Race, Identity Politics and Poetry

C. K. Williams: Race relations in the United States today-- It’s a marvelously complicated question. There was an article in the Washington Post today about some of Obama’s workers being disturbed or more than disturbed, horrified, by some of the racial responses they had had when they’d go ask people to vote for Obama. So race in America is certainly better than it’s ever been. I don’t believe that racism of one sort or another is curable. I think it’s always something that’s there for people who need it to use it whether it’s racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, anti-immigration. There are people for whom that will always give them some kind of sustenance and I think part of the problem is that we think we can do away with that and we can’t, and I think also that part of the problem is that we ask ourselves to cure ourselves. I don’t think-- I think that there are still elements of racism in anyone no matter how much they believe they’ve overcome it. It’s still there and to make- to try to kid yourself and think that it’s not is-- makes it harder. I think it’s important to recognize that human beings tend to think in a binomial way. We think yes or no. We think good or bad. We think black or white. And that’s in our minds. That’s the structure of our minds and we have to struggle against it but we can’t pretend that it’s not there and I think sometimes we ask people to get-- to shed that from themselves, to free them from it, and people can’t. It’s there. It’s part of our mental structure and I think it’s very crucial that people recognize that other people have that.

 

The problem of mental structures.

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