happiness in slavery

Sensational Flesh: Race, Masochism, and Power was a lot of fun to read. It’s a survey of what’s been said about masochism over the years by psychoanalysts, philosophers, and activists: Masochism is a powerful diagnotic tool. Usually understood as the desire to abdicate control in exchange for sensation–pleasure, pain, or a combination thereof–it is a…

coping with hybrid degeneracy

I was reading a bunch of painful black history stuff I’d avoided all my life, and it was both cool and horrifying to discover the history of mixed-race people in particular. I’ve started referring to myself as “mulatto” because it makes people uncomfortable. Mixed-race people tended to be house Negroes, and light-skinned blacks tended to…

the plight of the educated negro

Black Bourgeoisie is a quick, highly uncomfortable read from the 1950s.  It’s about black people who have a lot of money for black people, how they’ve come to adopt white, middle-class American values, internalized racism, and tried to distance themselves from poor black people.  It’s scathing and its publication apparently caused a lot of butthurt. …

passive aggression is respectful

Viola Cordova’s cultural background was half Hispanic, half Apache. What I think is interesting about this passage is that the behavior she’s describing would normally be described as passive-aggressive, lacking in assertiveness. The behavior DOES make sense in the context of a culture that values interpersonal harmony, where mutual empathy and caretaking can be expected.…

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