Identity: An American Ideological Franchise

The Power of Victimisation and Color in American politics.

In an episode of “Black in Latin America”, a series on race aired on PBS on the 3rd of May 2011, Harvard Professor of Black Studies, Public Intellectual and television personality Louis Gates Jr. went on an intrepid exploration of race somewhere deep in the guts of what was probably the Mercado Modelo of Sao Salvador, Brazil. What he offered his audience was an object lesson on the power of victimisation and color in American politics and in the construction of its ideological brands.

There, in an impromptu field research encampment, which would have made Gustav Fritsch jealous, Gates gathered a small group of dark-skinned men who he made stand in a semi-circle in front of the lacherou eye of the camera. In one of the most grotesque episodes that American television has produced–a machine that hardly has shown any restraint in producing and promoting the grotesque and the obscene–the Harvard professor sporting the conspicuous light-linen-in-the-tropics uniform, asked these half naked labourers to extend their arms and hold them next to each other’s to assess and compare pigmentation. 

The Brazilians who come from one of the most violent and depressed urban areas of Brazil obey and exhibit for Gates’ racial catalogue…

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