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Emily Bernard's "Prologue: the riddle of race"

Presentation of key points from Bernard's article published in Patterns of Prejudice, 45:1-2, 2011

Sarah Anderson

on 24 October 2012

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Transcript of Emily Bernard's "Prologue: the riddle of race"

Thursday, Oct. 25:

Emily Bernard:
"Prologue: The riddle of race"

and Caucasia Patterns of Prejudice (45:1-2) 2011 Color Blinders Caucasia What view of race does Senna provide for her readers? How does this novel contribute to our understanding of race in terms of representations of the female body? How does the novel conclude? "No more excuses" Difference is bad? "Obama Black" Tara "RACE
is a fiction...
[but that] does not rob it of meaning....
Race is an invention, but that doesn't make it untrue. Is race a social construct? How do we define "race"? Racelessness Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier
-president of Haiti (1959-1971) "Why do we have to talk about all of these things that divide us, like race? Why can't we talk about what brings us together?" Story: of a child examining her hand, seeing the differences between them before the child's father pulled the child back. "Obama gave [voters] an opportunity to practice the colour blindness that had theretofore been only a belief" (14). 1. 1. 1. Interview with a white American Journalist:
Q: "What percentage of your population is white?"
A: "98%"

Q: "How do you define white?"
A: "How do you define black?"
(Explained one-drop rule.)
A: "Well, that's the way we define white in my country." If race is a social construct, why are we still discussing race? "When we use [race] to narrate our experience in the world, we take the easy way out, and neglect other factors that name and place us.... [O]ur real lives are the intersections, where race meets class meets gender and so on" (9). "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Noble dream, degenerated into a cliche "At best, what the civil rights movement appears to have produced is a generation that is keen to look beyond race but finds on the other side not liberation but confusion" (10). Bernard sees a trend where people are afraid to talk about race; whereby admitting that you see race means you are a racist (10). Can we teach our children to see
difference as pleasure? Can we teach them that there is no answer to the riddle of race, and maybe the solution is to enjoy the riddle itself? "Obama isn't black"
-Debra Dickerson "Obama's blackness is not the blackness of the black power movement, during which the terrain of the black body itself was a primary site of revolutionary ambitions." "In the complex nature of his ancestry, and in the fact that his allegiance to blackness is, in some ways, an active, rather than a passive, choice, there is no one more authentically black than Barack Obama." "His body is a bridge across generational, national, and racial boundaries." "His story is a story about black progress, a revision of the classic story of deficiency" (13). "The clasp of their hands represents the bridge across several divides, but also the divides themselves. In this moment, they are two black men joined together by race; and they are two black men who couldn't be more different.

In this photograph, I see not the end of race, but the riddle of race itself." "The body of Barack Obama contains a bounty of stories, and among them, a story about race, what it means today, and what it has always meant, and not meant.

To deny this, I believe, is to deny ourselves the complicated--sometimes pleasurably complicated--reality that is at the root of the story of race.

Flawed as it may be, the concept of race is not a thing of the past. In fact, and in fiction, it is very much alive. For all of its drawbacks, race is, indeed, the story of where we come from, and how we still live" (14) How do we differentiate between:
1.a time when race doesn’t matter
2.a time when differences don’t matter? 2. 3. 2. 3. 2. 3. Represents not an aspiration of equality, but a desire to run away from the realities of racial difference
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