“American culture is obsessed with transgression and to the degree that blackness remains a primary sign of transgression. One could talk about American mainstream culture as being obsessed with blackness, but it is blackness primarily in a commodified form that can then be possessed, owned, controlled, and shaped by the consumer… and not with engagement in Black culture that might require one to be a participant, therefore to be in some way transformed by what you are consuming as opposed to being merely a buyer. Anecdotally, that to me is the difference between a young white male from the suburbs who’s consuming Black music in the form of rap and who’s wearing the same kind of clothes as the hip-hop musicians, but then in fact when he encounters a young black male on the streets, feels the same racialized fear and demonizes that person as any white person who’s had no contact with that music. So, there’s no correlation often between the consumption of the commodity that is blackness and the culture from which that commodity comes, or provides the resource base.
And again, that’s no different from third-world countries. There’s a way in which white culture is perceived as too “wonder bread” right now—not edgy enough, not dangerous enough—let’s get some of those endangered species people to be exotic for us. It’s really simply a more up-scale version of primitivism resurging. When blackness is the sign of transgression that is most desired, it allows whiteness to remain static, to remain conservative, and it’s conservative thrust to go unnoticed. So, as we’re having a mounting fascism in the United States, that is perpetuated increasingly by young, moneyed, liberal white people, if they’re wearing Black clothes or listening to Black music, they can be perceived as transgressive, as radical, when in fact we see a separation between material aspirations and cultural and social interest. So, at any point in time, they can drop their interest in blackness and do whatever they need to do to reinforce their class interest—the interest of white supremacy, the interest of capitalism and imperialism.”