Unlearning Racism Adventure #1

Notes about the African presence in Mexico and comedy at La Pena.*

Last night I tried to end my personal racism in about an hour.  Comedian W. Kamau Bell notes that if 70% or more of the people in a place are white, it’s possible that place is racist. That place is my life.

In Oakland, California, only about 35% of the people are white.  So why couldn’t I think of anyone to bring with me to La Pena get the 2 for 1 discount for coming with someone of a different race? Pitting my frugalness against my racism was very clever, Kamau. It hurt. (I didn’t come up with anyone of the same race except my family to invite either, now that I think about it, but I’m ok with that.)

I was taught racism as a binary black and white–which means that I don’t usually think about racism and Asians or Native Americans or Hispanics. That’s got to be another variety of racism right there. That way of thinking leaves out about a third of the people in Oakland. I’ve certainly got a lot of work to do to unlearn racism!

A few things I learned or was reminded of from Kamau’s act:

  1. Racism is real. Race isn’t real–it’s just a thing we’ve made up.
  2. In South Africa, Chinese are Black.
  3. Not having to think about race all the time is a white privilege.
  4. White people need to apologize for Glen Beck. ( The solution to Rush Limbaugh might just be more and purer drugs.)
  5. Black people invented American popular culture.
  6. Country music = The blues – slavery.
  7. Sacred Harp and Square Dancing must not be popular.

W. Kamau Bell has videos.

The Oakland Museum has a good exhibit about The African Presence in Mexico: From Yanga to the Present. Did you know that Columbus brought African slaves with him? Or that there were more African slaves in Mexico than in the U.S.? There was an elaborate system of classifying people based on how much Indian, Spanish, or African ancestry they had.

People born in Mexico of Spanish ancestry were called Criollos. The Mexican War of Independence in 1810 threw off Spanish rule, but left the Criollos ruling. Slavery was abolished as part of that (1829?). Mexican Independence Day is celebrated September 16.

The Mexican revolution starting in 1910 overthrew the Criollos and established “La Raza.”  Cinco de Mayo is something different.

La Pena will be hosting “Diáspora Negra – The African Legacy in Latin America” August 14 & 15.

After viewing “The African Presence in Mexico” I saw Squeak Carnwath: Painting Is No Ordinary Object. In the light of the “African Presence” exhibit, I saw this exhibit as exemplifying white, upper class privilege. Here’s a woman who spent money on art supplies instead of therapy. The canvases are huge, so she had a LOT of money to spend. Just for kicks, I looked up women artists and African-American women artists.

It’s International Blog Against Racism Week.

Go check out the links at that link. More details at The Feminist Texican
*Can you tell me how to put a tilde on that n?

Update 14 Sept 2009: The Oakland Museum has pictures of the African Presence in Mexico up at Flickr.

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4 Responses to “Unlearning Racism Adventure #1”

  1. Shaker Caitiecat Says:

    Quercki – to get the ñ, if you’re on Windows, open the Language and Regional Options panel, and look for the method to add new Input methods. You can set it up to let you have the Spanish keyboard, where it’s under your colon/semicolon key.

    Or you can borrow mine, or there’s an Alt-Code version somewhere (if you want that method, Google “Alt-key” and Spanish, you should get a link or two to it).

    Good first post! Looking forward to more. 🙂

  2. The Race-ometer « Coast Live Oak Says:

    […] Coast Live Oak Just another WordPress.com weblog « Unlearning Racism Adventure #1 […]

  3. Erin Ptah Says:

    To get Ñ and ñ, type “Ñ” and “ñ”. Won’t help if you’re typing in MSWord, but it’ll make them show up on a website.

  4. Pamela Mays McDonald Says:

    I really think you would enjoy watching this video of a Tim Wise speech at Mt. Holyoke College in 2007: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3812249801848706206&ei=VIfDSvvHF4zYqAPLuvSKBg&q=Tim+Wise&hl=en&client=firefox-a#

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