"Race does not exist [biologically]"...
And in a (small 'l') liberal worldview, that is why we do not talk about
Racism. Instead, we talk about culture, of language, of religion, of
ancestry, of geography, of migrant status. We skirt around issues of
Race and Racism, conflating the empty signifier of Race (i.e. its biologically indeterminable nature) with total non-existence.
I'd like to try...:
"Race does not exist [biologically], and yet..."
...Yet... it is ontologically real by virtue of its being a socially
meaningful way in which we categorise one another. A lived reality for
all of us. Race is a strange residue of the unfolding of human culture
and history, the vestiges of power and a lack thereof imprinting
themselves upon our bodies. Any recourse to "predictability" (as regard
to a person's physical characteristics, assumed or otherwise, and their psycho-spiritual
character) posits the meaningfulness of a person's body (and therefore their presumed ancestry) as an indicator of personality or
behaviour. Even "unpredictability" is a falsehood, even if it is
universally applied to both dominant and marginalised racial groups.
Unpredictability itself assumes a blank-slatedness to human character, a
non-relation between Bodies and Culture which is as much contingent on falsehood as
racialised predictability is.
Presented with the empty vessels that are "Race" and racial categories, I
choose to notice how they have been filled by language, by misnomers,
by violent avoidance. I acknowledge that I see Race, though
not clearly; Racial categories are ever-shifting... They come in and
out of being... As non-existent yet hypnotising as waves crashing upon a
Even in avoiding them, we give rise
to new racialised terms... For example, "Ghetto" or "CALD" (culturally
and linguistically diverse), which purport to primarily reference class
and culture, but are, indeed, deeply steeped in racialised assumptions
of normalcy (i.e. Middle-Class White Citizenship).
does not exist. Yet Racism is real, the lived experience of Race is
real, and it is Racialisation which undergirds our avoidance. Some of us
surf upon the proverbial waves of this ephemerality (of Race).
Others of us drown.