Race and The Golden Rule

As the new issue of Nueva Luz arrives at the newsstands, we’re excited to hear and see the comments. It was guest edited by Darius Himes, and features photographs by Hank Willis Thomas (his Aperture book is out!), Nontsikelelo Veleko, Ian Ramirez and Sanaz Mazinani.

Nueva Luz cover, by Hank Willis Thomas

Darius’s article, Here Am I: Reflections of Race and the Golden Rule, has already spurred responses – which is exactly what we’ve hoped for. He gives us an open and honest discussion about race at an incredible time in our history (in the past few days we have become a country wrapped in a sense of hope, rather than fear – with Obama as president).

He discusses it a bit further in his BLOG, and we also thought you’d like to see one of our reader’s responses:

“Black America and White America (who are genetically tied) have a big need for this conversation. Everything about “post-race” that I hear always comes back to take roots in the painful history of colonialization, and slavery (or so it seems). And so getting beyond race seems so needed. But for me, race is not about that *but then again, I’m not black and i’m not white… I’m even a new American.

What race means to me is not the very bitter and decisive separations of difference, but rather the celebrations of them. Yes, we are all human, we are interrelated, sure. That is 98% of the puzzle.  But the 2% of difference is that we possess cultural, physical and even biological distinctions. And something about the human experience is very tied into what is distinctive, how the experience is different.  Especially in art.

How many Arabs or Palestinians do you see exhibiting their work internationally? How many names do you know besides Mona Hatoum, Emily Jacir and Sherin Neshat (and she’s not even Arab). Only a few have really been allowed in the gates, most of us are hovering around the gates, hoping to get picked. And just as soon as we began to articulate these experiences, just as soon as we are given a platform,  someone says we need to get beyond this. And for me, the writer himself didn’t get beyond it.

The fact is, a black man can’t make an image about eating at Wendy’s with his likeness in the image without the viewer inherently reading the racial overtones in it. No one would describe the image without stating the man’s blackness. Somehow, his blackness would be central to how ever that image would be read.

Ask me how many times in my life someone described someone a person (a friend, lover, teacher, etc) and used the word white? Maybe only by a few black friends. But mostly I’ll get the height, eye color, sex and so forth. White is not one of the descriptions, and perhaps it is easier for whites to think they can get beyond race because of that. Hmmm?

For my husband [who is African American], he likes the article because he believes black people need to get beyond race, because race was used to harm them, and they benefit the least from being tied to a race. Race implies limitations to him. I believe race is the 2% of difference that is everything. And difference is good, healthy even. My two cents on the 2%.”

To debate or discuss the full picture (pun intended), be sure to get your very own issue of Nueva Luz (…you know you want to!)

Join the discussion, we look forward to hearing from you!

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