Today We Learn About: Resistance

Hine Article

Kelley Article

Resistance cannot always be measured, as it is not always documented. In addition, an individual’s personal resistance can take many forms and easily runs the risk of being misinterpreted as weakness or a race-wide flaw by those with little insight into the individual in question. Hine suggests that African-American women have fought against sexual categorization and harassment by defining themselves in public as open and welcoming of disclosure. In doing so, these women are actually shielding their true and personal selves from their oppressors. Kelley explains that the actions of African-Americans in the 1940’s serve to illustrate “infrapolitics,” or actions of resistance that are, by design, invisible. With Black women and the black community as a whole both reacting to widespread and institutionalized racism in their own personal and private methods, larger more organized resistance groups have the stage set for their own insurrections.

When Hine refers to dissemblance, she refers to “the behavior and attitudes of Black women that created the appearance of openness and disclosure but actually shielded the truth of their inner lives and selves from their oppressors” (Hine 912). In undertaking this attitude, women created for themselves and their families a new definition of privacy and personal space, one that could not be violated by their oppressors, because their oppressors did not know that it existed. This form of resistance is often seen amongst individuals who experience frequent traumas, such as individuals who black out and cannot remember repeated incidents of molestation, for example. The difference in the case Hine speaks of, however, is the quasi-conscious decision to hide behind this veil of openness. The veil is referred to as quasi-conscious because those who partake in this dissemblance have often had the practice instilled upon them since a young age, to the point where the women in question may not necessarily be aware that they are creating such an appearance.

When Kelley speaks of a “hidden transcript,” she speaks of “a dissident political culture that manifests itself in daily conversations, folklore, jokes, songs, and other cultural practices” (Kelley 77). That is to say, an activist culture is present in the everyday actions of the oppressed which takes shape in the form of private and personal attacks on the system of oppression. These attacks are not often viewed as political in nature, but certainly are in most cases. Specific attacks could manifest as stealing tools or time from the workplace, or arguing with a bus driver. “Hidden transcripts” are characterized as such because they are often undocumented.

Even if thoughts and ideas are obscured and misrepresented, they can still be located and written about by researchers because they exist in the larger consciousness of the individuals in question. The attitudes and actions written about in these two articles have always been present, ever since scholars began writing about these forms of resistance. It has taken a unique and clever approach to research in order to devise an appropriate method of selecting and interpreting data. Only through the close examination of widely believed stereotypes, such as the openness of black women and laziness of black industrial workers, have we arrived at the conclusions of Hines and Kelley.


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