If Latin America had not been pillaged by the U.S. capital since its independence, millions of desperate workers would not now be coming here in such numbers to reclaim a share of that wealth; and if the United States is today the world’s richest nation, it is in part because of the sweat and blood of the copper workers of Chile, the tin miners of Bolivia, the fruit pickers of Guatemala and Honduras, the cane cutters of Cuba, the oil workers of Venezuela and Mexico, the pharmaceutical workers of Puerto Rico, the ranch hands of Costa Rica and Argentina, the West Indians who died building the Panama Canal, and the Panamanians who maintained it.
DMV ✈️ NY
One recent example of how racialized bodies are abused happened recently. At the New Chaucer Society Conference, I spent a portion of my conference tweeting one night at #NCS14 in a “twitter rant” or “PSA.” In it, I related the incident of another junior colleague who had an incident happen to her at one of the NCS cocktail hours. In it, a cisgendered, male, able-bodied, and white junior colleague decided to articulate vocally his surprise that she, a WOC (woman of color) medievalist, had such a “good job.”
Likewise, he also proceeded to school her in how she should be a medievalist by suggesting that she should teach “ethnic fantasy literature” to undergraduate students. My colleague replied, I have neither expertise in ethnic literature nor in fantasy fiction. However, even this clear response did not seem to stop this male white medievalist from explaining her place in the academic world. And her place is apparently not one of authority in medieval studies—where she has completed a Ph.D., written peer-reviewed articles, and obtained an academic job—entirely because her body is non-normative.
Intersectional racism/sexism means that my colleague’s non-normative body will always have questions and “advice” like this lobbed at her (and yes, also lobbed at me). Likewise, no one will ever ask or “advise” this white, male, cisgendered, able-bodied white junior faculty member to teach ethnic fantasy literature or wonder surprisingly or loudly about the fact that he has obtained a tenure-track job in medieval studies. This is a classic example of white, male privilege. And yes, his comments to my WOC colleague are a form of racism (racial/gendered microaggressions). The structures within academia and our field have imagined authority as white, male, upper-middle class, and cisgendered. Divergence from this standard operating body is imagined as a disturbance.