Obsession white people in the united states have had

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obsession white people in the United States have had with black culture, or their misunderstanding and projection of what that culture might be. Whites, from blackface minstrels to the 1930s radio program “Amos n Andy” to Elvis Presley to Eminem or even (or, if you could remember him, Vanilla Ice is probably a better example), have appropriated or “stolen” African American identities and cultural forms, with varying degrees of relation to those cultures. (“Digital blackface” is another even more contemporary example.) This mix of “love and theft” is exemplified in minstrelsy, which shows the white desire to become, through performance, “black,” but only, at the same time, by violently erasing actual black subjects. The “balloon face” represents this “love and theft,” but, most forcefully, it represents the system of racist power that transforms all individual African American people into this hateful caricature and stereotype of the smiling and subservient face, obedient to the whims of white supremacy. [SLIDE] The lynching scene is also connected to Sutpen’s first and sudden experience of whiteness and class—what Shreve calls “white trash”—when he is told by the house slave to go around to the back door. This is the novel’s first recognition of whiteness made visible, precisely what DuBois said was not happening. Whiteness was invisible, it was hegemonic, it did not need to be mentioned. It was merely assumed that the unmarked, the unmentioned, was white. But here Faulkner shows Sutpen coming to
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7 recognize himself as white and poor through the eyes of the house slave, and, thus, through the eyes of the social system that enslaves that man—holding white supremacy in power—and bars entry to Sutpen: thus, reinforcing class power. V. SLIDE BALLOON FACE, POWER OF SYSTEM Here we see again how the balloon face is not the face of any particular person, but rather the face of power, of white supremacy and economic exploitation. Thus, when the slave at the door looks at Sutpen, Sutpen recognizes that it is the “rich man” looking at him, and seeing him as “cattle,” a dehumanizing gaze that matches the “chattel slavery,” the equation of slaves with animals, which that man’s plantation power puts in place. The balloon face also reveals the symmetry between Sutpen’s experience and that of Charles Etienne. Sutpen experiences his own double consciousness, made explicit in the kind of schizophrenic conversation he has with himself, wherein he is split into two voices. Those voices—one “innocent” in its desire for a simple violence, an innocence I will explain below; the other sophisticated enough to understand how the power structure operates—divide Sutpen, but mark his self-invention. When he learns what it means for the plantation owner to look out through the face of others, we see that logic that Sutpen will employ to put his face onto others, such that his perspective becomes equivalent to the system of economic and violent cultural white supremacy. Whereas we discusse this
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  • Spring '14
  • BHAUMIK,SM
  • The Bear, White people, Charles Etienne

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