Hypervisible Invisibility and Race

H/T TF

Post by Olivia Cole at HuffPo.

“Khadijah Costley White shared stories from her childhood in a piece for the Washington Post, in which she described the distress and pain of growing up black and female in school. She describes the punishment she received for her frustration, and it mirrors what I witnessed in my own schooling: black girls facing bias and neglect, who are then punished for their human response. What was interpreted as a cry for help from me was interpreted as “bad black girls” from my peers. It is in this way that black children are both hypervisible and invisible: in one way, the black girls at my school’s behavior was hypervisible; subject to heavy policing and punishment, gossiped about by the faculty. But in another way, these girls were entirely invisible: the causes for their behavior going unexplored and unconsidered, their cries for help unheard.”

“A white kid at the pool party — the one who recorded the incident in McKinney, in fact — said the following: “Everyone who was getting put on the ground was black, Mexican, Arabic. [The cop] didn’t even look at me. It was kind of like I was invisible.”

“This is what it means to be white in America. To be visible for the good and invisible for the bad. We are on every TV screen, every magazine cover for our achievements, but when we riot after a basketball game or a Pumpkin Festival, we’re slid quietly to the bottom of the deck, or gently sat by the side of the road and without cuffs after engaging in a shootout with police.”

There is a poem by Ai that I quote often, in which she writes:

“what can I say, except I’ve heard

the poor have no children, just small people.”

2 thoughts on “Hypervisible Invisibility and Race

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