جنة

I was playing a word association game with your name ‘Jannah’ جنة in the original Arabic). It is the name for the garden of Paradise.

The word-association went like this:

Jannah – garden – trees – belonging – roots – branches – cousins

You have a lovely mix of cousins from the branches of our family tree. Blended into your paternal Anglo-Saxon blood is your half-Arab (Palestinian) cousin, and your half-African (Ghanaian) cousin.

From my Indian side, you have cousins who are half-Slavic (Bosnian).

All of us are a mixture of what we term ‘races’. When W. E. B Dubois wrote ‘The Souls of Black Folk’ and said:

“… the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line”  http://routledgesoc.com/profile/critical-race-and-postcolonial-theory

I am quite certain he anticipated the ‘problem’ families such as ours have been creating over the centuries. I like what he says by highlighting how difficult an experience it is:

“To the real question, How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word.”  http://routledgesoc.com/node/352/take

However, the fact that a child can have a very different skin tone to her mother is not a problem for critical race theorists, because the idea of race is less to do with skin colour and biology and more to do with creating lines, walls and distinctions:

 “For critical race scholars, racial categories like Black, White, Latino, Asian, Mulatto, Quadroon, etc., are social constructions, produced not by biology but by social relationships, cultural meanings, and institutions like law, politics, religion, and the state. Moreover, critical race theorists also argue that the construct of “race” has been a central aspect of modern social organization and modern forms of knowledge like human biology, medicine, and law.” http://routledgesoc.com/profile/critical-race-and-postcolonial-theory

Additionally, historical accounts have a lot to do with what we term ‘race’, because racism is ingrained in it. According to the online dictionary, racism is:

“1.1 The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races” http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/racism

And so this belief is what we find in the narrative of imperialism that became established as the ‘official account’ of human history, according to Edward Said.

Now, our conversations about ‘race’ have to be as self-aware as Abdul R. JanMohamed wants them to be from his observation that the imperialist desire to dominate makes him see ‘confrontation’ between differences of skin colour, language, social customs etc. For a really comprehensive discussion, we have to leave behind our desire to dominate and ‘severely bracket’ our assumptions and ideologies, thereby leaving behind the security that it all provides.  http://philpapers.org/rec/JANTEO-4

Ah but security is all we ever want, and even I keep digging for roots.

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