Monday, January 11, 2016

Class & Race in "Borderline"

I want to publicly thank Kathryn Blanchard for the generous review she has given me for Christian Century.
I do have one quibble with the review, however, and it is this: 
But this book is largely an exploration of white masculinity, the only kind that can pose as masculinity in general. Womanists and other women of color have long critiqued white feminists for erasing race and class from their analyses. White feminists are only beginning to understand, so a relatively new feminist like Goff can be forgiven for falling into a similar trap. To crawl out, he might begin by expanding the recurring question he raises from Luke 7, “Do you see this woman?”—perhaps by also asking, Do you see this trans woman? or Do you see this African-American man? or Do you see this undocumented immigrant?

I agree that the focus in the modern era (after whiteness became a thing) is on white masculinity, though I do make reference to Fanon's masculinity, as well as the representation of black masculinity in Richard Wright's writing. White masculinity is what I know best, and as a kind of hegemonic masculinity, it is - in one respect - The Problem. In the sense that the book is historical for the purpose of tracing the influences on my own white, American, martial masculinity, it is true: that was the masculinity I was unpacking.
But of having "fallen into the trap of erasing race and class from their analyses" I'm not prepared to plead guilty. For starters, there is an entire chapter called Nation, Race, and Hygiene on the masculinized roots of early twentieth century white supremacy; but even more to the point, every representation of the modern era, especially from colonialism forward, and including my own personal experiences, the book is saturated with references to the intersections between race, class, and gender.

In support of my quibble, I have done a quick run through the book to find bits that make reference to class and race (the whole book is about gender). Please forgive the weird formatting glitches that happened when the computer translated pdf to whatever makes this blog go.  You be the judge of whether or not I have fallen into the trap of erasing class and race from my analyses.

EXCERPTS follow:

With this new influx of military women came another dynamic: fraternization, as the military calls it. Men and women in the military were interacting socially, dating, having sex, and getting married. The male-male and female-female liaisons remained as much as possible under the official radar. But among these “heterosexual” pairings, there were significantly higher numbers of interracial relationships than in the civilian sector. The most frequent “new” combination among those in uniform was black male/ white female. Marshall was sure to notice that, too. in fact, it was a constant subject of conversation among white male troops, many of whom expressed outrage at this black male infiltration and white female “betrayal.” resentment was directed at the black men, but with lynching not an option, that same fierce, sullen rage was redirected at the white women, who were referred to as “zebra-women” and “mudsharks.”-P- When Kimberle Crenshaw wrote “demarginalizing the intersection of race and Sex,” she noted that a “singular focus on rape as a manifestation of male power over female sexuality tends to eclipse the use of rape as a weapon of racial terror,” pointing to black women’s virtually “unprotected” status. in the same essay describing the mixture of white and male social power, she shows how white men attempt “to regulate the sexuality of white women.” -P- White-nationalist masculinity is profoundly threatened by a perceived inability to control the “sexuality” of white women, creating what Connell calls “sexual vertigo.” This recombinant mixture of sexual and racial construction that obliges white men to both “control” and “protect white womanhood” is ignited as violence against both women and black men. The bogeyman of the potent black satyr raping the white woman has accompanied virtually every call in the United States for anti-black pogroms. it is hardly coincidental that assertions of black social agency have been met with expanded outbreaks of racial terror, or that rape was projected onto black men by white men; and it is likewise not a coincidence that police rapes increased in Bombay when women began organizing politically. (pp. 27-8)

The works of Homer, for example, give us some insight into how an ideal masculinity was constructed for men of the dominant class in Greece in the eighth century BC." (p. 35)

It refers to the general population’s precritical acceptance of norms established by the dominant class in society, a class that also controls the signifiers and meanings that constitute knowledge and culture. When most people have accepted the point of view of the dominant class—in Gramsci’s case, he was referring to the business class—then they have accepted a version of reality that creates conformity without force. Hegemonic masculinity, then, is a widely accepted version of masculinity that conforms to the beliefs or the needs of a dominant fraction within a society and that is supportive of the structures of that society. (pp. 37-8)
Kingsley was also a proponent of social Darwinist racial theories, which he merged with his biblical interpretation into an amalgam he called “natural theology”: “Physical science is proving more and more the immense importance of race; the importance of hereditary powers, hereditary organs, hereditary habits, in all organised beings, from the lowest plant to the highest animal. She is proving more and more the omnipresent action of the differences between races; how the more favoured race (she cannot avoid using the epithet) exterminates the less favoured, or at least expels it, and forces it, under penalty of death, to adapt itself to new circumstances; and, in a word, that competition between every race and every individual of that race, and reward according to deserts, is (as far as we can see) an universal law of living things. And she says—for the facts of history prove it—that as it is among the races of plants and animals, so it has been unto this day among the races of men” (“The natural Theology of the Future,” paper read at Sion College, 1871).  (p. 40)

All constructions of masculinity forged in war, yesterday and today, require an enemy. To be a real man one must be measured against an enemy, whether that enemy is another tribe, “race,” or nation, a persecutor, or the “opposite” sex. (p. 41)

These towns became parishes, where local merchants began the process of monetary accumulation that would eventually allow them to usurp the power of the feudal lords. The first steps were taken toward urbanization. This nascent business class would also be drawn into the reformation as partisans of Protestantism, which would come to preach, against the church doctrines of the past, that the accumulation of wealth is virtuous and that giving alms to the poor encourages sloth. (p. 51)

Bodin sketched out a post-aristocratic society that would be ruled by his own up-and-coming urban mercantile class. (p. 56)

"Consequently, the educated urban class came to see society as contractual, prefiguring the idea of a social contract that would accompany the emergence of modernity and the nation-state." (p. 60)

Consider for a moment any familiar, white middle-class culture in any place in the United States. Consider at the same time a working-class African American family somewhere nearby. Children in each setting grow up imitating the speech, gestures, emotional cues, and customs of their families of origin. And there are observable distinctions between each. now, consider that the children of these two cultures attend the same school. (p. 80)
Man on Fire begins with that favored escapist film convention in the United States, the salt ‘n’ peppa buddy-team—always reassuring to America in its stubborn denial of our still-racialized reality. Washington is a black actor who has consistently strong crossover appeal with white audiences. (p. 93)

Creasy, disguised as a black man to divert us from the fascistic content of this film, is the strong, violent father: a constant in the emotional cosmos of Mussolini, of Franco, of Hitler. (pp. 98-9)

Churches, dependent on the dominant class for money and subordinate to the new nation-state’s power, came to adjust their teachings accordingly. (p. 125)

Nation-states that had diverse Christian sects within national boundaries recognized the potential of religious disputes to destabilize the body politic, and to deny access to profits for the rising merchant class, so the idea of religious freedom arose in response to the threat of sectarian instability and the depredations of chronic warfare. (p. 147)

There was one major constraint on this ambition, however. The new nation was divided into two, contingently complementary economic systems with distinct dominant class cultures—one based on mercantilism and industrial manufacture in the north, and the other on mass agricultural production using commodified African slaves as labor in the South. (p. 152)
The construction of the Southern male, based on honor, was defined against blacks,who Southern white men defined as lacking the innate capacity for honor.  (p. 156)

In this confusion, a revised Southern masculinity appeared, inflamed by Southern clergy, based on a fear of reversal, the fear of “black rule.” The honorable Southern white man was about to be victimized by Northern aggression (and by extension, by “Negroes”). The North was provocatively portrayed as treating the South as its black slave. This comparison inflamed the Southern masculine imagination. When the war would be lost, this sense of victimization and its attendant fear of black political power would shape the murderous masculinity of the Ku Klux Klan, openly valorized as heroes in the United States well into the twentieth century. (pp. 158-9)

Lincoln’s modern war paladin, Sherman, was being perfected in Memphis. He cared not for the alleged moral purpose of the war—Sherman hated Jews, blacks, Mexicans, and Indians equally. (pp. 163-4)

Privilege, like that which he was enjoying because of his athletic talent and his comfortable middle-class upbringing, should not serve as an excuse to let others shoulder that responsibility. (p. 189)
Another little-known fact, outside of the Special operations community, is that ranger units have per capita the fewest black people of any units in the army, with the exception of Delta (which seldom has any).  (p. 194)

She was nineteen when she was deployed to Iraq as a Private First Class. LaVena Johnson was black with a “funny black name,” and she wasn’t killed in “the fog of war” or an ambush, but by American men, so her case has received little public attention.  (p. 202)

Historically, the terms liberal and liberalism are identified with the political philosophy that accompanied the rise to power of the business class and with republican government, that is, an indirect form of representative government. (p. 206)

We will see as we go along that this difficulty is created by the gender-neutral language of liberalism (which is also class-neutral and race-neutral) concealing the gendered origins of various forms of social power and normalizing existing culture by virtue of our lifelong immersion in it. (p. 210)

So, contract theory is an apologetic for liberal society, a point admitted in so many words by philosophers from Kant to Rawls, who take the superiority of their class, their nationality, and their gender as self-evident. (p. 213)

The state is constituted by a government, the vast organization of people who administer and manage a state, which is overseen by members and representatives of the dominant class. in the United Sates, and most states today, this class is the business class. (p. 223)
On average, women still make only three quarters of what men do in the U.S., and those numbers are dramatically more stratified when race is introduced into the calculations.  (p. 224)

By the time Freud began projecting his own sexual insecurities onto the general population, however, sex and other matters of the body had become a kind of discursive taboo; and this taboo was an aspect of what some referred to as “bourgeois respectability,” a reference to the mores of the now dominant urban business class, for whom the body could create a sense of abjection. (p. 262)

This kind of grasping at respectability, especially among classes of people who are trying to “move up,” for whatever group in whatever time, is not primarily motivated by economic concerns; money is a means to an end, but the goals are status and acceptance. (p. 263)

In successive assimilations of subcultures, nations elaborate class structures. in the modernist project, a growing domestic middle class became an ever more essential part of the European and U.S. nation-states. This middle class did not conjure itself out of cabbage patches but emerged from poorer classes with aspirations to “move up.” These aspirations are part of both a collective and subjective terrain. (p. 264)

Factory work employed men, women, and children, for example, and put working-class men into direct competition with working-class women for jobs—a massive disruption of the respectability preceding vernacular gender orders, where separate meant complementary and cooperative gender roles in household production. More women became visible in this public sector, creating insecurities among men about other men being in unsupervised contact with “our” women and about women’s potential for infidelity. Artisans were being displaced by mass production, destabilizing their identities and forcing them into dependence on more powerful men. The problem of “unemployment” grew as vernacular economies disappeared and money became a necessity for survival. Men felt the loss or the threat of loss of their role as providers. Finally, lower-class men did not have access to the consumer goods that would accompany the development of “rational masculinity,” and likewise lower-class women had difficulty performing “domestic femininity.” (pp. 264-5)

The fear arose that the new, urbane, business-class masculinity would feminize men and weaken the nation, leading to the kinds of probative masculine practices we will describe in chapter 24,, “Progress and the Fear of the Feminine.” Working-class men, asserting their physicality in opposition to genteel masculinity, actually fueled the movement among higher-ranking men to engage in various man-sports to prove their physical vigor and toughness. (p. 265)

Hegel would come to lament that the urban lifestyle of the business class was so genteel that men would lack a transcendent purpose, and that urbane life might become an effeminate “bog” in which nothing transcends individual interests;21 and, of course, that transcendent purpose was the state itself—Hobbes’s Leviathan. (p. 268)

Conquests complete, the triumphant business class on both sides of the Atlantic turned to its more aesthetic pursuits. The parlor and the coffeehouse were the sets for rational masculinity and domestic femininity, but they also reflected an image back to some men that put them in uncomfortable proximity to women. How was a culture that revolved around a piano in the parlor going to police the boundary between civilization and colony? (p. 270)

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a dreary working-class reflection of the coffeehouse and parlor—the shop floor and the consuming household—characterized the new model urban family: an economic point of consumption, the man bringing home some money and the woman using it to get those things to which her labor added enough value to make them fit for use. Man was being redefined as earner, woman as consumer, domestic servant, child care manager, and sex object/breeder. (p. 272)
In 1899, Rudyard Kipling published a poem in McClure’s, a popular magazine of the time, titled “The White Man’s Burden.” The poem was written explicitly as an apology for colonialism; it claimed the “white man’s burden” was to civilize the “darker races.” Plunder was transformed into altruism, albeit an altruism that would have to be carried out with tough love, including war.  (p. 278)

The reference to blood in this case is racial. The jurist and future Secretary of State during Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, Elihu Root, who was a great proponent of building a modern military in the United States, referred in the same way to “the blood,” meaning an inhering American (read: Anglo-Saxon) racial superiority—“the American race,” he said. (p. 279-80)

Roosevelt was an avid supporter of football in universities; he and his contemporaries saw universities as training grounds for the master race. (p. 282)
n 1910, when black boxer Jack Johnson stunningly defeated the undefeated white champion, James Jeffries, Roosevelt wrote to the magazine Outlook that prizefighting should be banned. This boxing victory did not fit the racial narrative of Roosevelt or of most white Americans at the time.  (p. 283)

Football resulted in an alarming number of injuries and deaths, conjuring the wrath of a few public women and fellow male critics of both sports and militarism; but Senator Henry Cabot lodge, an ardent militarist, made his case before the graduating class of Harvard in 1896, saying, “injuries incurred on the playing field are part of the price which the English-speaking race has paid for being world conquerors.” (p. 283)

Race has always been mixed with American gun culture. Union soldiers occupied the South during reconstruction, sometimes arming black men for self-defense; and Southern white men reacted by engaging in guerrilla-like actions against Union troops and outright terrorism against African Americans. radical republican masculinity, African American masculinity, and Southern white masculinity all came to identify themselves with repeating firearms. (p. 285)

This gave rise to the popularity of lawbreaking in the form of “speakeasies,” illegal bars and dance halls where liquor was served. illegal alcohol created a highly lucrative organized crime industry. Gangsters became notorious and admired at the same time in this era in which nihilism and class struggle existed alongside one another. (p. 298)
In the new discourse of male and female, race, nation, and progress, the watchword was “hygiene.” (p. 301)

These hidden assumptions still operate in tandem with gender, race, and class preconceptions dating back to the latter nineteenth century. Chief among those ideas is the idea of women constructed as citizen-incubators, raising “productive citizens” who will “succeed,” because lack of success is a marker of unfitness and a stain on the reputation of parents on the other side of the hygienic borderline. (p. 311)
These hidden assumptions still operate in tandem with gender, race, and class preconceptions dating back to the latter nineteenth century. (p. 311)

The festive atmosphere of the clubs permitted various kinds of gender subversions, playfully enacted away from the rigors and worries of working-class and rural life. “Pansy clubs,” the first gay bars, were patronized by men and women whether they were seeking same-sex liaisons or not. (p. 314)

The white-collar masculinity that was hegemonic among the business class was counterposed to an ever more self-conscious working-class masculinity by the union movement and the growing movement for socialism. Southern white masculinity was challenged by the return of black war veterans. (p. 315)
The rebellion in literature that gave rise to the antihero, and therefore to the character Creasy, has been co-opted and commodified, complete with Denzel Washington as a race decoy. But the successful and familiar formulas remain. The character Creasy is a “man who knows Indians,” this time in latin America (the Western convention). Creasy is a man broken by war, disillusioned (a post-World War i antihero convention), yet sent (by God!) back to “the frontier” to redeem himself through the one thing that still makes him a man—ruthless violence. He saves a little blonde girl from the bad Mexicans (including her bad Mexican father), so he never threatens the audience with an adult white damsel in distress and the possibility of mixed-race sexual tension. (p. 317)
Severson traces the Continental op into and through Hammett’s later Sam Spade character, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, and finally ClintEeastwood’s spaghetti western character, “The Man with no name,” where the implicit critique of the cowboy hero comes full circle and is transformed into its commodified revision in 1964, 1965, and 1966—another period of growing social destabilization around class, race, and gender. (p. 319)

In Sanctuary, a hard-boiled novel Faulkner dubiously claims he wrote simply for money, Faulkner’s violent male characters don’t simply expose the seamy side of middle-class modernity but deploy a terrifying counter-narrative to the nineteenth-century notions of domestic tranquility, including “rational masculinity” and “domestic femininity.” (P. 320)
Faulkner himself said in an interview, “If I recall [Percy Grimm] aright, he was the Fascist Galahad who saved the white race by murdering [Joe] Christmas [a light-skinned, biracial man who passes for
white]. I didn’t realize until after Hitler got into the newspapers that I had created a Nazi before he did.” > . .  Joe Christmas is a mixed-race criminal who falls for a very androgynous woman named Joanna Burden, who lives—no surprise by now—in an old plantation manor house. Christmas and Burden are both, then, ambiguous—racially and sexually—and so pose a threat to the constitution of the community. They have an affair. She is killed. Christmas is suspected of murdering Burden (the novel never resolves this question). Grimm will eventually shoot Christmas to death, and then, yes, castrate him. (pp. 320-1)

In the Gothic creepiness of the old house, the catastrophic cascade of criminality and death that envelopes the characters is, however, set in motion by the most staid and middle-class characters who are, to the public eye, the embodiment of respectability, which is exposed as simulation. (p. 320)

Sinclair Lewis, whose novels Elmer Gantry, Main Street, and Babbitt gutted profiteering preachers, middle-class respectability, and American materialism, confronted fascism head-on in his It Can’t Happen Here. (p. 321)

Lewis’s novel doesn’t simplify fascism as mere hypermasculinism, however. The hothouse in which fascism grows and flourishes is the American middle class—trivial, superficial, uncritical, comfortable, complacent, and conformist: middle-aged white men like the ones we see in civic fraternal organizations are happy to host and applaud the silver-tongued demagogue—Chamber of Commerce types. Their utter disinterest in self-criticism and casual sense of entitlement constitutes the soil for the growth of creeping authoritarianism. The title, It Can’t Happen Here, is a statement of this comfortable complacency. The relation between shallow mercantile men, a demagogic leader, and uniformed men with guns reflected the set of complementary masculinities that constituted fascism, an alliance between an authoritarian government and the business class. (p. 322)

In the story, one federal camp is a refuge for a limited number of workers, serving as a base for union organizing. Unionization efforts are met with violence, mirroring what happened in Germany after the Nazis came to power—the right wing used by the business class as a mailed fist to break the left. (p. 323)
In Steinbeck’s novel, the poor dust Bowl refugees are transformed into a pseudo-race of inferior others, called Oakies. (p. 323)
Just as there are standpoints of women that differ in every circumstance from the standpoints of co-located men, in a racialized society, there are standpoints of the racialized other that invariably differ from the standpoints of the racially normative. Hemingway, Hammett, Faulkner, Lewis, Steinbeck—none could ever assume the standpoint of a black man in America. African American Richard Wright, however, could; and Severson analyzes Wright’s novel Native Son for the racial counternarrative. (p. 323)

Bigger’s toughness is a (white) theater mask, appropriated from the movies, concealing his powerlessness. There is neither access to actual social power nor escape from it. Fanon’s book Black Skin, White Masks explores this subject psychoanalytically with regard to language, sex, dependency, and recognition. (p. 325)

Joel Dinerstein says this urban black male pose signifies a break with shuffling, passive forms of black male accommodation to the dominant culture. The black tough guy—à la Bigger Thomas—is “the rebellious semiotics of hiding in plain sight, of bringing one’s sullen hostility into public discourse,” with something Dinerstein calls “the cool mask.”-P- Bigger’s fear, alternating with his violent aggression, leads him to kill and kill again (women!) . . . then flee (Fear, Flight, Fate) . . . until fate catches up with him when he is sent to death row. instead of the masculine fantasy he sees in gangster films—going down fighting—he is taken in after being captured using a fire hose, the way people break up dog fights. When Bigger is tried, the cultural narrative that accompanies his trial is the “black male rapist” threatening white womanhood. The conduct of the trial, and the social conduct of the society that Bigger is born into, is not the nascent fascism of Faulkner’s tales, or the notional fascism of Lewis’, but a living fascism that is only visible to the invisible—and one that Bigger both fears and admires as a man. it leads to his own violent masculine authoritarianism, which paradoxically is trumped by the same. (p. 326)

In the modern world, especially in my own country, history has made it impossible to have a deep conversation about sex or war without a discussion of race. one of the difficulties of this intersectionality between race, sex, and war is, again, that the prerogative for violence and control has, to a great degree, been transhistorically and transculturally identified with males. Various forms of machismo have thrived within (and even nourished)  “racial” and “ethnic” divisions. in the United States, one needn’t look too closely in a white Protestant church, or a Latino Catholic church, or an African American Protestant church to find a pattern of patriarchs at the helm. Together they constitute Sunday as the most segregated day of the week; and they will differ, sometimes dramatically, on a range of social issues based on their various standpoints within the national socioeconomic structure. By the same token, it is not difficult to find a surprising degree of homogeneity of thought among a substantial number of these mostly male church leaders on two sexual issues. They collectively decry and shame women for perceptions of promiscuity, blaming women’s promiscuity, real and imagined, for a host of social ills. They are hostile to people who are not “heterosexual.” This correspondence of the identification of prerogative with men and the antipathy toward “homosexuals” and women who are perceived as promiscuous is not accidental. These are two aspects of the same transhistorical and transcultural male power. (p. 326-7)

Much of the art promoted other federal public works jobs programs, like the Works Progress Administration, the Civil Works Administration, and the Civilian Conservation Corps—projects whose main purpose was to employ unemployed men and simultaneously promote middle-class masculine virtues such as breadwinning, hygiene, and respect for authority. Men’s bodies in this promotional art were vigorous, virile, and muscular. This image was conceived as an antidote to the imagery of local socialist, trade union, and Soviet propaganda that likewise appealed to muscular masculine archetypes (militant in resisting capitalist bosses). (p. 329)
He called for “resolution to raise up on this continent the strongest, ablest, hardiest, and most intelligent race of men and women that ever inhabited the world.” That his rhetoric mirrors the racial diatribes of Germany, with whom the U.S. would be at war in a mere three months, seems to have embarrassed him not at all. (p. 330)
The merged politics of race and sex had infiltrated “science.” Eugenics and sex were inseparable. (p. 332)
“The question of sex—with the racial questions that rest on it—stands before the coming generations as the chief problem for solution,” wrote Ellis in Sexual Inversion. Siobhan Somerville writes, “in its assumptions about somatic differences . . . Sexual Inversion . . . drew upon and participated in history of the scientific investigation of race.” -P- The study of the somatic landscape for clues to sexual predisposition began with the study of the bodies—living and dead—of African women. Comparative anatomists claimed from the mid-nineteenth century until World War II that black women had differing sexual anatomies from white women—specifically, larger clitorises. This claim was used to support the idea that black women were naturally more lascivious than their white counterparts, who, it was also claimed, had tiny, well-hooded (modest?) clitorises. This symbolism mapped perfectly onto notions of a chaste “white womanhood” and the un-rape-ability of black women; but it was also transferred to the idea of sexual inversion—later called homosexuality—when the claim was made that same-sex attraction in females could be identified by the presence of a prominent clitoris. This claim was made in medical journals well into the twentieth century. -P- This “prominence” was taken as a sign of underdevelopment: lesbians were underdeveloped (an idea that found favor with Freud, albeit without the anatomical element), and Africans were evolutionarily underdeveloped. The same “sexologists” who proposed these notions described same-sex attraction as deviant, yes, but also cross-racial attraction as deviant. Miscegenation was seen as extremely threatening. Theodore Roosevelt had termed it “race suicide” in an era when Jim Crow was being consolidated in the South and the north was seeing waves of immigration from southern Europe and Ireland.18 of particular concern, and of particular significance in the wave of postwar lynching in the South, was the belief that black men had a perverse and overwhelming attraction to white women—an idea that had long haunted the Southern white male imagination and translated into the bogeyman of the satyr-like black rapist.  (pp. 332-3)
In this appearance of “homosexuality” and, later, “heterosexuality”— aside from an association with eugenics and race and its re-inscription of power-inflected social boundaries—“identity” was now becoming associated with the abstraction of the object of one’s sexual desire.  (p. 334)

The function of these categories was not only similar to the categories of race-talk, but race-talk and sex-talk informed one another as epistemes in the struggle to maintain and reinscribe the boundaries of power. (p. 335)

The actual race-gender narratives of the war have now become an abjection that threatens a national masculine myth. (pp. 341-2)
As close as Spielberg can get, without reminding us that black soldiers were in strictly segregated units, he constructs a pluralist microcosm in the detachment. (p. 342)

In 1943, between May and August, there were five racial riots in the United States. In May, while German U-boats were being scattered by the United States in the Atlantic, five black Mobile, Alabama, shipyard workers, involved in war production, were promoted to welding positions. White workers organized a four-thousand-strong mob that was allowed onto the work sites by management, which proceeded to attack black workers with bricks and tools, leading to a mass exodus of black workers following the riot. in early to mid-June, while Allied bombers hit Naples and Sicily, Los Angeles-based white Navy men had become involved in a series of altercations with Mexican-American and African-American youths, who had established a local subculture that included wearing baggy suits called “Zoot suits.” Beginning on June 3rd, the Navy men organized themselves into phalanxes, rode in taxicabs to places where the “Zoot-suiters” were known to hang out, and moved through the streets with clubs, beating hundreds of young men—many as young as thirteen and fourteen—and every person who tried to defend them. The navy men stripped their victims in the street, then urinated on their suits before burning them. This went on for almost two weeks before the navy Shore Patrol stopped it, declaring the navy perpetrators innocent and claiming they had acted in self-defense. In mid-June, as the U.S. was winning a decisive battle at Guadalcanal, a riot broke out in Beaumont, Texas, another war production center. Based on two separate accusations from white women that they had been sexually assaulted by black men, white workers led by members of the Ku Klux Klan organized a mob of, again, around four thousand, which marched into the African American section of town, injuring more than fifty people and killing three, destroying local black businesses, and ransacking more than a hundred black homes. In late June, while the Allies prepared to bomb the Ruhr industrial valley in Germany, in another stronghold of the Ku Klux Klan, Detroit, a fight between a black worker and a white navy man ignited a racial tinderbox, and a three-day street melee erupted between blacks and whites that resulted in more than eighteen hundred arrests, six hundred injuries, and thirty-four dead, twenty-five of them black—and seventeen of those killed by police.10 on August 1st, while the Germans gassed 2,897 Roma and U.S. bombers hit German-controlled refineries in Romania, a new York City policeman struck an African American woman, and a black soldier named Robert Bandy tried to intervene. The policeman shot Bandy, wounding
him. Bystanders who were outraged began spreading the word. The rumor circulated that Bandy was dead. A riot ensued, fueled by years of resentment against white law enforcement in Harlem, and the violence resulted in six dead, more than four hundred injured, and more than five hundred arrests. -P- The industrial war forced the state to mobilize as many resources as possible. Black men were hired into war production with white men, and women entered wage labor in unprecedented numbers. depression-era unemployment and the sudden explosion of war jobs launched waves of migration, shuffling the American demographic deck. The United States found itself denouncing Nazi racism even as it actively pursued a racist ideological attack on the Japanese and maintained a racial caste system inside its own borders. The white masculinity that buttressed the war would be thrown into crisis by early setbacks against the Japanese that challenged “white superiority.” After the war, the eventual discovery of the scope and brutality of Nazi atrocities would expose the exterminist seed lodged within the category “white.” -P- There was an ideological reformation during the war, and the category white had to be expanded to mobilize more support for what was still constructed as a “white man’s war.” By the end of the war, the office of War information (OWI) found itself selling the idea of a racially pluralist and democratic America, and once that fiction was before the public, as the nation would discover in the years after the war, it would be impossible to take back. (pp. 342-44)

Japan had to be re-masculinized in the eyes of Americans to rehabilitate white American political and martial masculinity. The signifiers of manhood and race, as applied to the Japanese, were transformed. From being known and effeminized, the Japanese became inscrutable. (p. 346)

Americans had begun attacking Asians almost immediately after the Pearl Harbor raid, and the articles purported to explain the difference between the two “races” to help Americans tell the good Asians from “the enemy alien Japs.” (p. 348)

As the OWI, the media, and Hollywood staggered back and forth between the meanings of fighting Germans and italians, the shifting signifiers for fighting the “perilous yellow” Japanese, the reality of race riots in cities all over the country, and a system of legal apartheid in the South, the definition of “whiteness” opened a crack to admit a few other ex-others. Americanization programs had been started to assimilate eastern and Southern europeans in the 1920s. one well-known Americanization booster was e. P. Cubberly, who explained, “our task is to break up their groups or settlements, to assimilate and amalgamate these people as part of our American race, to implant in their children the Anglo-Saxon conception of righteousness, law and order, and popular government.”30 Setting aside his lamarckian description of “race,” his faith in the superiority of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant man was typical of his fellow WASPs, even “progressive.” -P- After the contradictions of the war began to surface, especially as men of various ethnicities in the armed forces proved their manhood alongside “white” men, Americanization began to take on a new significance. The scope of the mobilization, military and civilian, forced American society and war propagandists to reorganize representations of the American body politic. diversity began to be celebrated in OWI posters. one even showed John Henry and Paul Bunyan, black and white mythical strong men, shirtless, muscular, standing together astride the world, glaring down as a terrified Hitler and his staff, barely knee high before the two giants, cringing in fear. “Let’s go to work, brother!!” says the poster. -P- The reality in the military, however, remained one where a single “ethnicity,” African American, was systematically segregated from the rest of the armed forces into all-black units, commanded by twice as many officers per capita, and with white officers placed over black. (p. 348)
“White” is constructed. The category came into being in Europe with the beginning of the slave trade. it was reconstructed by law in the Virginia Colony to exclude slaves, indentured servants, and indigenous peoples. it was further refined in its codified definition during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by immigration policy. It was expanded during the same period by virtue of land ownership, wealth, and political power. And it was consolidated in the first half of the twentieth century by urban and suburban segregation. -P- Military service during the Second World War opened the door to normativity, to what “whiteness” had signified, to every group except one: people of African descent. That is not to say that the doors were flung wide and none of the other outgroups suffered from discrimination after the war. They did, and some still do. But the official recognition of their full citizenship came through proof of masculinity for men in military service. What would come to define normative across those lines, in addition to constructions of masculinity, was the countertype represented by African Americans. -P- Even as recently as my own tenure with Special Operations in the military, where I worked alongside Latinos and Pacific Islanders in substantial numbers within mostly “white” units (true of Special Forces, Rangers, SEALs, and the more secretive counterterrorism outfits), negrophobia exerted a cohesive effect between nonblack ethnicities and “whites.” Expressions of dislike or disdain for African Americans were common among these non-black members, and validated the non-black nonwhites as normative, as honorary white men. -P-  Generals during World War II almost unanimously opposed the integration of black soldiers with other units that had otherwise been integrated out of fear that the common belief in white society that black soldiers were intellectually and morally inferior might be true; and they claimed, as opponents of female and gay integration in combat arms do today, that war was too serious a business to take risks for Utopian social experiments. Such experiments threatened both “morale” and “readiness.”-P- The paradox of negrophobia in the World War II military was that while it was based on the lower valuation of black lives by the dominant culture, blacks were, where possible, systematically excluded, even to a large degree among the few black infantry units, from participation in combat. Most black soldiers were concentrated in labor and service specialties.Generals tried as much as possible to keep black combat arms units away from combat. This suggests that what was at stake in terms of hegemonic masculinity was important enough to put more white troops in harm’s way to maintain the exclusion of black troops from combat experience. -P- The draft signed into law in 1940 was closely watched by black male leaders around the United States. As with some advocates for black male legal and social equality since the Civil War, there was a prevailing belief that warfare had a special status among practices associated with manhood, and that black men’s participation in the military would move them closer to acceptance by the dominant culture. Robert Vann, Charles Houston, William Hastie, and the leadership of the NAACP all pushed for an amendment to the 1937 Mobilization Act, upon which Selective Service was based, that would prohibit racial discrimination in the armed forces. -P- Senator Robert Wagner (NY) and representative Hamilton Fish (NY) sponsored the amendment, and it was passed by politicians who were concerned with increasing levels of black activism. Roosevelt had even appointed the nation’s first black general in 1940, Benjamin O. Davis. The amendment was revealed over time as political window dressing by a clause within it giving military leaders summary authority to determine how it would be implemented, with no legal recourse for anyone who was dismissed by those military leaders along the way, nor any recourse with regard to systematic combat exclusion. -P- Standardized tests were developed to sort recruits. The tests were culturally biased, designed with black troops in mind for the purpose of excluding them from certain specialties. Years later, Secretary of War Henry Stimson would write in his diary that “the Army had adopted rigid requirements for literacy mainly to keep down the number of colored troops” (levels of overall black literacy were low in the country). Regardless of the actions taken by the military and political hierarchy to keep black men out of combat, some black soldiers did see combat and performed as well as white units; and toward the end of the war, manpower shortages forced the integration of a few infantry units in northern Europe. These exclusions became a sore point with the African American press, and it would be no exaggeration to say that the agitations that would culminate in the African American mass movements of the late 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s can be traced to this period. it was in 1948, just three years after the Second World War 351 war ended, that racial segregation in the military was banned by executive order. (pp. 349-51)

In the United States, the period between the end of the Second World War (1945) and the year I went to Vietnam (1970) was marked by the Cold War, but also by tremendous domestic social struggles around the issues of culture, economics, race, and gender. (p. 359)

These competing narratives—one of technocratic bliss and domesticated consumer tranquility, and the other of threat from a nuclear-armed World Communist Conspiracy (which would become commingled with “agitators” in the homeland, especially the black freedom movement)— could not be sustained indefinitely; and this contradiction would reach critical mass in the 1960s and 1970s. (p. 366)

Chandler, as narrator and through his protagonist, referred to blacks as “niggers,” described Jews using blatant anti-Semitic stereotypes, attributed to Mexicans an innate criminality, and despised homosexuals. But no prejudice marred his writing with as much force as his hatred of women: “even when he turned in the later 1940s from the class-oriented populism of the new deal to a racialized idea of national consciousness, Chandler’s virulent anti-feminism would remain consistent,” writes McCann. (p. 371)

Chandler’s position as a bridge between the Great depression/new deal and the eisenhower years reflected a shift in urban noir literature. Chandler’s social critique, like Hammett’s, emphasized class division both in its stories and in its populist aesthetic assertions. (p. 372)

One can see the outlines of Macintyre’s archetypical Nozickians and Rawlsians—the working-class stiff who knows what is his (dammit!) and is suspicious of intellectuals, and the liberal petit bourgeois who shows a paternalistic concern for the unfortunate. (p. 373)
A big shift for me, a kid from the ’burbs, was being in the army with a lot of African Americans. About half of my drill instructors were black, too. My attitude on race at that time was white-privilege neutral. like many white people, I equated racism with active, personal hatred based on color. If I didn’t hate anyone for being black, then I was not a racist. Simple as that. (pp. 377-8)

 in the extremity of our circumstance, in my platoon, the lines between black and white were erased and replaced by the line between GIs and “gooks.” It was a brotherhood of youth, engaged voluntarily or not in a race war. (pp. 383-4)