The Very Real Effects of an Illusionary Circuit System: 
Using Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye to Contemplate Black Existence within White Supremacy  
Altered since publication. Last altered in August 2018 
Published in National Foreign Language Resource Center: Celebrating Voices-- Past, Present, Future, 2016, pp. 26–29.
          White supremacy resembles the inner workings of a clock. Its ideological structure is made up of pieces; each piece moves at a specific rhythm. The pieces depend on each other in order to maintain the life of the clock. Although all pieces are necessary for the clock to function properly, some pieces are seen as more important than other pieces. In the white supremacist paradigm, Black bodies are crucial in the maintenance of white supremacy. The more I think about it, the more I have come to realize (with the help of theorist and novelist discussed in this essay) that white supremacy needs Black bodies void of metaphysical existence because white supremacists intend to fill that void with a white-constructed idea of the Black existence (think Get Out). This constructed idea is meant to oppose the desired idea of white existence. That is, in a properly functioning anti-Black/ pro-white society, Black people need to be recognized as non-human, unknowledgeable, homely, etc., so that white folks can be seen as human, intelligent, beautiful, etc. However, these characteristics imposed on Black folks make up the constructed, mythologized idea of blackness-- the white imagined idea of Black folks. The literary works I discuss here theorize how Black consciousness seeks for recognition in the white supremacist system. They show that if white supremacists will only see Black people as non-beings, the ontology of the Black self becomes problematized. Therefore, I argue that this clash of ideas contributing to one being, or groups of beings, is what renders being Black, in this system, tiring. Or at least one of the ways I should say.
           I write this essay to make sense of my particular existence within anti-Blackness. I aim to discuss my self-consciousness, or the lack thereof, as a Black person in order to demonstrate how an authentic awareness of the self is complicated. The ontological explanation created by white supremacy was taught to me in school books written by white folks, demonstrated to me in my many white interactions, passed down to me though generation. Therefore, how I was told to view myself is deceptive. But it was the only view of myself for so long-- too long, thus, the importance of studying Black works, which are by and large ignored in mainstream academia. Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye figuratively exposes the white supremacist paradigmatic social structure in which Black people, women in particular, are made  aware of the white supremacist idea of themselves. However, the awareness that they have of their being is invalid-- not seen, shunned away-- in the white world. In Morrison’s text, Pecola becomes aware of her “twoness” as a young Black girl, in a Du Bois's sense of the word (Du Bois 38). Morrison demonstrates how these different views become deeply rooted in many Black experiences of living in a white world.
             For myself and many others, my “twoness” comes into my realization when I “meet the white man’s eyes [and] an unfamiliar weight burden[s] me” (Du Bois 38, Fanon 83). It is as if the infamous white gaze looks past me because for white folks "there is nothing to see" (Morrison 48). Pecola, as a young girl, experiences this realization of her “double self” in the presence of Mr. Yacobowski, a white immigrant (Du Bois 39). Morrison figuratively demonstrates the Hegelian “process of Recognition,” but shows how this process is truncated for Black folks existing in a white world (Hegel 111). According to Hegel:
178. Self-consciousness exists in and for itself when, and by the fact that, it so exists for another; that is, it exists only in being acknowledged….
 179. Self-consciousness is faced by another self-consciousness; it has come out of itself. This has a twofold significance: First, it has lost itself, for it finds itself as an other being; secondly, in doing so it has superseded the other, for it does not see the other as an essential being, but in the other sees its own self. (111)
Ideally, according to Hegel, for an person to “become certain of itself as the essential being,” that person must be able to recognize and be recognized; one has to “put themselves into the other” (111). However, in this white supremacist world, Black folks experiences a different process-- it's truncated. Look at the scene where Pecola meets Mr. Yacobowski: 
The gray head of Mr. Yacobowski looms up over the counter. He urges his eyes out of his thoughts to encounter her. Blue eyes. Blear-dropped. Slowly, like Indian summer moving imperceptibly toward fall, he looks toward her. Somewhere between retina and object, between vision and view, his eyes draw back, hesitate, and hover. At some fixed point in time and space he senses that he need not waste the effort of a glance. He does not see her... (Morrison 48)
Pecola, initially, isn’t quite sure what causes Mr. Yacobowski’s vision to “hesitate and hover” before her; she’s not quite sure why she is “nothing to see” for this white man (Morrison 48). She thinks maybe this lack of recognition is because she’s young girl and he’s an adult, “but she has seen interest, disgust, even anger in grown male eyes,” which suggests some sort of unwillingness to provide human recognition on Mr. Yacobowski's part (Morrison 49). Through a process of elimination and realization, Pecola is able to understand that this “fifty-two-year-old white immigrant store-keeper” could not possibly “see a little black girl” (Morrison 48, emphasis original). According to Fanon, when it comes time for Black people to “move towards the other” in order to “put themselves into the other,” white people “disappears” (84, Hegel 111). This has been my experience as a Black person surrounded by whiteness: I am unable to know who I am because white supremacists, posing as the “other,” will not recognize me as being worth experiencing in my authentic truth. White supremacists will not allow Black folks to supersede them, to experience them.
           It’s the “total absence of human recognition” (Morrison 49). Because of this lack of human recognition, Fanon asserts that there is “no ontological resistance in the eyes of the white man” (83). Fanon points to an interesting dynamic that plays into the idea of Black people as problems. In order for this white supremacist system to maintain a “normative order,” not only “must the black man be black,” which points to the actual being inside of the Black body, “his metaphysics,” but he also has to “be black in relation to the white man,” which points to the white supremacist creation of the Black idea, “woven… out of a thousand details, anecdotes, stories” that embodies an object rather than a being (Moten 178, Fanon 82-83). Pecola is not seen because the created idea her body holds makes her “blackness…distaste[ful]” in the white world (Morrison 49). However, it is not actually her being that’s repulsive, but it is this idea of her being, “her blackness,” that white supremacy has created for her that “accounts for, that creates, the vacuum edged with distaste in white eyes” (Morrison 49). This created definition is what Fanon asserts that Black individuals cannot “resistance” (83). Fred Moten, in his response piece to Fanon, “The Case of Blackness,” suggests that this “ontological resistance” becomes complicated for many Black people in the white world (Fanon 83). He asks how a person can create a new ontological explanation when this “being… neither [exist] for itself nor for the other” (Moten 179)?  That is, if Pecola rejects the ontological explanation that white supremacy has given her while still not receiving recognition, into whom, then, can she place her “ambiguous” self (Hegel 112)? This causes a reliance to the idea of blackness constructed by white supremacy.
         Morrison’s text shows the concreteness of the system in which Mr. Yacobowski's anti-Black logic is embedded. It’s the same system that obstructs Pecola when she is not aware of the position white supremacy has given her. Morrison demonstrates this system to be man-made with socially constructed identities with the use of the sidewalk that has a crack in the shape of a Y; This can be seen as foreshadowing, as Pecola walks on the concrete path to see Mr. Yacobowski (Morrison 48, emphasis mine). Being a white man, although an immigrant, he sees himself as privileged over Pecola. His self-consciousness as a white man is embedded in the system, and Pecola as a young Black girl must learn early how to walk within the system because, if she isn’t careful or watchful, “her sloughing step [will make] her trip over that” crack (Morrison 47). On one hand, the text suggests that only white supremacists are a part of the concrete workings of the system; they are the only ones recognized as significant. On the other hand, the text suggests that Mr. Yacobowski is a “crack” in the system, which suggests that his self-consciousness is just as inauthentic as white imagined the black self-consciousness it creates (Morrison 47). 
         Pecola, with an innate, individualistic understanding, sees “dandelions” as “pretty” flowers (Morrison 47). However, “grown-ups…call them weeds” (Morrison 47). This shows the construct of ideology, and how we can potentially internalize the white supremacist black idea as valid. The internalization of these unnatural ideas begins at childhood. The maintenance of this system requires the installation of these false ideas at a young age, so that acceptance of the constructed, man-made system appears natural, “fixed” (Fanon 82). It makes it so that this internalization becomes stronger through experience, as the older adults have accepted and proclaimed matter-of-factly that these beautiful flowers are weeds. With this internalization, white supremacy can keep a “nice…yard… like Miss Dunion… Not a dandelion anywhere” (Morrison 47). At least, this is the ideal. However, the fallacious idea of Black people is needed, so rather than discarding the weeds once they are pulled. They use them for consumption. “But they do not want the yellow heads;” they don’t want the actual essence of Blacks; “only the jagged leaves,” they only need their body to perpetuate this system. The roles destined for Black people are not true to their individuality for their individual selves don’t have a chance to be recognized. After the interaction with Mr. Yacobowski, Pecola agrees with the adults and accepts that these once “pretty” flowers are “are ugly. They are weeds” (Morrison 50, emphasis original).  It is as if “the master had said, ‘You are ugly people…’ [and] ‘Yes,’ they had said. ‘You are right’ ” (Morrison 39).
          In the anti-Black, white supremacist system, it's difficult for me to find acceptance as an actual being. Du Bois speaks of a much needed reconciliation, a “merge[ing of] his double self into a better and truer self” (Du Bois 39). Wanting to reconcile Black blood with American experience when there seems to be no desire for Black blood in the white world seems like wishful thinking to me. But even this non-acceptance of a much-needed being produces a paradox. Using the Hegelian process of recognition, in order for white folks to obtain self-consciousness, they must put themselves into the other—Black people. However, white individuals place themselves into a constructed idea, the idea of blackness, then the “return into... self,” the second supersession, is based off of a fallacious idea; therefore, white self-consciousness is just as fallacious and constructed (Hegel 111).. The very real effects of the white supremacist system function by way of an illusionary circuit. The realization of this paradox is what make this experience exhausting.

Works Cited
Du Bois, W.E.B. "Of Our Spiritual Striving." The Souls of Black Folk. New York: Dodd, 1961.  37–44. Print.
Fanon, Frantz. "The Fact of Blackness." Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove, 1967. 82–108. Print.
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. "Lordship and Bondsman." Phenomenology of Spirit. Oxford: Clarendon, 1977. 111–119.  Print.
Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Plume, 1994. Print.
Moten, Fred. "The Case of Blackness." Criticism 50.2 (2008): 177–218. Web.

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