<html><head /> <style type="text/css"> <!-- .style2 {font-size: x-small} --> </style> <style type="text/css"> <!-- .style1 { font-size: xx-small; font-style: italic; } --> </style> <body> <META http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-16"><title>Like One of the Family</title><meta name="keywords" content="family,racism,african-american,Alice,america,americans,black,categories,childress,citizenship,collins,constructs,ethnicity,gender,hierarchy,hill,identity,inequality,kinship,margaret,mead,national,Native,nonwhites,patricia,power,race,social,states,status,structures,united,US,woman,women,groups,"><table style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:larger; " align="center" border="0" width="50%"><tbody><tr> <td style="background-color:silver; border-color:white; border-left-style:none; border-style:none; " width="730"><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:larger; ">Like One of the Family</span></td> </tr> <tr> </tr> </tbody></table><br><table style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:medium; " align="center" bgcolor="white" border="0" width="50%"><tbody><tr> <td height="131" width="669"><p><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small;"><strong>Editors Introduction</strong></span><span style="font-family:Verdana; "></span><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; "><IMG SRC="auth_Collins.jpg" WIDTH="90" HEIGHT="119" ALT="Collins" VSPACE="10" HSPACE="10" BORDER="0" ALIGN="right"> What is the relationship between family, race and state? According to Patricia Hill Collins (right), these variables are crucial for understanding implicit and explicit forms of racism in American society. She argues that at the very foundations of the American nation-state as a white settlers' society was a harmful nexus of relationships, which positioned the white settler as a first-class citizen of white America and the black slave as a second-class citizen of white America--a dynamic that is in effect even today.</span></p> <p> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; "><A HREF="1558_500.ram" TARGET="_blank"><IMG src="audioicon.gif" id="3752" type="3" align="left" width="72" height="27" name="" url="1558_500.ram"></A>Patricia Hill Collins discusses race, class and citizenship.</span></p> <p><br> <span style="font-size:x-small;"><strong>A tale of two races</strong></span><br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">The vignette that I bring to you is from a work entitled <i>Like One of the Family</i>, written by Alice Childress, a largely forgotten African-American writer. Childress created something really quite unusual in the political economy of intellectual production in the United States: an African-American writer writing to an African-American audience through a medium controlled by African-Americans, in this case a black newspaper in the 1950s put together by Paul Robeson. There are 62 fictional monologues that Alice Childress created; in these, she introduces the character of Mildred. When Mildred returns from going out into the world, she tells her friend Marge about all of the things that she has seen and done:</span></p> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; "><blockquote>Hi Marge, I have had me one hectic day. Well I had to take out my crystal ball and give Mrs. C a thorough reading. &#91;Mrs. C is the boss.&#93; Well she's a pretty nice woman as they go and I have never had too much trouble with her, but from time to time she really gripes me with her ways. Today she had a girlfriend of hers over to lunch and I was real busy afterwards clearing the things away and she called me over and introduced me to the woman. Oh no Marge, I didn't object to that at all, I greeted the lady and then went back to my work and then it started. I could hear her talking just as loud and she says to her friend. "We just love her. She's like one of the family and she just adores our little Carol, we don't know what we'd do without her. We don't think of her as a servant ..." and on and on she went. And every time I came in to move a plate off the table, both of them would grin at me like Cheshire cats.</blockquote></span> <p><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">The above passage from <i>Like One of the Family</i> suggests two important themes concerning the relation between race, ethnicity and US national identity. The first is how various racial ethnic groups perceive the differential treatment that routinely accompanies differential citizenship categories. This vignette suggests two views of the meaning of race and ethnicity in US society: one advanced by more powerful groups who minimise its importance and the other by less powerful groups who have limited venues to advance alternative arguments. The superficial dialogue between Mrs. C and Mildred is just as Mrs. C wants it; pinioning Mildred within the framework of a beloved yet second-class family member allows Mrs. C to ignore the power relations linking the two women. Moreover, Mrs. C's reliance on seemingly natural authority structures within her understanding of the meaning of family allows her to mask the real power involved. The qualifier "like" is crucial here, for it signals the power of Mrs. C to define what family means and to position Mildred within her definition of a normal family. As long as Mildred knows her place in the family as a subordinated worker, she can stay.</span></p> <p align="center"> <img src="1558_nanny.jpg" id="4288" type="3" align="center" width="160" height="175" url="1558_nanny.jpg"></p> <p align="center" class="style1 style2"><span style="font-family:Verdana;font-size:x-small">Like one of the family but not part of the family: a black nanny reads to her white employers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Understandings of American national identity resonate with similar scenes. Mrs. C's perception that she treated Mildred <i>like</i> one of her family mirrors widespread belief among white Americans that African-Americans, Native Americans, Chicanos, Puerto Ricans and other historically oppressed racial ethnic groups are treated equally within US society. This is not a politics of exclusion but one of containment. American nonwhites are <i>like</i> us, they are connected to us, but they are <i>not</i> us, such views suggest. In this context, as Mrs. C's verbosity and Mildred's forced silences reveal, white Americans rarely get to hear uncensored views expressed by African-Americans on their seemingly shared American experiences.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Mrs. C's words in this passage also signal a second important theme, namely, the significance of family rhetoric in normalising and naturalising this entire process. Unlike feminist analyses that blame white men for racial oppression yet remain strangely silent concerning white women's culpability, Childress's passage reveals how racial power operates among women. By this move she implicates both men and women in constructing racial inequality and introduces an important gender analysis into discussions of US citizenship. Both families and the women associated with them are thought to fall outside public activities that legislate racial, ethnic and citizenship classification.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Yet relegating women to the private sphere of the family effectively removes gender from important political questions concerning race, ethnicity and US citizenship. By depicting how racial hierarchy is constructed and naturalised within a family setting, Childress's vignette dissolves this public-private binary. It encourages us to examine the dual function of family. Family operates as an ideological construction that masks power relations, namely, the ideas invoked by Mrs. C to position Mildred as a subordinate family member. At the same time, family constitutes a fundamental principle of social organisation. Mrs. C and Mildred are members of separate families, marked by characteristics of race and class, and those things make a difference.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Using the experiences of African-American women such as Mildred as a touchstone, I explore how this construct of US black women as <i>like</i> one of the family--in other words, legally part of the US but holding second-class citizenship within it--fosters our understanding of the connections between race, ethnicity and US national identity. Mildred's predicament illustrates a fundamental paradox of US national identity: namely, how the promise of individual rights guaranteed to her via US law remains juxtaposed to the reality of the differential group treatment she receives due to her race, gender and class, among other categories. Mildred's situation also provides important clues to how these relations become seen as normal and natural as well as the significance of family rhetoric and practices to these twin normalisation and naturalisation processes.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size:x-small;"><strong>Citizenship, race and national identity</strong></span><br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">The French philosopher &Eacute;tienne Balibar identifies two related forms of racism that appear across diverse societies. The first is something called "external racism." This is racism directed at groups who seemingly fall outside the imagined or actual neighbourhood, region, nation-state or home territory of a seemingly superior racial group. As racisms of elimination or extermination, external racisms find expression through ideas and practices designed to maintain the homogeneity of the home space. They operate by purifying a society of the threat that allegedly inferior races may represent, expressed via practices such as xenophobia, genocide or "ethnic cleansing."</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">By contrast, "internal racism" occurs when powerful racial groups include allegedly inferior racial groups within society--yet also subordinate those same groups. Practices associated with internal racism oppress or exploit racial groups to benefit more powerful groups. All this is expressed via practices such as colonialism, apartheid and racial segregation. While analytically distinct, neither form typically appears by itself, and external and internal racisms remain deeply intertwined.</span></p> <p align="center"> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; "><IMG src="1558_slave.jpg" id="4290" type="3" align="center" width="135" height="120" url="1558_slave.jpg"></span></p> <p align="center" class="style2"><span style="font-family:Verdana;"><em>A black slave couple plants sugarcane.</em></span></p> <p><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">I am interested in what happens when these dual racisms become integral to the founding moments of a nation-state, when they are not just added on after the fact but are fundamental to that nation-state's identity from inception. National identity itself can become so compromised by deeply embedded racial processes that it becomes difficult to conceive of national identity in terms other than racial. I would argue that the formation of the United States as a nation-state sadly reflects this tightly bundled nexus of external/internal racism and national identity. In forming a white settlers' society, the European immigrants who founded the American colonies saw their search for land and resources as their right. During the Colonial period you see the forming of a core triangle between white immigrant groups, native peoples and enslaved Africans; you also see a particular combination of internal and external racisms that are bundled with the very identity of the nation itself.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Native peoples encountered the external racism of being treated as foreign peoples or nations who were initially conquered and often exterminated in warfare, and who were subsequently subordinated via public policies that were dedicated to their exclusion. Enslaved Africans encountered the internal racism of being commodified and exchanged on the marketplace, then exploited via manual and reproductive labour. The latter racial group was needed; the former was not. Moreover, these interconnections among European immigrant groups, native peoples and African peoples formed the template for constructing categories of US citizenship: the first-class white citizen; the foreigner who stands outside citizenship; and the intergenerationally subordinated second-class black citizen.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">During this process, various ethnicities within each of these racial categories were collapsed into racial categories, so that English, French, Norwegian, German and Irish became white Americans, whose power eventually allowed them to erase whiteness as a visible identity category, thus becoming just plain old Americans. This did not allow them to erase class differences; whites have class, but they do not have race. Cherokee, Sioux, Navajo and Pueblo became Indians, or Native Americans, and these would be considered ethnic groups or peoples who were removed from the body politic and ghettoised in quasi-autonomous colonies of reservations. Igbo, Urabo, Fulani and Fang became enslaved Africans, then slaves, then niggers, who upon migration to cities encountered a process of ghettoisation parallel to that which was first visited upon native peoples. Both native peoples and blacks had race and they stood as proxy for class in this particular setting. Thus the three founding racial groups of whites, Indians and slaves enshrined in US law and custom required collapsed multiple ethnicities assigned to each overarching racial category to create the very racial categories themselves.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">In the United States there is a tradition of defining race as one field of study and ethnicity as a completely different field of study. What I'm arguing here is something quite different. I'm really talking about the intertwining situation of race and ethnicity and how it was foundational to national identity. As markers of citizenship rights, racial categories framed different ways of belonging to the nation-state itself: first-class citizenship for propertied whites; an ambiguous citizenship status for Native Americans, which is still contested; and second-class citizenship for people of African descent.</span></p> <p align="center"> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; "><IMG src="1558_baldwin.jpg" id="4289" type="3" align="center" width="120" height="155" url="1558_baldwin.jpg"></span></p> <p align="center" class="style2"><span style="font-family:Verdana;"><em>James Baldwin.</em></span></p> <p><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Groups who migrate into this paradoxical situation face the challenge of negotiating these identities. It was difficult for some white immigrant groups to make the shift from being a subordinated race in a different nation-state and move to the United States, where they discovered that they could become a privileged group by shedding that ethnicity and embracing a new racial identity that isn't a racial identity at all. African-Americans forced to watch this Americanisation process that erased ethnicity as the price of belonging often found this to be a bitter pill to swallow. The African-American author James Baldwin, in <i>A Rap on Race</i> with the anthropologist Margaret Mead, describes the significance of race in definitions of American. He says this:</span></p> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; "><blockquote>I had my fill of seeing people come down the gangplank on Wednesday let us say speaking not a word of English and by Friday discovering that I was working for them and they were calling me nigger like everybody else, so that the Italian adventure or even the Jewish adventure however grim is distinguished from my own adventure by one thing, not only am I black, I am one of OUR niggers. Americans can treat me in a certain way because I AM an American. They would never treat an African the way they treat me.</blockquote></span><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Now, this is going to be a very important passage a bit later on in the presentation, but I can talk more about this process because the United States is currently undergoing a very interesting period, the so-called "browning of America," where racial categories are being reformulated yet again. But I would still argue that, when the dust settles (unless we intervene), we'll see the same triangle of white, black and native in the same relationships to one another regardless of where individuals choose to situate themselves in there.</span><br><br><span style="font-size:x-small;"><strong>The language of family</strong></span><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">The American family ideal normalised and naturalised racial hierarchy. How did we come to see this as normal and natural, and how did this replicate itself over time?</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">To answer this we should look to some feminist debates about the family to shed light on how this naturalisation and normalisation process happens. Contemporary debates about gender hierarchies have identified the ways in which family rhetoric concerning an American family ideal contributes to women's oppression. Family is a site not of a natural biological arrangement but of a socially constructed situation of power that is directly tied to women's subordination in wider society. Things that we consider to be natural and normal in terms of heterosexual couples who produce their own biological children are social constructions. A well-functioning family protecting and balancing the interests of all of its members can in fact be seen as a structure that is quite central to manufacturing hierarchy.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Despite the seeming unity of interest among family members, hierarchies not only exist but are deemed to be natural and necessary for family survival. Normal families have a natural authority structure, the father head earning an adequate family wage, with a stay-at-home wife and children. Those who idealise this family form as a private haven from a public world see family as held together primarily by emotional bonds of love and caring across this structure. People are in a natural authority structure, and they love one another within this natural authority structure. Are you beginning to hear the resonating words of Mrs. C, "Oh, we just <i>love</i> Mildred" and "She just <i>loves</i> our Carol," expressing the need to reproduce those emotional bonds to mask these relationships? This traditional American family ideal assumes a relatively fixed sexual division of labour, wherein women's roles are defined primarily in terms of reproductive labour in the home and men's in the public world of work.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">The significance of the American family ideal for gender hierarchy suggests that family rhetoric might also function for other social hierarchies, and that's what I want to play around with. Family rhetoric reappears to normalise and naturalise social hierarchies of class and age, among others. For example, in Alice Childress's vignette Mrs. C needed to believe that Mildred was, in fact, like one of the family. This belief enabled Mrs. C to ignore the obvious class exploitation inherent in generations of Mildreds working for generations of Mrs. Cs, as well as Mrs. C's own culpability in these class relations. Beliefs about the naturalness of hierarchy within family allowed her to normalise the contradictions of first- and second-class citizenship distinguishing her life chances from those afforded Mildred.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">This particular family rhetoric legitimates hierarchies within family households who contain biologically joined family members as well as members of households who come and go and perform work for those families. At the same time it lays the foundation for social hierarchies that use family households as their building blocks. For example, racially segregated housing in the United States is quite significant in the class politics of the United States. In the US you'll often hear things like "Oh, it's not that I wanted to move away from the black people. It wasn't anything personal against them, it was for my family." Or "It was just property values, to maintain the value of my house." That is something you hear fairly frequently.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Age and seniority structures are another area where family rhetoric can serve to mask this natural hierarchy. Families technically have seniority structures: the old can tell the young what to do. Part of what made that whole structure natural and normal was "he was born first" or "she was born first" or "he got here first," therefore first gets more, first gets more power. I think this ties in quite nicely with questions of seniority in the labour market; the whole notion of "first hired, last fired" is a principle of the seniority system. But what that tends to ignore is the discrimination that might have occurred in earlier periods of time when there was not fair competition.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Using a series of interrelated exclusionary and inclusionary practices, the rhetoric associated with the American family ideal naturalises and normalises racial and ethnic meanings in the United States. One important component of the naturalisation process concerns how presumptions of blood ties frame the perceived links among blood, family, kin and race. In the United States, concepts of family and kinship draw strength from the flow of blood as a substance that regulates the spread of rights. While the legal system is deeply implicated in legitimating marriages for heterosexual partners, the importance given to the seemingly natural bonds between mothers and children, brothers and sisters, grandmothers and grandchildren signals the importance of blood in crafting biological and, therefore, naturalised definitions of family.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Given the significance attached to biology, women of different racial and ethnic groups have varying responsibilities in maintaining the seemingly natural blood ties. For example, women like Mrs. C play a special role in keeping family bloodlines pure. Prior to contemporary reproductive technologies, creating white families required controlling white women's sexuality largely through social norms that advocated premarital virginity. By marrying white men and engaging in sexual relations only with their husbands, white women ensured the racial purity of white families. Thus, through observing social taboos that eschewed premarital sexuality and interracial marriage for white women, white families could thereby avoid racial degeneration. Now, when inserted into naturalised hierarchies of gender, race, class and nations, and into institutional mechanisms such as racially segregated states and state-sanctioned violence, efforts to regulate sexuality in marriage reinforce beliefs in the sanctity of blood ties.</span><br><br><span style="font-size:x-small;"><strong>The American national family</strong></span><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Let me connect the American family ideal and US national identity. If the US nation-state is conceptualised as an American national family, patterned after the American family ideal, then the standards used to assess the contributions of family members in idealised families become essential for assessing group contributions to US national well-being. Within this logic, black Americans and native peoples become the domestic "others." They are like one of the family, whereas racial ethnic immigrants become the foreign, black and Latino immigrants for whom other strategies of control are reserved. A curious reversal takes place. Native-born or domestic blacks and native peoples become quasi women, because they are seen as property of the men in the family, or of the state, in this case. They become redefined as approximate threats. Just as women are required for the idealised family and subordinated within it, black difference and deviance remain necessary yet must be subordinated.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">In contrast, foreign-born blacks and Latinos become the true outsiders, those who must be contained via exclusionary mechanisms, quarantined until they are proved worthy of entry into the national family. The irony is striking, because domestic blacks and native peoples are natural albeit subordinate members of the national family. And because their subordination is integral to the triangular foundations of US national identity itself, the need to keep them subordinated and thus keep the national family intact can be fought even more strenuously than the perceived threat of the new outsiders.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Margaret Mead's response to James Baldwin's views on this Americanisation process identifies the gendered foundation of how being <i>like</i> family fosters differential treatment. Drawing a parallel between race and gender, Mead notes, "Getting back to treating your own worse than other people, many men won't put up with from their wives what they will put up with from other women because their wives are theirs and they are going to stay home and do what their husbands want." Within Mead's family property model, domestic Negroes and native peoples become equated with wives within families.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Now let me say a few things about this whole naturalisation and normalisation process on a national level and not just on the family level. First, let us consider the connections between family and citizenship and how people understand citizenship. I would argue that they understand it through family language. Naturalised hierarchies learned in family units influence understandings of citizenship. Commonsense understandings of family suggest that individuals feel that they owe something to and are responsible for members of their family. For example, these family members may borrow money from you, they may come and take your car and wreck it, they may sleep in your house, they may eat your food, they may show up unannounced, but they're still family, so you feel you owe them something.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">This whole notion of responsibility toward, ownership over, accountability to is something that we take with us from our understanding of family members. It doesn't have anything to do with merit. It has to do with the fact that we're blood, we're family, we belong, and I would argue that citizenship categories imply a similar logic. But when that whole logic becomes racialised, as it has in the United States, you have virtually permanent first- and second-class citizenship treatment, because those blood ties underlie that understanding of citizenship in some very fundamental ways, and that is why I started with the triangular-relationship concept. We should not be distracted by the multiple groups of colour who are now in the United States. It's not about colour; it's about power.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Another theme that we might consider in looking at this whole citizenship category is the significance of family space and property in maintaining this notion of a racialised US national identity. The logic here is that all families and all races belong in certain places: that is your place, your neighbourhood; this is my place, my neighbourhood; your family belongs there, my family belongs here. The whole notion grows very much from the idea of family space as private home space that should not be invaded by outsiders. It is the stuff for which wars have been fought, to maintain the integrity of family borders; likewise, to maintain the integrity of national borders.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Finally, as is the case with all situations of hierarchy, actual or implicit use of force, sanctions and violence may be needed to maintain unequal power relations. People do not go willingly into hierarchy. Usually there are uprisings, carrying-on and complaining, so that force is very often used to teach or maintain relationships. Very often when we look at these naturalised and normalised situations, the force is explained away by family secrets: keep it quiet; we're just going to beat up on our domestic black folks. The only reason you find out about it is when you have a particularly egregious case, like the case of Rodney King in Los Angeles, which precipitated a riot.</span><br><br><span style="font-size:x-small;"><strong>A tale of two races concluded</strong></span><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Addressing the paradox within US national identity that juxtaposes individual rights with group discrimination requires listening to those with different interpretations of how family rhetoric knits together hierarchies of race, ethnicity, gender and nation. Embedded in Alice Childress's words given to Mildred lie a series of ideas that typically remain suppressed because they are advanced by less powerful groups. After hearing Mrs. C's claims that Mildred was "like one of the family," Mildred proclaimed, "Mrs. C, I want to have a talk with you." In that talk Mildred provides a rich challenge to dominant constructions of race, ethnicity and the meaning of belonging.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">First and foremost, Mildred rejects her subordination within the family, a radical idea. People who are oppressed don't like it. They don't <i>love</i> it. Mildred is not seduced by the promise of better treatment afforded her because, unlike her black women counterparts who are not allowed in Mrs. C's house, she is like one of the family:</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; "><blockquote>Mrs. C, you are a pretty nice person to work for, but I wish you would please stop talking about me like I was a cocker spaniel or a kitten. Now you just sit there and hear me out. In the first place you do not LOVE me, you may be fond of me, but that is all. In the second place, I am not just like one of the family at all. The family eats in the dining room and I eat in the kitchen. Your mama borrows your lace tablecloth for her company and your son entertains his friends in your parlour. Your daughter takes her afternoon nap on the living room couch and the puppy sleeps on your satin spread. So you can see I am not just like one of the family.</blockquote></span><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Rejecting her objectification, Mildred clearly describes the distinctions between first- and second-class citizenship in the C family and points out that the benefits of full membership are denied to her. Moreover, Mildred identifies two dimensions of second-class citizenship, the ways in which black women have been subordinated within this language of family. Mildred claims that black women can be used as pets to serve at the whim of more powerful whites, or as mules, beasts of burden to perform the labour that makes the assumed family norm possible at all. She identifies both and rejects both.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Mildred then moves on to detail how many of the ideas attributed to her concerning her acceptance of her subordinate status are just that, ideas attributed to her by more powerful groups who need ideologies such as the American family ideal to mask the actual power relationships. Take, for example, her explicit rejection of the black nanny role, one that vests black women as having unlimited love and affection for their white children. Note how Mildred refutes this particular race/gender relationship among US black and white women. Here's what she says:</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; "><blockquote>Now for another thing. I do not just adore your little Carol. I think she is a likeable child, but she is also fresh and sassy. I know you call it uninhibited and that is the way you want your child to be, but luckily my mother taught me some inhibitions or else I would smack little Carol once in a while when she's talking to you like you're a dog, but as it is I just laugh it off the way you do, because she is your child and I am NOT like one of the family.</blockquote></span><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Now, this is a powerful rejection of the dominant ideology of childcare that privileges children in white middle-class families. Speaking from her particular situation, Mildred rejects dominant feminist ideologies that all women share a common feminist consciousness stemming from their relationships, their relations with motherhood or reproductive issues. Here Mildred draws a line in the sand. Mrs. C stands on one side and Mildred on the other, because Mildred works for Mrs. C and must keep quiet in the face of practices concerning little Carol that she clearly does not condone. Mildred also challenges how Mrs. C's use of family rhetoric obscures class inequalities. In this case, Mrs. C wants to believe that Mildred is so happy to serve that she would be flattered by Mrs. C missing her. Mildred is having none of that, either. Here's what she says:</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; "><blockquote>Now when you say we don't know what we'd do without her, this is a polite lie, because I know if I drop dead or had a stroke you would get somebody to replace me. You think it is a compliment when you say, we don't think of her as a servant, but after I have worked myself into a sweat cleaning the bathroom and the kitchen, making the beds, cooking the lunch, washing the dishes, I do not feel like no weekend house-guest, I feel like a servant and in the face I have been meaning to ask you for a slight raise, which would make me feel much better toward everyone here and make me know my work IS appreciated.</blockquote></span><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">In the space of their conversation Mildred was able to challenge not only ideas about race and gender that constructed her as lesser but actual practices that forced her into economic subordination. Mildred not only refuted ideas that she was like one of the family; she asked for a raise while doing so. Via these actions she points out that race talk can be dismissed in the absence of concrete actions that aim to redress past inequalities. No matter how much Mrs. C commiserated with Mildred's situation, finding more money and granting Mildred a raise might mean much more to Mildred than well-intended albeit impotent race talk. As Mildred reminds us, when it comes to the promises of American national identity, being <i>like</i> one of the family gets you close, but it is simply not good enough.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; font-style:italic; ">This article is taken from a lecture given at the London School of Economics and Political Science on June 8, 2000. Copyright The London School of Economics and Political Science.</span></td> </tr> </tbody></table> </body></html>