restricted access 107 Resisting Racisms, Eliminating Exclusions: South Africa and the United States
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107 Resisting Racisms, Eliminating Exclusions: South Africa and the United States DAVID THEO GOLDBERG Resistance to racisms consists in vigorously contending and disputing exclusionary values, norms, institutions, and practices, as well as assertively articulating open-ended specifications and means for an incorporative politics. Where racisms are openly and volubly expressed, it is likely a matter of time before a more or less organized resistance by its objects, often in alliance with other antiracists, will arise in response; witness the emergence of resistance to slavery in the United States, to the destruction of indigenous people on all continents, to the [Nazis and their allies in Europe and to] apartheid in South Africa, to David Duke in Louisiana, to Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, to Gottfried Kiissel and the neo-Nazi right in Germany and Austria, or to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the extreme nationalist, in Russia. Resistance in such cases will neither be inevitable nor fully effective. Much depends on the vehemence of the racist expression (the 'Final Solution' is perhaps the limit case), its explicit or covert nature, the resources committed to sustaining the expression and to combatting it, as well as the sorts of technologies available on either side. Where racist exclusions are silent rather than silenced, insinuated without being explicated , institutionally pervasive and publicly taken for granted, any response is apt to be taken as so much paranoia, hypersensitivity, or lack of a sense of humor. Those declaring themselves against racism may be reluctant to change because of resistance to change in general ... or because of the perceived costs to themselves ... or they may not recognize changing forms of racist exclusion as what they take themselves to be against. The less effort it requires of persons to express their disapprobation of racism, the more likely they will do so: signing a petition, attending a rock concert, voting against a racist candidate in an election. Ultimately, resisting racist exclusions in the wide array of their manifestations is. akin to a guerrilla war. It will involve, and often unpopularly, hit-and-run sorts of skirmishes against specific targets, identified practices, and their rhetoric of rationalization; against prejudices and institutional rules; and against pregnant silences and unforeseen outbursts. It is a guerrilla war that is often ceaseless, though there may be the equivalent of cease-fires. In this war, positional strategies and tactics of maneuver need to be as fluid as the content of the racialized discursive formation and exclusionary expressions they oppose. In these batFrom RACIST CULTURE: PHILOSOPHY AND THE POLITICS OF MEANING (Blackwell 1993). Reprinted by permission of Blackwell Publishers. Copyrighted Material 636 David Theo Goldberg tles, resistance may be more or less global or local. One may recognize the broad identities across all racist expressions however and wherever they manifest and the importance of standing against them, or one may immerse oneself in a particular struggle in a local community . Residents of the United States, for example, may protest apartheid in South Africa or they may organize to resist racist police brutality or the use of discriminatory profiles in their local precinct. German antiracists may simply join in a rally protesting the reemergence of neo-Nazism or they may engage in promoting transformation of existing community structures through incorporation of (im)migrants. And South Africans may merely protest (past) apartheid or they may engage in vigorously transforming the microstructures of long-standing racist institutions like universities in that country. Resisting racisms requires also that we be sensitive to the distinction between cruelty and coercion. The harms of racialized coercion are often ignored, overshadowed by racist cruelty . Conservative liberal analysts often presume, on the basis that institutional cruelty of a racist kind has been outlawed, that the repugnant forms of racist expression are no longer. ... But we must also confront racially motivated or effected coercion taking the form of perpetuated impoverishment, social dismissal, maintenance of artificial and contrived differences , or institutional exclusivity, for the coerced by definition have little if any recourse. Generally, both global and local struggles are committed to dissolving racist expression. . . . This will necessitate transforming those sociomaterial conditions, in particular the political and legal economies, that promote, sustain, and extend racist exclusions and expression . It will also require undermining the conceptual conditions and apparatus, the deep grammar, in terms of which the discourse is expressed. And it will entail taking apart the mechanisms by which social subjects come to identify themselves racially and discriminate against those deemed racially other. Responding to discriminatory employment practices on the part...