Gender Studies: The Queer of Color Theory

The Queer of Color Theory

As a diverse field of studies that includes multiple disparate ideas and points of view, the queer theory incorporates color issues. To understand the experiences of people different from the predominant groups, one should refer to the queer of color theory that “seeks to disrupt binarism and normalcy in social institutions and structures” in terms of persons of different races.1 The purpose of the present paper is to identify the most significant elements of the theory and explain their importance. In this respect, the correlation between power and gender theory, the socio-cultural changes, and the past and present through the lens of the theory are considered.

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To begin with, power is what both individuals and different social groups urge. While the opportunity to translate one’s schemes into actions and satisfy one’s needs is universal, it is simultaneously connected with more specific facts and implications. It may be stated that, in the early stages, the queer of color theory used to be a political and theoretical critique of heteronormativity: in other words, it may be called a critique of the institutions, schemes, relationships, patterns, and acts that regard heterosexuality as homogeneous and natural.2

The social sciences of the past examined hierarchy and studied the reason for the top-down way of organizing systems: male-female, heterosexual-homosexual, white-non-white; the first component of which pair was considered to be the norm while the second was automatically turned into the anomaly. However, in the course of time, there was a shift towards different issues. Since the twentieth century, the modern authors have been interested in the approach that combines the results of the gender studies, feminist theory, and power research.

Owing to this fusion, the question why some forms of identity become preferable comes to prominence.3 As I understand it, power is essential in the context of the queer of color theory because it is relevant to any society. While the experience of the past helps recognize the roots of the problem, one has a chance to improve the current situation. This aspect of the theory evolves, and it is probable to orientate oneself in the modern society where various persons and social strata seek for power.

The socio-cultural changes are another constituent of the queer of color theory that is, in my opinion, of paramount importance. It implies close connections between an epoch and attitudes towards the deviation and order. The changes in one component are to result in the mutation of the other. As long as the traditional hierarchy is doubted and religion loses its influence, people manage to form their new identities and develop in spite of the existing boundaries.

The market growth, the communication increase, and literacy led to the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment emphasis on a human being.4 Further, urbanization and the density of population gave the opportunity to establish new forms of relationship. The progress of the queer of color theory has also been facilitated by the phenomena of workers’ rights movement, the abolitionist movement, and feminism. The constant changes characterize the theory. Nowadays, it may even become non-intuitive: the queer theory became synonymous with white gay men, although the initial intention was to take into account a wide range of groups.5

Overall, the social and cultural environment affects the way people perceive the reality and at the same time might change the contents of the theory. Working with the queer of color theory, one should scrutinize the setting and assess the tendencies prior to arriving at conclusions.

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The third element of the queer of color theory is connected with cultural and social research in the context of the history and modern society. The idea is that theoretical frameworks appear, develop, and become obsolete, but the social processes of the past and their essence remain the same. It is probable to study the phenomena of the past and apply newly created frameworks, and the queer of color theory may be applied to various historical periods.6 It is not only the feature of the twentieth- and twenty-first century but also the peculiarity of any society that may be either emphasized and determined or not identified specifically.

To sum it up, the queer of color theory has changed significantly, but it seems to remain relevant today. Three elements, such as the focus on power, the socio-cultural innovations, and the social development over different historical periods, become significant. Thus, to understand the present-day processes and phenomena, these components may be of great help.

Writing the History of Queers of Color

To record any history objectively is not an easy task: it is necessary not only to select proper materials in accordance with one’s goal but also to have access to credible sources. The more complicated and controversial issues are the focus of the specialists’ attention, the more difficulties they have to face. It is relevant to the history of queer of colors. One may state that the obstacles associated with studying their past refer to reliability.

In this context, the invisibility of queers of color that characterizes the initial situation and early development phases, the prejudice against queer people including the non-whites, and problems pertaining to older research papers and other academic sources are the realms of concern: they make a substantial impact on writing the history of queers of color.

First and foremost, the political and social climate had a strong influence on queer people. The word “queer” used to be offensive, and the environment not only failed to encourage people to identify themselves openly but also made them invisible.7 In other words, the situation concerning their status was unfavorable: in those circumstances, a queer person preferred not to reveal their identity and kept silent because of the potential dangers, the lack of understanding, and the impossibility to adapt to the surroundings.

As a result, it is probable to guesstimate that many facts, events, and details will never be discovered since the participants, the queers and the individuals and agencies opposing them, did not speak up. It means that even the known and registered facts might have been distorted to some extent because one party was invisible and silent. The predominance of one point of view inevitably leads to the perversion of the history of queers of color.8 Consequently, one may suspect that the present-day data about the history are seriously incomplete.

Prejudice constitutes the second difficulty in writing the history of queers of color. The roots of the bias against the queer lie at the traditions of the past when the gender roles were rigid and unquestionable, and a set of certain features and actions was prescribed to males and females.9 I think any attempts to change the current state of affairs were seen as trying to establish control over the societal orders, suppressed, and concealed.

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Therefore, prejudice added up to the lack of correct information. Taken separately, the racial bias and bias against queer persons manifest themselves as pressing problems that have survived despite the vindication of the rights and activists’ great effort, and the combination of these prejudices is no less challenging. It is often believed that people of color become the victims of discrimination and suffer from both physical and mental harm.10

Since such individuals have two marked characteristics, it may give ground to consider them to be a kind of risk group nowadays, although the present-day society is more tolerant than it used to be, and the Western cultures, by and large, promote diversity and support. Even nowadays, the information about the queer is not always accessible and credible, and it is much more difficult to study the past because of the bias that was common in those periods.

Finally, the problem connected with theoretical frameworks and reliable sources is big. Since the 1970s, a large body of academic literature describing visibility, climate in educational institutes, work environment, etc., and identity studies has appeared.11

Although queers of color have also been addressed, the historical approach is not the leading one: the emphasis is often laid on psychological, social, and political issues of the present-day situation, and one and the same event or fact can be interpreted in contradictory ways. Consequently, a scholar who wants to write the history of queers of color should not only consult many recent books, articles, and web-sources, but also delve in older literature and assess the approaches and theories of the past in order to see the academic tendencies, as well as the references and descriptions of the actual events.

In conclusion, one should say that writing history is linked to some objective difficulties: it is necessary to find credible sources and extract the proper information from them. However, some issues, such as the history of queers of color, pose greater problems. When a scholar addresses this sphere, it is important to examine the phenomenon of invisibility, the prejudice of the past, and the specifics of the academic literature. Having considered all these obstacles, one will significantly improve the quality of their work and present the historical events impersonally and accurately.

Heterosexual and White Voices Domination

Although a researcher is to be non-biased by definition, the real practice demonstrates that a personality makes a substantial impact on studies.12 In order to evaluate some theory or article and get the insight of the contents objectively, one should refer not only to the author but also the groups to which they belong. It is especially important when a scholar belonging to a certain social group investigates issues concerning the categories that do not seem to be linked with their background.

However, some relation may be found in terms of African American and queer studies. The possible answer is that both race and gender characteristics are intertwined, and the queer of color theory becomes the contact point and the subject of interest in these cases. It is peculiar that the sphere of African American studies has been dominated by heterosexual voices, and the sphere of queer studies has been addressed by white voices, and there are the external and internal reasons for these phenomena.

Similar to other study areas, the African American studies may serve as the example of the predominance of heterosexual voices. It is probable to single out the biological and social ground. It is estimated that approximately 10% of the whole population are queer, although the approaches and figures tend to vary in different sources.13 As a result, it is only natural that a large number of scholars choose the African American studies as the sphere of their primary interest.

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However, there is another reason, the social one, that plays the more important role. As it has been mentioned, black people are studied from different perspectives, and the queer of color theory is quite popular. Judging by the fact that many research papers concentrate on queer black persons, it may be assumed that it reflects the subconscious guilt because of the past.14 It means that the modern people realize that the policies of the past were wrong and wish to make some compensation by means of studying the most urgent issues and addressing the problems that affect the present-day black population.

At the present stage of development, it has become clear that the political, economic, social, and cultural events of the previous decades account for the processes that the society has to face at the moment. Consequently, one wishes to improve the situation now.

As for the predominance of the white voices in the field of queer studies, the causes pertain to social peculiarities only. First of all, the current trends in education are not positive. According to the statistics, black students are drastically underrepresented in colleges and universities: while the enrollment rates have recently improved, the graduation indexes are still unsatisfactory; in 2013, approximately 40% of whites between the ages of 25 and 29 had reportedly a bachelor’s degree or more, compared to about 20% of blacks, 15% of Hispanics and 58% of Asians.15 Gender issues are involved: black males are in a disadvantageous position in comparison with other groups.16

As this external issue implies, black people who receive the corresponding education less frequently do not carry out research, and their white peers are prevalent. On the other hand, the influence of the internal issues is equally significant. The events of the past have demonstrated that it is necessary to try and build the society based on peace and tolerance. In the modern world, it is impossible to avoid contacts with persons of different races, ethnicities, genders, religious views, and so on.

Regardless of whether certain individuals want it or not, the process of globalization proves that the humanity moves to the solidarity. In my opinion, researchers understand it and address those groups that used to be discriminated in order to educate the general public, make the population aware of the true values, such as harmony, cooperation, and equality, and introduce the measures that may be effective to solve the problem of inequality and discrimination.

Overall, the modern research is notable for two tendencies: the predominance of heterosexual voices in the field of African American Studies and the prevalence of white voices in terms of queer studies. It is possible to state that there are inner and outer reasons for this phenomena. In the first case, it is the number of heterosexual people all over the globe and the guilt caused by the events of the past. In the second case, both reasons are social: the access to education and the need for peace and harmony. Thus, the white and heterosexual voices predominance is explained by the history and the present-day processes.

Bibliography

Anyon, Jean. Radical Possibilities: Public Policy, Urban Education, and a New Social Movement. New York: Routledge, 2014.

Beresford, Sarah. “The Age of Consent and the Ending of Queer Theory.” Laws 3, no. 4 (2014): 759-779.

Blackwood, Evelyn. The Many Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological Approaches to Homosexual Behavior. New York: Routledge, 2013.

Boyd, Nan A. “Who Is the Subject? Queer Theory Meets Oral History.” Elspeth Brown, Historian: Markets, Visual Culture, Gender, Sexuality. Web.

Carrol, Rachel. Rereading Heterosexuality: Feminism, Queer Theory and Contemporary Fiction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012.

DeLombard, Jeannine Marie. In the Shadow of the Gallows: Race, Crime, and American Civic Identity. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.

Hall, Donald E. “Gender and Queer Theory.” In The Routledge Companion to Critical and Cultural Theory 2013, edited by Paul Wake and Simon Malpas, 107-119. New York, Routledge, 2013.

Harper, Shaun R., and Charles H.F. Davis. “They (Don’t) Care About Education: A Counternarrative on Black Male Students’ Responses to Inequitable Schooling.” The Journal of Educational Foundations 26, no. 1/2 (2012): 103-120.

Lovaas, Karen. LGBT Studies and Queer Theory: New Conflicts, Collaborations, and Contested Terrain. Binghamton: Routledge, 2013.

McCune, Jeffrey. Sexual Discretion: Black Masculinity and the Politics of Passing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014.

Means, Darris R., and Audrey J. Jaeger. “Black in the Rainbow: “Quaring” the Black Gay Male Student Experience at Historically Black Universities.” Journal of African American Males in Education 4, no. 2 (2013): 124-141.

Mischel, Walter. Personality and Assessment. London: Psychology Press, 2013.

Renn, Kristen A. “LGBT and Queer Research in Higher Education the State and Status of the Field.” Educational Researcher 39, no. 2 (2011): 132-141.

Warner, Michael. “Queer and Then?The Chronicle of Higher Education. Web.

Weber, Cynthia. “Why is There no Queer International Theory?.” European Journal of International Relations 21, no. 1 (2015): 1-43.

Footnotes

  1. Darris R. Means and Audrey J. Jaeger, “Black in the Rainbow: “Quaring” the Black Gay Male Student Experience at Historically Black Universities,” Journal of African American Males in Education 4, no. 2 (2013): 124.
  2. Sarah Beresford, “The Age of Consent and the Ending of Queer Theory,” Laws 3, no. 4 (2014): 770.
  3. Donald E. Hall, “Gender and Queer Theory,” in The Routledge Companion to Critical and Cultural Theory 2013, ed. Paul Wake and Simon Malpas (New York, Routledge, 2013), 111.
  4. Cynthia Weber, “Why is There no Queer International Theory?,” European Journal of International Relations 21, no. 1 (2015): 23.
  5. Karen Lovaas, LGBT Studies and Queer Theory: New Conflicts, Collaborations, and Contested Terrain (Binghamton: Routledge, 2013), 116.
  6. Ibid., 118.
  7. Nan A. Boyd, “Who Is the Subject? Queer Theory Meets Oral History,” Elspeth Brown, Historian: Markets, Visual Culture, Gender, Sexuality. Web.
  8. Jeffrey McCune, Sexual Discretion: Black Masculinity and the Politics of Passing (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), 33.
  9. Rachel Carrol, Rereading Heterosexuality: Feminism, Queer Theory and Contemporary Fiction (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012), 72.
  10. Michael Warner, “Queer and Then?,” The Chronicle of Higher Education. Web.
  11. Kristen A. Renn, “LGBT and Queer Research in Higher Education the State and Status of the Field,” Educational Researcher 39, no. 2 (2011): 136.
  12. Walter Mischel, Personality and Assessment. London (Psychology Press, 2013), 41.
  13. Evelyn Blackwood, The Many Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological Approaches to Homosexual Behavior (New York: Routledge, 2013), 17.
  14. Jeannine Marie DeLombard, In the Shadow of the Gallows: Race, Crime, and American Civic Identity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), 106.
  15. Jean Anyon, Radical Possibilities: Public Policy, Urban Education, and a New Social Movement (New York: Routledge, 2014), 29.
  16. Shaun R Harper and Charles H.F. Davis, “They (Don’t) Care About Education: A Counternarrative on Black Male Students’ Responses to Inequitable Schooling,” The Journal of Educational Foundations 26, no. 1/2 (2012): 104.
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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Gender Studies: The Queer of Color Theory." April 9, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/gender-studies-the-queer-of-color-theory/.

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