Are We Over Race?I am dismayed to learn, via Caleb, of Annie Proulx's reaction to Brokeback Mountain's loss to Crash as Best Picture of the Year at the Academy Awards (she wrote the story from which the former was made.) She seems to think that racism is a rather quaint subject (presumably in comparison to homosexuality among white cowboys.)
Caleb is right: confining social problems (or the discussion thereof) to the past is a dangerous game in which certain causes are elevated above others, or entirely dismissed.
And yet race (and ethnicity) has returned in such a big way. The sudden death of Milosevic has delayed reckoning with genocide and the global community's role in preventing it. At least seventy thousand people (probably many more) have died in Darfur. The ethnic troubles in France have shown that societies discrimination can persist in societies that claim racial toleration.
The current issue of Nouvelles Questions Feministes shows the extent to which race has reasserted itself: the issue is dedicated to discussing the compatibility of anti-racism and anti-sexism. Christine Delphy discusses how feminist critiques were hijacked by policy makers to create discriminatory policies (related to the headscarf matter.)
I'll admit that I have no interest in seeing Brokeback Mountain: the problems of Marlboro Men don't intrigue me, and I think that there are already great films that deal with, even normalize, homosexuality (where the Oscar for Hedwig and the Angry Inch?.) Perhaps people should ask whether homosexuality made Academy voters uncomfortable. Dismissing racism, however, creates its own problems, especially when race and sexuality ought to be analyzed in terms of one another rather than in isolation.