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Ask me about Race!

In an effort to create a more open dialogue on race in my social media feeds and public persona, I have decided to spend this summer working with you, readers. More specifically, I want to answer your questions about race! Typically, my Facebook feed fills with name-calling and shouting with little use of understanding and empathy from people interacting with my racial challenges and statements. My Twitter feed has better activity, but I mostly only follow other scholars interested in racial studies (which leaves us with little debate). Therefore, I want to create a more intimate forum for some of us to interact.

I plan to use my blog this summer for this purpose. During the day hours, I will spend most of my time researching and writing my dissertation (I am about 2/3 through the first chapter!), but at nights I want to spend time with this blog. Being a typical academic, most nights leave me feeling useless, as I always want to spend my time more productively. So I figure I could spend the time with each of you, haha.

Okay, so here is the setup: I am going to make this blog post public tonight, May 12th. If you want to leave a question about race you can do so in the comment section below the blog (which will allow you to remain anonymous). Or you can send me a question via my Facebook, Messenger, or Twitter feed (@JChaseSanchez). Whatever seems most comfortable for you will be fine for me.

I will only answer questions that are serious (sorry trolls), and if I get enough questions, I would like to spend time answering them once a week. I will use research to answer these questions and will always cite sources, and lastly, I will provide suggested reading for anyone who wants to keep reading about the subject.

Okay, the forum is open. I hope to hear some great questions from you soon. And if you have any logistical questions, please let me know.

–James Chase Sanchez

The Stain of Racial Memories and my Public Persona

I have been thinking a lot lately about my own agency in discussions about racism on Facebook. As most of you know, I have dedicated my research and teaching to racism and hope to base my career studying the rhetorics of race. I didn’t get to this moment on my own, though. My interest in racism slowly grew as I finished my MA in English literature. I published a paper on John Steinbeck’s views of race in East of Eden, and as I entered into my PhD program in Rhetoric and Composition, I began to realize my interest in race. New theories in legal and cultural studies, critical race theory and postcolonial theory, grabbed my attention during coursework. And as I moved into my third-year, I knew race was a subject I had to write about my entire life.

My studies were not the only thing that lead me to this point, though. My perception of the world began to change too. I was raised in a white household, in a white town, and was only brown because of my skin. I did not speak Spanish nor have an accent. I sounded like “normal” Americans and fit into this group as well. And as I moved to a larger city after my primary education, I really did not think race had affected my life at all.

But that was untrue. Race had been a major part of my education in my hometown; rather, I remember being racialized. My nicknames in high school were “Wetback” and “Beaner.” I remember coaches saying not to piss off the black kids because they were better athletes when angry. I remember taking part of chants after pep rallies, “We’re alright cuz we’re all white!” That never made sense to me because we had a large Latina/o population. But these words by peers, friends, and authoritative figures showed me how racial my childhood was. That wasn’t okay. People should not say these things to one another. Adults shouldn’t tell kids such things. This would not be acceptable in other communities, so why was is it acceptable in mine?

This pain affected me once I left the town and realized this climate was not the norm. People don’t grow up thinking they can openly say racist things to people. I harbor this pain daily, and I strive to better my environment and educate my friends who still think this sort of thing is okay.

So now we make a full circle. This pain in my formative years makes me who I am today. I use my social media feeds as a way to promote racial equality. I feel that if I can show the people around me the pain that other suffer through systemic racism, if I can show that daily, maybe, just maybe, people might start to see differently about race. So I explore how people talk about race to demonstrate how racism still pervades today.

However, I understand my persona can come off as combative at times, and that is not what I want to do. From now on, I will continue to post the racial pains of those suffering today, but I will no longer be combative. I will take part in honest conversation as best as I can, but I do not want to come off as a “know-it-all.” So I will refuse to. If any of you have any honest questions, please feel free to inquire.

No one can take my memories away from me. No one can take my experiences away from me. I have witnessed a racism that will continually persuade me to fight against it, and I believe this energy is what propels me to be so active in my scholarship and on social media. This energy, however, can become more inviting and less dickish. So I promise you readers and engagers, to promote the racialized pain in the world and to call for love at the same time. It is the least I can do.