Scary stories from a lovely place
I’m still thinking, pondering, mulling, talking and feeling confused about my questions around helping the poor, as I wrote about a few days ago. Hopefully I will soon post my thoughts, but as always, they will be rambling, unresolved and difficult.
In the meantime I just wanted to recommend that you go and read this article written by my dad about the values we attribute to race and colour. The Sydney Anglicans web-page can’t be described as the most engaging platform of Christian thought, but I think dad’s article stands out from the rest of the cerebral masses. He’s bummed that not many people have commented, so while you’re there, maybe you could comment.
By way of my own opinion, I agree with what the old man says. But I think there is one area where white people do care about black babies, but it is not necessarily good. During my English literature degree I studied post-colonial theory. Within po-co (as all the cool kids call it) there’s a discourse called the post-colonial gaze which suggests that the coloniser (read: white people) have a way of representing and misrepresenting the colonised (read: everyone else) which further subjugates them.
One modern example I think that still exists of the post-colonial gaze is the way cute, black children are used in the marketing of charities like World Vision. Nothing pulls at the heart strings of a white person than a cute, smiling African kid. Another way I see this happening is in the banal space of facebook. It’s amazing how many people will go on a trip to Africa/Asia/South America and then make their profile picture a happy snap of them cuddling a poor looking local kid. I should be careful with this because I am a coloniser (white person) living in a colonised country but I try really really hard not to slip into that the post-colonial gaze phenomenon.
The post-colonial gaze is also worked out in the female coloniser’s (female whitey) fascination with attractive black men. When I was in highschool my friends and I often joked about how we wanted to marry a black guy because he would be inherently hotter than a white guy, and such a relationship would have the added bonus of cute, mixed race kids. Once I heard such kids described as ‘cappucino babies’ which I found pretty objectionable. This is also patronising and unhelpful for racial stereotypes and divisions.
Anyway, I’ve wandered from the crux of dad’s article and I’ve waffled away from his concise argument. I will read and think more on this post-colonial gaze thing and come back with something more coherent, along with the ethics of helping the poor thing.