To me the most insidious dynamic of racism is the collective collusion of society to use whiteness as a way to establish value, without acknowledging its existence.
I'm not sure how anyone raised in this country, who has ever read a newspaper, watched TV, looked at a fashion magazine, frequented up scale establishments, gone to movies, etc. can be so certain they were never made to feel the importance of whiteness. The only thing that explains it for me is something I learned in a graduate school psychology course: by the age of five most people begin to see only what they believe instead of believing what they see.
The former does not require that we challenge authority or those we love and ensures our sense of belonging and perhaps even our young sanity.
But there comes a time to grow up.
Jonathan Odell is the author of the acclaimed novel The Healing explores the subversive role of story in the healing of oppressed people. Other works by Odell include MIss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League the story of young mothers, one white and one black who share the devastating loss of children, and a loathing for one another. His first novel, The View from Delphi, deals with the struggle for equality in pre-civil rights Mississippi. .
Born in Mississippi, Odell grew up in the Jim Crow South and became involved in the civil rights movement in college.
Odell is presently working on a volume of personal essays tentatively titled: Growing Up a Gay Fundamentalist Southern Baptist in Mississippi, or, God What Were You Thinking?
Time to Grow Up
On Believing and Seeing