Brethren three-namer Kevin Andre Elliott continues blogging about racism despite knowing that Blog About Racism Day ended when the clock struck midnight December 1st. That conversation ended on Thursday, Kevin. Racism? Solved it last week.
Some people simply don't know how to move on.
But I'll humor Kevin and pretend that "race" still matters for a moment. On December 3rd, Kevin wrote about "Shirley Q. Liquor" (pictured left) a gay white drag queen who sings songs like "The Twelve Days of Kwanzaa" whose patently offensive lyrics "Shirley" performs in blackface. Step back for a second and think about that. A homosexual man who attracts other homosexual men by dressing like a woman pretends to be African-American and then performs overtly racist songs. As I said on Kevin's site, I cannot parse this absurdity outside of an institutional context. If Mr. Knipp—a.k.a. "Shirley Q. Liquor"—were a former student of Judith Butler's I would consider this "performance" a poorly executed "subversion" of something vaguely "political." As it stands, I'm confused. As I originally wrote:
This is the first I'd heard of this, and to be honest, I'm baffled. Half the sites Google turns up claim it's an over-the-top parody of white racism, i.e. a (pardon my Theory) queering of the stereotype of black women by a drag queen. The other half claim Knipp himself is a racist affiliated with a variety of hate groups. So is this quasi-academic pastiche with the wheels come off, a "queering" without the concomitant recuperation of the word and concept "queer," or is Knipp an actual racist? At what point does poorly executed political provocation appropriated by hate groups stop being progressive and start, by dint of association, to be what it purportedly condemns?
In other words, is this another collision between the politically left-of-center and the "politics" of the academic left? I couldn't find any real information about Knipp's life of the mind, but wouldn't a drag queen be more attuned to the nuances implicit in performance? Or has he read Butler and become so enamored with the logic of his protest that he fails to see its actual effect?
I should note that much of what I'm saying arises from that same Old Lefty place that informs my criticism of identitarian politics: "Yes, yes, your theories are liberatory but their implications are beyond dire." I chuckle, then die a little more inside, every time I see the logic of academic relativism bulwarking conservative arguments about, say, Intelligent Design. Ugh.
Also, if I've said anything too offensive, I hereby declare that it was entirely unintentional, the product of too many years trying to be a Leftist in a discipline in which "leftist" thought is a badge which comes with blinkers and a bullhorn.
So what do you, my vastly expanded readership, think about this "racist" performance? I condemn it on all counts, but I'm not sure which count in particular earns my condemnation. Should I condemn him for being a "racist" or a racist? Or has he reached some watershed of the absurd in which every possible action deserves vehement condemnation?