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September 2017

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My new job gives me lots of time to listen to podcasts, so I listened to the Chapo Trap House episode on the critique of Coates' book. (For what it's worth, I'd only vaguely heard of this podcast before, and only started reading up on them today. They appear to have some beef with Sady Doyle? Sarah Jeong? I dunno.)

Anyway, the critique makes the following points:

1. Coates uses the word "bodies" too much and it's dehumanizing.
2. Coates focuses too much on reparations, which doesn't do anything for most black people, and is also an easy out for white people to handwring and not do anything about the actual problems of racism.
3. Not enough class critique.
4. Basically it's overly pessimistic and he doesn't value the Civil Rights movement enough.

I think I'm going to have to re-read the book, since I don't really remember getting those impressions. I do agree on the overuse of "bodies", though - that was a bit much.

I'm not comfortable with Stephens "it all comes down to class" viewpoint.
toastykitten: (Default)
I found this 30 Day Meme tumblr, so I'm going to pull some out to do some to just get myself writing something. No guarantees of actually finishing everything.

First one I'm doing is the book one: 30 days of books.

Day 01 – Best book you read last year

Oh man...did I even read anything last year? 
It looks like I read Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between The World And Me. It was beautiful and painful, and I should probably re-read it to see if there's anything new to glean from it, especially after reading so many terrible critiques of it, ranging from "it's classist" to "it's too pessimistic". I think there was a decent one I found on Metafilter, (but I can't find it right now, and it's not the Jacobin one that rants about how he should support Bernie Sanders (newsflash: he already said he was voting for him)). Maybe it was another Jacobin one. Anyway, I think the critique laid out some of Coates' blind spots pretty clearly, and says basically that he doesn't give enough credit to the politics of organization, and says that he focuses too much on individual injustices at the expense of collective action. I think. I think there was a podcast where they discussed it further? Maybe Chapo Trap House? 


The Birthmark of Damnation: Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Black Body.

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Hell, I am actually considering subscribing to The Atlantic because of him. Look at the stuff he says:

If you told me that 100 percent of the Boule, the Links and Jack and Jill look down on lower-class black folks, indeed, believe that they deserve to be where they are, I'd argue. But I'm a man who still laughs at "Niggers vs. Black people. And Jack And Jill can spot my ghetto-ass a mile away. I'd argue, but not because I took offense.

When you're not on the business end of an -ism, it's always easy to underestimate the malice of its employers. When you're a part of that class of employers, it becomes even easier.
You know what this is. I've written repeatedly about how racism can be a problem in a society with seemingly no racists, how racism--out of all the isms--became the province of cannibals, ogres, people existing one rung above the rapist, and child molester. Some of this is our fault--dramatizing the depravity of Southern racists was a brilliant political strategy. But the unexpected upshot is that whites who know they'd never sic a dog on a kid for the crime of crossing a street, can sit at home and say "Well if that's racism, I know I'm not that." It'd be as if our thoughts of sexism revolved strictly around honor-killings and rape. Perhaps they do.

Black people who go out into the wider world don't have the luxury of thinking about racists strictly as societal outcasts, any more than women have the luxury of thinking about sexists strictly as rapists. The society is changing, no question. The world is a less racist place. But this is coming from a start of being an intensely, intrinsically racist place.

(Bolding mine.)

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