In reading Bow’s Racial Abstraction and Species Difference I was caught by two aspects of the discussion in particular. She talks a little about as she terms it “the limits of racial abstraction” and in particular how “the species-race analogy reinforces antiquated notions of (human) type” (337) but I was left with more questions in this section. It seems to me that the issue of equating race with animal species in fraught in many more ways. I was considering what using this short hand does to limit the nuanced understanding of race as a mixture of biological, cultural, and political as well as the lived realities of biracial children. Is there a way to build the bridge from, for example, the story about a mixed polar/panda family to a more nuanced discussion as a child ages or does the use of these metaphors make the jump to other conversations harder? And on the other hand (thinking back to last week’s readings) what does using species as a metaphor for race do to our understanding of animal species and the way they do and do not interact? Does using this metaphor have unintended consequences on how we later relate to animals?
I was also really interested in her connection between race and queerness and as she says how “displacement by proxy can also represent an evasion of politics,” where she cautions about “what it means to circulate racial meaning without racial bodies.” (346) I am convinced by her argument about the present, but I wonder sometimes if we don’t give enough credit to the process of slow change. In the queer liberation space, I think that stories like And Tango Makes Three were important not because they are the ideal story to exist to teach children about queerness but because they were an important stepping stone for the industry to become more comfortable with these stories and open the doors for other, better stories. I think it’s important to contextualize critiques of stepping stones like these and I wonder if there is a parallel in that as well.
In reading the conversation with Kathleen Horning I was caught by the conversation about how there has been a dramatic increase in books ABOUT African Americans but not BY them, and at the same time an increase in books BY Asian American but not ABOUT them. I’m interested in that parallel, and what the pressures both from inside and outside the publishing industry that are causing that to happen.