20 September 2008

The ideality of racism

(Apologies if these comments are obvious.)
If there is certainly anything that racism is not, it is the notion that racism is the identification of a subject with the body. Such identification would, if it could ever be universalized, guarantee that racism would no longer exist. A strict materialism of bodies does not reduce bodies to body (or any other variation of prime matter) but instead speaks of bodies only by their singularity. The racist who judges someone “by the color of his/her skin” is the one who precisely cannot see the body of the other, since the body of the other is not the other’s body but always the body of the Other—the exotic other, idealized other, the “not-we” (since “they all look like”); but so too the so-called liberal who condemns the racist who cannot see that “inside—beneath the skin—we’re all just people” (and, similarly, the exoticist, but those reasons have already been well-explored by Said). The liberal's mistake is to confuse the ideality of racism with the ideality of race, i.e., the notion that race is a construction.