Naheed Islam (1998), in her seminal study about South Asian women who love other women, finds that her respondents reject the term lesbian. South Asian-American women who sought lesbian organizations and communities, primarily defined by white lesbians, felt they were marginalized and exoticized because of their differences. Islam’s respondents unanimously and consistently describe that women in saris and shalwar kameezes (loose pants with a long fitted shirt) would never be seen as lesbians in America. The women additionally discuss growing up with breasts, hips, and long hair, and otherwise embodying an aesthetic value system utterly different from white androgyny. Most women felt that their bodies were reinterpreted by white lesbians as manifestations of being femme.
Johnny Hobo is about an old way of living, Wingnut Dishwashers Union is about questioning that way of living but not being able to do anything about it, and Ramshackle Glory is a point of departure into a new way of living.
Most theories of white supremacy seek to plumb the depths of its excessiveness, beyond the ordinary; they miss the fact that racism is a mundane affair. The fundamental excess of the paradigm of policing which infuses this culture is wholly banal. Those theories overlook that fact in favor of extant extravagance, spectacle, or the ‘deep psychology’ of rogue elements and become complicit in perpetuating white supremacy. The reality is an invidious ethos of excess that, instead, constitutes the surface of everything in this society.
White supremacy is nothing more than what we perceive of it; there is nothing beyond it to give it legitimacy, nothing beneath it nor outside it to give it justification. The structure of its banality is the surface on which it operates. Whatever mythic content it pretends to claim is a priori empty. Its secret is that it has no depth. There is no dark corner that, once brought to the light of reason, will unravel its system. In each instance of repetition, ‘what is repeated is the emptiness of repetition’, an articulation that ‘does not speak and yet has always been said.’ In other words, its truth lies in the rituals that sustain its circuitous, contentless logic; it is, in fact, nothing but its very practices.
White Americans always think racism is a feeling, and they reject it or they embrace it. To most [white] Americans, it seems more honorable and nicer to reject it, so they do, but they almost invariably fail to understand that how they feel means very little to black Americans, who understand racism as a way of structuring American culture, American politics, and the American economy.
Jane Smiley, Say it Ain’t So, Huck: Second thoughts on Mark Twain’s “Masterpiece” (Harper’s Magazine, 1996)
This is perfect.