"Race, gender, and sexuality converge on this issue of evaluating beauty. Black men’s blackness penalizes them. But because they are not women, valuations of their self-worth do not depend as heavily on their physical attractiveness. In contrast, part of the objectification of all women lies in evaluating how they look. Within binary thinking, White and Black women as collectivities represent two opposing poles, with Latinas, Asian-American women, and Native American women jockeying for positions in between. Judging White women by their physical appearance and attractiveness to men objectifies them. But their White skin and straight hair simultaneously privilege them in a system that elevates whiteness over blackness. In contrast, African-American women experience the pain of never being able to live up to prevailing standards of beauty — standards used by White men, White women, Black men, and, most painfully, one another. Regardless of any individual woman’s subjective reality, this is the system of ideas that she encounters. Because controlling images are hegemonic and taken for granted, they become virtually impossible to escape."
"No matter how restrictive the prison, some prisoners find ways to resist. Often within plain sight of their guards, people who are imprisoned devise ingenious ways to reject prison policies. Nelson Mandela recounts the numerous ways that he and his fellow prisoners outwitted, undermined, tricked, and, upon occasion, confronted their captors during the twenty-seven years that he spent as a political prisoner in South African prisons. Craving news of the political struggle outside, prisoners communicated by writing in milk on blank paper, letting it dry to invisibility and, once the note was passed on, making the words reappear with the disinfectant used to clean their cells. They smuggled messages to one another in plastic wrapped packages hidden in food drums. In the case of solitary confinement where an inmate could be locked up for twenty-three hours a day in a dark cell, just surviving constituted an act of resistance. As Mandela observes, ‘Prison is designed to break one’s spirit and destroy one’s resolve. To do this, the authorities attempt to exploit every weakness, demolish every initiative, negate all signs of individuality—all with the idea of stamping out that spark that makes each of us human and each of us who we are.’ Mandela and his fellow prisoners recognized the function of actual prisons under racial apartheid and of apartheid policies as an extension of prison."
Patricia Hill Collins
Love this quote, an excerpt from Black Sexual Politics. RESISTANCE.
Notice that she mentions the parallel between the policies that put Nelson Mandela in prison and the policies themselves being an extension of prison. They are intrinsically connected. There is no absolute delineation between “prison” and then “free society” when Black people cannot experience freedom from racism. Slavery and Jim Crow (and its Northern and Western de facto segregation companions) here, colonialism and apartheid there. Political prisoners here. Political prisoners there. Prison Industrial Complex here, unjust imprisonment as a tool of the State there. Racism here. Racism there. White supremacy here. White supremacy there.
Though I recognize the complex, unique and specific issues particular to South Africa and Nelson Mandela’s life and experiences, I see the role of White supremacy globally and the shared burden that Black people experience, even with nuanced and differing privileges and oppressions for other facets of identity. Like he said “We are not anti-White. We are against White supremacy.”