Strange Fruit, Rotting on the Ground

For the past month or so, I’ve been working on a class on medieval Christianity and before that I was dealing with a full load of four courses. It was my intention to do a number of posts on various aspects of the medieval church, but recent events have caused me to change my plans.

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The Return of the Queen

I haven’t been posting as much lately, what with the demands of graduate school and such, but occasionally a story happens that demands a response. No, it’s not about the Donald Trump Show, the ignominious return of the Duggars to television, the death of Mother Angelica, or whatever thing Pope Francis is doing. This story is much more important: Kathleen Battle isĀ  returning to the Metropolitan Opera:

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All My Skinfolk Ain’t My Kinfolk

One of Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson’s schticks is his insistence that if nominated and elected, he would be America’s first “real black president.” As opposed to the “fake black” president we have now. This assertion isn’t new, since Herman Cain was saying the same thing during his own failed presidential run, and this meme is being reiterated by white Republicans who are desperate to run a black candidate to make them seem less white and less racist. Whatever one thinks of Obama’s policies, the notion that he is somehow “less black” than Carson or Cain ignores the way in which blackness was and is constructed in the United States.

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When the Klan was in Vogue

One problem with discussing race with white people (or people in general, actually), is that they take they view that as long as they are personally nice to a small group of black people, they are not being racist, even if they support political policies that disenfranchise black people as a group. To them, racism only exists among a small subset of people that one could call “lifestyle racists”: Klansmen, neo-Nazis, racist heathens, etc. Such a view ignores the fact that “lifestyle racists” are relatively rare in 2015, and most of them don’t live in mainstream society, because these delicate snowflakes can’t fathom the possibility of having to endure even casual contact with those they deem “lesser.” This view also ignores the fact that for a long time, the Klan was considered to be a fairly respectable organization that had the tacit support of the white population.

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Defining Blackness Down

Most of the coverage surrounding the Rachel Dolezal controversy stems from the perceived notion that she was engaged in a 24/7 blackface routine or that she was misappropriating blackness out of some kind of deep-seated sense of confusion or emotional inadequacy. Frankly, none of that interests me. What’s incredible to me is that no one is asking how American racial politics enabled Dolezal to pull off her scheme, because in no other country would she consider her to be black, whether in her youthful Caucasian phase or in her current racially ambiguous disguise.

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