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DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Race & Ethnicity » African American (Group) » Jessica Krug & "claimed a... » Reply #4

Response to irisblue (Original post)

Thu Sep 3, 2020, 03:56 PM

4. Well, I'm glad that you posted it here.

The other one seemed largely about whether she looks black or not that, to me, is not the point of the OP. I wish Krug had gotten into, even a little, her reasons for assuming black face instead of "abuse," "trauma," and "non-belonging in a white community." I'm sure lots of white people have experienced all three but never thought of appropriating and benefiting from PoC culture. It sure seems to be a thing though.

So I'm listening to this now to get some answers The Limits Of Empathy at https://www.npr.org/2020/03/06/812864654/the-limits-of-empathy. The interviews includes Alisha Gaines, associate professor in the Department of English, part of Florida State University's College of Arts and Sciences. She wrote Black for a Day: White Fantasies of Race and Empathy.

In 1948, journalist Ray Sprigle traded his whiteness to live as a black man for four weeks. A little over a decade later, John Howard Griffin famously "became" black as well, traveling the American South in search of a certain kind of racial understanding. Contemporary history is littered with the surprisingly complex stories of white people passing as black, and here Alisha Gaines constructs a unique genealogy of "empathetic racial impersonation--white liberals walking in the fantasy of black skin under the alibi of cross-racial empathy. At the end of their experiments in "blackness," Gaines argues, these debatably well-meaning white impersonators arrived at little more than false consciousness.

Complicating the histories of black-to-white passing and blackface minstrelsy, Gaines uses an interdisciplinary approach rooted in literary studies, race theory, and cultural studies to reveal these sometimes maddening, and often absurd, experiments of racial impersonation. By examining this history of modern racial impersonation, Gaines shows that there was, and still is, a faulty cultural logic that places enormous faith in the idea that empathy is all that white Americans need to make a significant difference in how to racially navigate our society.

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