A New Generation Fighting Oppression: Facing Race Conference

Posted in Features by Publisher, Port Of Harlem Snippets on November 27th, 2012

By Wayne A. Young

Pulitzer Prize winner and MacArthur Fellow Junot Díaz opened his unconventional keynote speech for the 30th Facing Race conference in Baltimore by asking the audience for questions. He continued at the conference sponsored by the Applied Research Center by joking around and lacing his talk with profanity when one of the 1,400 participants asked, “Are you single?”

The creative writing professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and fiction editor at Boston Review continued to joke around and then pivoted to his first “serious” question that symbolized the conference’s focus: “What was my process in identifying my own system of oppression?”

Growing up as an economically-challenged Dominican-American male from a family with members of various shades of brown and black, he responded, “Noticing how clearly and naked privilege got distributed across gender and racial lines.” He continued that he began to notice that the darker family members got less praises for their beauty.

The cross-race and cross-cultural alliance that was decisive in the re-reelection of President Obama, “shocked the shit out of every one,” he said as he moved onto America politics. “Who knew if the coalition will hold, “he continued, nevertheless the Obama victory provided those seeking social justice a ray hope.

Yet, despite the progress, he says White supremacy remains. “Skin bleaching to gain racial capital remains the rage,” he explained. White supremacy wouldn’t miss a beat even if we sent all White people to the outer space, he continued. “White supremacy is the racial order in all of us,” he says. All the light skinned people and honorary Whites would simply step up to the plate, he said too much laughter.

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