're right, of course. But you're also wrong: as long as the blacks-are-special meme, with double consciousness behind the veil and all that jazz, serves a Prog purpose and gets you more of Other People's Money, it will continue. So it will continue for a long time.

Chris N said...

I'll bring this to my next coffee-party group.

Anyone here an autistic, transgender psychopath?

Two lumps of empathy, please.

No Labels. No names on the cups.

Fernandinande said...

"Black black blackity black." Repeat ad nauseam.

MRG said...

"without white people accepting that they are in the position of granting permission."

Note to black people: white people have a life of their own.

Terry said...

Why do Black people, like this writer, define themselves in terms of how they relate to white people? White people don't define themselves on how they relate to Black people. Asians don't define themselves on how they relate to white people or to Hispanics. Most people don't think "this is how, a person of race x, need to see myself in terms of of the person of race y." It's like they got some fatal attraction thing going.

chickelit said...

The emotional tension in the book’s scores of stories arises from the absence of love for or empathy toward someone with a pronounced or extreme horizontal identity — homosexuality or autism or severe disability.

A well-rounded personality requires depth, breadth, and height. Man cannot live by breadth alone.

madAsHell said...

So I live with two identities: mine and others’ perceptions of it.

Because Jesse Jackson has told me that your shit sandwich tastes better than mine.

AllenS said...

It's only after reading articles like this, that one can really appreciate people like Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams and Ben Carson.

Wesley Morris gots nothing.

Shouting Thomas said...

Another repetition of the depraved professor's "I'm a nigger and my son is a nigger" con job.

Gaming the system has been fag hag Althouse's life work. Idle, rich white woman with a bitch. Ripping off the black civil rights movement, quoting Dylan while she's dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars of lifetime indebtedness on kids and blathering about freedom... what a calculating, greedy asshole!

Lately, she's disturbed that the young 'uns don't accept that the pretending your a nigger racket was supposed to end with her and her son.

What a depraved, evil, rotten fag hag is the professor.

(Note, the fact that others recognize just how depraved, evil and rotten you are, doesn't indicate that you are oppressed or that you are right in claiming you're a nigger. You really are depraved, evil and rotten. And, no, you're not a nigger and neither is your son.)

Brando said...

Writers like this might be surprised to discover just how seldom white people actually think about their race. And most white and black people are far more concerned with their day to day lives than this racialist nonsense.

Start thinking of yourself and your fellow citizens as people, rather than part of racial groups. It might just enlighten you and free you from your self-created prison.

amielalune said...

Sorry, but anyone who can make it through this drivel has way too much time on his/her hands.

Michael said...

Actually out in the real world nobody at all gives a shit about any of this.

Terry said...

I think the point Reynolds is making is that a policy that makes college professors uncomfortable is not always bad policy.

Robert Michael Culhane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron Winkleheimer said...

Actually, all of us are three people.

1) The person we perceive ourself as
2) The person everyone else perceives us as
3) The person we actually are

As J Farmer said, she is describing the human condition. A rather obvious and trite observation at that.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

So I live with two identities: mine and others’ perceptions of it.

And that's unique to black people (excuse me, to those who live with blackness)?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Brando said...
Writers like this might be surprised to discover just how seldom white people actually think about their race.


Well, but that's the problem, right? If non-Leftist don't think about identified minority group X (blacks, women, transgendered, whatever), then that's an expression of non-Leftists' privilege and just shows how far we as a nation have to come. If non-Leftits DO think about group X but don't fully agree with the Leftist line on that group (wholly victims of racist patriarchy, beaten down by rape culture, whatever) then that shows how bigoted/racist/sexist/horrible the non-Leftists are, and how far we as a nation still have to come.
Ignoring or not thinking about minority groups the Left has deemed important is certainly how most non-SJW (to include most moderate Leftists, I'd bet) go through life, but it's not something that can ever be admitted. Thoughtcrime.

William said...

Althouse has to live with her perception of herself and that of Shouting Thomas. It's not that great a challenge. In like way, a black person who's grounded in their own self worth should be able to negotiate a traffic stop with an overbearing cop without going all Rosa Parks over the incident.

William said...

In the nineteenth century Germans were stereotyped as musicians, philosophers and forest lovers. In the twentieth century, Germans became bigots, martinets, and war lovers. I don't know what the current stereotype is. I do think, however, that these stereotypes were not so much inflicted on the Germans as embraced and nourished by them.......Why are Germans the only people of whom it is respectable to hold a negative view?

Shouting Thomas said...

@Robert Michael Culhane said...

No, the problem is Althouse's fucking "I'm a nigger and my son is a nigger" act.

It's despicable.

The woman is a fucking idiot. She could be doing anything with her time. She's chosen to obsess over S&M fag hag office politics. Apparently, she's such a fucking idiot that she can't find a more useful purpose than this fucking idiot S&M fag hag office politics obsession.

You're just the usual fucking moron. And, I've played at Bethel quite a few times.

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill said...

Go to confession, Thomas.

Fernandinande said...

William said...
Why are Germans the only people of whom it is respectable to hold a negative view?


Q: Why is there no Disneyland in China?
A: No one's tall enough to go on the good rides.

damikesc said...

it. So much of blackness evolving has been limited to whiteness allowing it to evolve, without white people accepting that they are in the position of granting permission. Allowing. If that symbiotic dynamic is going to change, white people will need to become more conscious that they, too, can be perceived.

Are black activists incapable of realizing that white folks don't give the first iota of a rat's damn about what they think?

And, when you see "Black privilege" seminars that blacks are forced to attend, then when we can talk.

Why are Germans the only people of whom it is respectable to hold a negative view?

As a Southerner, I can say you are incorrect.

Michael K said...

The black obsession with "whiteness" is limited to American blacks. Those from Africa or the Caribbean, in my own experience with medical students, have no issues about this.They are just happy to have the opportunity and wonder at the American blacks' self-destructive navel gazing. I have interviewed kids from Africa joining the US military who have a whole plan about what they are going to do and how the GI Bill will help them with college once they get out of the army and get their citizenship. They have absolutely no concern about racism. They know that if it has any effect at all, it will be beneficial to them.

It is so sad that so many American black kids buy into this leftist trope that they are inferior and need white help to overcome the racism of the other, non left, whites.

Brando said...

"Why are Germans the only people of whom it is respectable to hold a negative view?"

What about the English, the French, the Russians, the Italians, the Poles...?

And of course you can hold a negative view of certain groups if you are in an oppressed class. You can mock Spaniards if you are Mexican, and you can mock the Japanese if you are from another Asian country. You can mock Jews as long as you're not a white Christian. If you're black you can mock everyone.

Char Char Binks said...

I'd care about this, but I'm all niggered out.

Unknown said...

I wonder if a black guy in a white environment feels uncomfortable or unsafe? And a white guy in a black environment?

How about a black guy in a black environment? I'd guess that (like white guys in white environments) the answer really depends on more than skin color, but that's all we seems to talk about.

n.n said...

Perception, promoted with sufficient leverage, establishes reality.

Michael K said...

"black guy in a white environment feels uncomfortable or unsafe? "

You have to be taught this, as the song in South Pacific goes. African blacks are fine.

"How about a black guy in a black environment?"

“There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved. . . . After all we have been through. Just to think we can’t walk down our own streets, how humiliating.”

–Jesse Jackson

LarsPorsena said...

"...So much of blackness evolving has been limited to whiteness allowing it to evolve, without white people accepting that they are in the position of granting permission..."

White's aren't 'allowing'; they are indifferent.

Kirk Parker said...

"How about a black guy in a black environment?"

I'm white, so you'd have to ask the Hutus and Tutsis, (or more recently, the Dinka and Nuer) about that.

SJ said...

For some reason, I feel like this ought to be edited. Just to see how the reader responds.

I live knowing that whatever my [Religious Conservative background] means to me can be at odds with what it means to certain [non-religious] observers, at any moment.

Can we try again?

I live knowing that whatever my [traditional sexual ethics] means to me can be at odds with what it means to certain [non-traditional] observers, at any moment.

Let's see...

I live knowing that whatever my [carrying of a concealed weapon] means to me can be at odds with what it means to certain [non-carrying] observers, at any moment.

Not that these all apply to myself.

I think I'm agreeing with @JFarmer above.

The degree, and trouble of this kind of difference-of-perception isn't the same for each of us. But it is part of the human condition.

Drago said...

Garage once knew a black guy. In a "good" way..