Monday, September 08, 2008
Derakhshani, Tirdad. "The Peril of Racial Paranoia." PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER August 21, 2008.
Jackson, John L. Racial Paranoia: the Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness. New York: Basic Civitas, 2008. Update: See Jackson, John L. How Not to Read Racial Paranoia. CHRONICLE BRAINSTORM September 8, 2009. Extract: I just read a short review of my book in the magazine Color Lines. The reviewer, Julianne Ong Hing, tries to argue that I mistakenly privilege a psychological reading of racism over a structural one. However, she then goes on to claim that “by keeping it light” (a euphemism, I think, for not writing the book more polemically), I ignore “the deeper psychological impacts of a lifetime of racial micro-aggressions.” She claims that I emphasize “personal interactions as the crux of the racial impasse plaguing U.S. society in the 21st century.” This is the heart of her critique: “The realm of personal relationships may be the most accessible for folks to begin to discuss race, but too often the conversation stops at the personal, as it does in this book. Jackson misses the point by equating the frustrations of people of color with those of whites. There are sharp differences between a group that’s imprisoned at disproportionately high rates and one that is not, between a group whose members own the vast majority of the country’s wealth and the groups with the highest poverty rates. Jackson does a disservice to his readers by limiting his analysis to the “he said-she said” between people of color and whites without delving into the structural roots of racism that permeate our daily interactions and our social, political and economic institutions. Even though Jackson acknowledges larger, structural racisms and recognizes the danger of his argument, he nevertheless persists.” This is a reading of the book’s argument that Hing brought with her to its pages. Of course, that’s part of why race and racism are such thorny issues. We are all already tangled up in some ideologically sticky webs of our own (and others’) spinning when it comes to this topic. We are on the defensive, overly sensitive to the potential of Trojan-horsed attacks — or of the other side’s cold-blooded disinterest. . . . Original Post (September 5, 2008): Jackson, an associate professor of anthropology and communications at the University of Pennsylvania, says African Americans live with the suspicion that they encounter racism constantly in their daily lives - though they can't always prove it. They see subtle signs of contempt in a simple look, a gesture, a remark, a nod of the head by white men and women who otherwise seem very friendly. . . . Jackson insists that racial paranoia is more than a feeling or psychological state: It shapes the way people relate to each other across the racial divide. "People aren't just being hypersensitive," he says. "Paranoia defines the organizing principle . . . of how racism functions in American culture today." Nor is racial paranoia limited to one race, Jackson adds. "White folks also are constantly paranoid," Jackson says. In their case, the paranoia is "about the accusation of being called racist." . . . Read the rest here: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/magazine/20080821_The_peril_of_racial_paranoia.html.