Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The (In)Visibility of Race

Three months. Around three months i have been abandoning this blog. Of course, there should be millions things to say during that time. Yet, life has been pretty hectic as i was preparing for my last semester. I've done most part of it. How do i feel? Relief of course but I didn't relish every moment of it. The pressure was far too big to handle. Fear of failure was haunting me and made it even harder to complete a simple thing. I used to be able to write an essay in a week without any problem or finished 4 different essays in a month. But last year, there was a moment where i could not write anything. I didn't even go through beyond my readings. They felt like unpenetrable. Finally, I've done it. It took me nearly 9 years to finish my undergraduate degree but now i am officially graduated. But i am not yet finish in dealing with uni. I am taking up a challenge to do honours this year. I believe this could be the final.

Speaking of uni, there is one thing that always bewilders me. Often i saw students with 'coloured skin' playing around with computers in the study room. They were checking their facebook profile, chatting in YM or MSN or browsing anything that is entirely not for the study purposes. I asked myself, is it always like this? Do they know that these computers are provided for academic purposes? Soon i was aware that there is a racial undertone in my thought. No doubt, students with dominant colour, which is white, were also pissfarting around with computers. But why did i pick up the coloured ones?

After pondering this issue, i came to the conclusion that the more dominant a certain race is, the more invisible it becomes. As opposed to the invisibility of white skin, the coloured skin becomes so visible. Whatever these coloured skin people do, it is always noticeable. Every time i see them doing something 'unusual', i began to be annoyed. Of course, i also complain if there are people with white skin doing something similar to the coloured ones. But what fascinates me more is the fact that i am not white but i am picking up more coloured skin. This is perhaps because i perceive the whole whiteness including culture and colour as something unquestionably dominant. So i am passing as white: acting and thinking like them as a way of accepting the 'truth' of white power, more importantly, in order to be seen invisible.

But taking this further, this is not all about who is right and who is wrong. Coloured skin people is also contributing to the invisibility of white. For instance, coloured skin people are proud of having such exotic cultures and to large extent believe that white has no culture. However their ideas of uniqueness and exoticness of their cultures are built upon the perception that white has no culture. By accepting this, the invisibility of white becomes more pronounced as much as the visibility of skin colour.

Of course, it is absolutely bollocks if we say that white has no culture. White has cultures as much as others races do. But in the past, there was an exoticisation of other races and cultures through colonisation which made non-whiteness exotic and different. Wacko scientists such as anthropologists travelled across the continent from the metropole and went back home, bringing stories of these exotic people. When in the end, people moved from the colonies to the metropole, to large extent, people are seeing other cultures with the exotic paradigm deriving from colonial construct. Meanwhile, these 'exotic people' soon start to enjoy being the object of gaze but at the same time begin to act like white and learn the advantage of being invisible.