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America's Atonement

Racial Pain, Recovery Rhetoric, and the Pedagogy of Healing -- 2nd Edition

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Aaron David Gresson III

The second edition of America’s Atonement: Racial Pain, Recovery Rhetoric, and the Pedagogy of Healing argues that racial pain is a driving force in contemporary race relations and is especially prevalent in social discourses on identity, fairness, and social justice. Despite its importance, racial pain is too often glossed over as mundane or disingenuous. For this reason, social justice activism and education are in danger of undermining the needs and opportunities to more effectively convey what has been called «difficult knowledge». This book highlights emergent examples of psychic and relational healing.
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Part One. Racial Pain and its Discontents

Extract

← xxiv | 1 → Part One

RACIAL PAIN AND ITS DISCONTENTS

… men are not gentle creatures, who want to be loved, who at the most can defend themselves if they are attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. As a result, their neighbor is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him. … Anyone who calls to mind the atrocities committed during the racial migrations or the invasions of the Huns, or by the people known as Mongols under Jenghiz Khan and Tamerlane, or at the capture of Jerusalem by the pious Crusaders, or even, indeed, the horrors of the recent World War—anyone who calls these things to mind will have to bow humbly before the truth of this view.

– Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents (1930/1961: 58)

… the pain-free, white American body exists easily in the cultural imagination and cultural productions of social agents within the United States. Even the most horrific wounding experiences are allowed invisibility, as if this mythological white body is cloaked within a magic circle. As an historical and everyday (or commonplace) sign ← 1 | 2 → of suffering, the pounded black...

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