Racial Pain, Recovery Rhetoric, and the Pedagogy of Healing -- 2nd Edition
Part Two: White Pain and the Dance of Agency
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WHITE PAIN AND THE DANCE OF AGENCY
… It [social justice activism] has failed to soothe the resistant “racial pain” for whites, who feel stereotyped into a collective condition of unique, and perhaps ineradicable, guilt.
– John Hatch (2006b: 258)
Identity is a construct, a fiction, but it is a deeply embedded, remarkably persistent, and necessary fiction. Sometimes people prefer to die rather than to relinquish their identity. Race is another fiction, preserved in this country because the arbitrary division between white and black helps to maintain white privilege. The fictions of race intersect with the constructions of identity to create the sincere fictions of the white self. These sincere fictions, incorporated on the level of object relations and therefore largely unconscious, sustain a white ego ideal and preserve the notion of the black as the “other,” preventing us from recognizing the brutal reality of the racial oppression on which American society has always been based and from recognizing our own internalized racist notions. Until we confront the psychological underpinnings of racism and expose the sincere fictions of the white self, the only changes in American race relations will continue to be superficial.
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