This is one of several posts where I share quotes and food-for-thought from Chang’s book – Who We Be: The Colorization of America.*
Jeff Chang (@zentronix, on Facebook, on web), Journalist and Author, hosted a June 2015 event at the Bay Area Book Festival – Who We Be: An Un-Panel About Our Colorized Futures.
As mentioned in my earlier post – Colorize | who you and me be – Chang’s Un-Panel reignited an idea of bicultural improv, which has since evolved to the emerging Colorized Improv.
Who We Be: The Colorization of America, by Chang, is one of the books I am currently reading. Here are a few reviews –
- Eric Thurm, A.V. Club
- Chang interview on NPR’s Bullseye with Jesse Thorn podcast**
- Tricia Rose, New York Times Book Review
- Chris Fan, Hyphen Magazine.
Who We Be is described as –
… Chang explores race and culture, tracing the rice of multiculturalism over the last three decades. He remixes comic strips and contemporary art, campus protests and corporate marketing campaigns, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Trayvon Martin into a powerful, unusual, and timely cultural history of the idea of racial progress.
Presented in five parts –
- INTRODUCTION Seeing America
- Part One: A New Culture, 1963-1979 (Chapters 1-5)
- Part Two: Who Are We?, 1980-1993 (Chapters 6-10)
- Part Three: The Colorization of America, 1993-2013 (Chapters 11-15)
- EPILOGUE Dreaming America
– to date, I have read through Chapter 8.
In the introduction, Chang’s description of this book includes –
It asks: Why, after colorization, has racial and cultural inequality remained largely unseen and undiscussed? It asks us to consider the fate of this still emerging cultural majority, and the fate of the nation itself.
As part of the INTRODUCTION Seeing America, Chang shares the quote above about colorization. Here are a few more quotes in this section that caught my attention –
:: But after the civil rights movement, race became a new kind of American problem. Seeing became increasingly important. … The visuality of race – with its national history of erasure and debasement – became critical simply because people of color would no longer remain invisible. ::
:: Here is where artists and those who work and play in the culture enter. They help people to see what cannot yet be seen, hear the unheard, tell the untold. They make change feel not just possible, but inevitable. Every moment of major social change requires a collective leap of imagination. Change presents itself not only in spontaneous and organized expressions of unrest and risk, but in explosions of mass creativity. ::
:: Cultural desegregation has changed America. We can be seen as a happy rainbow country. Yet all of our social indexes show rising rates of resegregation and inequity … Even as our image world expands at a profound rate, making us believe that every thing worth seeing is available to us, what sits in our blind spots may be more important than ever. ::
:: There is also a growing gap between what we think and what we say. Blindness and denial – personal and systemic – often stop us from speaking at all about race. ::
And finally, in the closing of the introduction, where Chang mentions Rodney King’s 1992 “Can we all get along?” (after the 1992 Los Angeles riots), Chang shares –
We could not answer then and still cannot now. King’s question reminds us how inarticulate we can be when the subject is race. If race beings as a visual problem, how do we overcome our misrecognitions and blindnesses? How do we move toward recognition, honest, empathy, and mutuality?
* This is sparking ideas in me for colorized improv, environmental communications, and knowledge/ignorance discussions.