Monday, 05 December 2005

I'm Done With Sex, Now It's Time to Blog About Racism 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...
In Memoriam You were the best dog. Someone had abused you mercilessly then left you to die. The shelter found you wandering around I-10 in 1992. They named you something dumb like "Interstate" or "Highway." We adopted you and rechristened you Pokey. At first we thought you were a racist because you attacked the black architect who was working on our house. Later we learned that you hated men with mustaches regardless of race. We figured some mustachioed man had beaten and abandoned you. You wore a long leash your entire life because your favorite game was "Almost Got Me." The door would open and you would bolt. We would run after you. You would stop to make sure we were chasing you and then when we were three feet away you would dart another half mile. You would always wait for us to catch up before you would bolt again. You didn't want to leave us. You only wanted to be chased. Once you ran into a stable and scared some horses and that was awesome. Eventually we decided to put a long leash around your neck so you could not dash so far so fast. We knew you loved the game but we did not want you to die playing it. You hated cats but you loved Tigger. There you are barking at a cat outside with Tigger riding shotgun. You did not know Tigger was a cat. We would think you were asleep and then all of the sudden we would be hit by the slobbery Tigger you had flung at us. We knew you wanted us to take him from you so you could growl and wrestle with him. We knew you loved Tigger so we decided not to tell you he was a cat. You were an awesome dog. When you developed canine epilepsy we discovered you loved cheese. You would only take your phenobarbital if we wrapped it in cheese and so we did. Then the seizures stopped and we were happy. Mom wanted to keep you alive so I could say goodbye this Christmas but you could not stop throwing up the cheese with your phenobarbital in it and started having seizures again. I know how selfish it sounds but I wanted to say goodbye and I wish you could have held out a little longer. I know you wanted to see me again and were sorry you could not. I know I wanted to see you again and am devestated I cannot. Mom and Dad were with you at the end so I know you felt safe and comfortable when you left us. I wish I had had a chance to say goodbye but I am glad you do not suffer anymore. You were the best dog ever.

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