Marking difference begets miscommunication, which breeds misunderstanding and could lead to feelings of contempt, hatred and hurt.
Yesterday’s class on colour, difference, browning and Jamaica was great and very, very interesting, not least of all because of a small breakout session as we discussed with our peers the question ; ‘How is mixing problematic in Jamaica..?’ (Or something along those lines. Realised the slides are not online! Must dash to email tutor).
There was the brief introduction to Marcus Garvey, his notion of acceptance for all people, but then the call for no miscegenation.
But here’s my thought, like the moment you see colour or people as difference you eradicate desire and fragment a persons being and identity. Sure there is difference. Sure there is a long and troubling history with race. Also with empire. Definitely with the policing of bodies and of our desires. But you cannot, now, move one way or the other.
I’m not saying let’s not be proud of our culture or heritage. Or that those that want to actively create a stronger heritage or ‘keep it real’ by accessing and responding to the essentialism of Garvey are wrong.
I instead want the space for my desire, wherever you may think it has “come from”, to not be rendered problematic. When I see my love, or see the people I deem desirable, it is the person, the intellect, the knowledge and the entire person I find intriguing and comforting.
I’ve had too long a history of marking difference. As been seen as ‘Gorey’ as a child, as been seen as vain, vacuous, proud, the characteristics projected onto the race that kept the brown man down in working-class UK. When all I did was be happy and remain optimistic, make friends with whoever was nice and interesting, be they Shiahs (shock-horror), regular one of us people, white kids, fat kids, slow kids or whoever.. Seriously growing up in situations and navigating people’s misunderstanding and contempt for one another on skin-deep characteristics is a difficult way to live. I for one, don’t want the same for the next generation, or for my children..
Love and desire, just bring us out of thinking about ourselves as belong to camps.. Whether they’re constructed around whichever ideology, race, creed or gender.
There’s a lot we can take from Garvey and other post-colonial thinkers, who bred the ground for our heritage and ancestral lands to salvage pieces of themselves. To create networks amongst themselves. Who gained strength after being raped, violated and contemptuously left to fend for themselves in a skewed world. One where the empiric rapist still held the cards, and the valuables, and the keys to representation.. But I cannot now advocate that strength is built on essentialising any of the racial categories. I know it will be a difficult road to navigate and there are inherent representation of race they highlights problems we need to address. But the heritage that we have, we consume, we produce, leads to a path that will take us to interact with many peoples. We just have to start at a place where we see it as that, fellow people not the breakdown of their parts, that we summarise without starting a dialogue.