Regarding Racial/Erotic Politics
I have argued in this book that ‘‘normality’’ has a long history as a covertly
political phenomenon. Despite its superficial neutrality, the concept has
worked to justify and further white racial dominance. That racial domi-
nance, I have suggested, is not meaningfully separable from the political and
cultural valorization of emotionally intimate monogamous marriage be-
tween gender-polarized opposite-sex adults as the only truly civilized, mod-
ern, and fully human site for sexual expression. One of the most powerful
and long-lasting arguments for the legitimacy of white rule has taken the
form of a claim to special racial access to self-control, and especially to
private discipline expressing sensitivity to the good of the whole, which is
regularly represented by and through ‘‘normal’’ marriage. I do not mean to
suggest that racial and sexual norms have remained static since Joan Craw-
ford was a jazz baby. Yet despite the massive cultural transformations of the
past sixty or eighty years, the discursive connections that tie sexual and racial
normality to legitimate membership in American culture have remained
strong. Racial ideology continues to be implicated in the cultural and politi-
cal dispossession of sexually non-normative people, who are still figured as
the barbarians at the gates of culture. Sexual ideology continues to contrib-
ute to the burdens of racism that confront people of color, who still struggle
against the dominant cultural expectation that their morality is inherently
Further, I have shown that the consolidation of ‘‘normal’’ sexuality helped
to justify white dominance by depicting whiteness not only as superior but
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