White Where There Is Nothing to See
Challenging Aesthetics of Whiteness and Mina Loy’s “Songs to Joannes”
Today we admire the gender politics of her writing
without discussing the politics of our ownreadings
Loy de- and re-constructed language for the purpose of social change ((accordion here))
dismantling gender inequality was her task;
today, we read with a different set of values and aims
We are more conscious than ever of the way that white supremacy has infiltrated and shaped public discourse.
Today, we must work harder than ever to take down systems of oppression
knowing that this oppression functions down to the level of the word
to challenge these systems of oppresion we must:
-look at what our writers are saying about race and what they are not
-treat metaphor as an opaque construct —
to look not just through to concepts or objects being compared but at the act of comparison itself
-acknowledge the difference between a writer’s historical perspective and our own,
while maintaining that the way we read constantly renews itself and the culture that drives this way of reading
(which is to say that:
Reading is inherently political
the way we read matters,
and regardless of when a text was written,
our readings constantly create new meaning
By letting whiteness in literature pass by without interrogation, we are complicit in a culture that accepts whiteness as a default.
We must challenge our associations with the literary motif of whiteness just as we must challenge our false notions of a white “race.”
In doing so, the circumstances of a text’s reading and not its writing are foregrounded.
This is more than an obscure academic pursuit.
It is our RESPONSIBILITY as academics and as citizens