One idea that Davis discussed in Recognizing Racism in the Era of Neoliberalism that I found interesting was the concept of old definitions of racism limiting modern ones. Davis uses the example of the civil rights movement, describing how the ideals of this period resulted in inflexible definitions of what it meant to overcome racism, and therefore, racism itself. Her description of this phenomenon was an “a-ha!” moment for me; I feel as though I have been aware of this idea, but I’ve just never been able to put it into words. Furthermore, I believe this practice of turning a blind eye to malicious acts against minorities simply because the harassment is different than it was seventy years ago affects other minority groups as well. As a queer person, I am well aquainted with the argument that queer people should no longer engage in activism since we have already been granted marriage equality. However, activism and protest in this case was never meant to achieve one single goal, dispersing upon its achievement. I feel the same can be said for racial minorities.
Questions I would ask to a panel of Davis, Morrison, and Brooks:
- What is the role of the individual in perpetuating racism?
- Whose responsibility is it to combat prejudice?
- How likely is a future without racial prejudice?