Monday, August 3, 2009

A Very Touching Story

And my reply, posted on the ESPN site:

Enjoyed this immensely. Cried. Thanks for sharing. Let's not let the narrative suture us into the safe sense that "It is enough to have good friends and a resilient spirit" individually and that massive social transformation does not need to take place. These kids were already positioned by an unethical violence that is so essential, it preceded Dartanyon's birth and Leroy's accident. That most people will forgo a structural explanation for the violence that positioned them in hypersegregated Cleveland ghettoes, schools with 40% graduation rates, near industrial train tracks, and in places where preventable birth disorders (unlike Leber's) go unchecked in the first place will cause them to romanticize what these kids have had to overcome instead of changing this society fundamentally so that more kids don't have to overcome an unethical state of nonbeing. "An edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring," said MLK, and the same is true of a social edifice that placed these kids in zones of death where, by intelligence and toughness-- but also a lot of LUCK-- they survived where others (of perhaps the same intelligence, toughness, and resilience) did not. Neither stories like this, nor the election of a black president, nor yet another Skip Gates miniseries will absolve America of its reliance on the death of black and blackened bodies in zones like that where millions of other Dartanyons and Leroys "live."

The affective connections to black suffering are deadly. With all the overcoming that blacks must do, you would think that a little Hegelian-type recognition would be in the offing. But previous experience suggests, and the best readings of western culture also suggest, that black suffering is actually a source of affective enjoyment among whites, other nonblacks, and (as my own tears suggest) blacks ourselves! Krin Gabbard illustrates this point to some degree in his book Black Magic, in the chapter on all of the "magical Negro" stories that occurred around the turn of the millennium.

No comments:

Post a Comment