And on that morning of the Simpson verdict, I discovered, to my shame, to my absolute wonder and horror, that in the course of that journey I had, somehow, become a racist. To qualify as a racist you don’t have to go to the extreme of slurring, stereotyping or discriminating against people of another race. All you have to do, as I realized on that autumn morning in 1995, is feel completely disconnected from them.
--Michael Chabon, NY Times, "O.J. Simpson, Racial Utopia and the Moment That Inspired My Novel"There is something, I think, very compelling about the sentiment above. What I really find interesting about the rest of the article is that he talks about the problem of standing back and observing the other, not connecting as real people, but doesn't seem to realize that he's doing it, right there, in the rest of the piece. The fetishization of the pigment line on his classmate's hand? His sadness over lost "connection," while brushing aside any actual engagement with the reasons for that disconnect? His romanticization of non-existent racial utopia? It's highly problematic and, if not quite racist, then somehow dismissive, patronizing, condescending, glib -- I can't quite put my finger on the term I want here, to describe the way in which the attitude is "off." But it sits wrong with me, somehow, like a wistful paean to his own privileged distance.