“Parodies of whiteness”: discursive frames of recognition in Percival Everett’s i am not Sidney Poitier
Demirtürk, E. L.
Journal of Literature and Art Studies
David Publishing Co., Inc.
83 - 95
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The paper discusses how the white supremacist norms of recognition are essential to the constitution of black vulnerability as a precondition of the white human in Percival Everett’s I Am Not Sidney Poitier. Everett’s novel depicts the extent to which popular culture plays a constitutive role in the cultural governance of black bodies, as he dismantles white hegemonic discursive processes that coerce the black body into performing whiteness. Since racialized body is a script of whiteness, it is important to note that the racial script exposes the discursive exchanges in interracial encounters. The issue of how the whites reproduce the power of whiteness in the process of “scripting” blacks is represented through Everett’s satirical discourse on the everyday white discursive practices: “Parodies of whiteness” demonstrate how the black male protagonist Not Sidney undoes the white power at the moment of the constitution of the disjunctive black self, when Sidney Poitier’s image works against the particularity of Not Sidney’s identity. Whites’ urge to “see” and “recognize” the white-commodified racial paradigm (of Poitier) in Not Sidney who fails to become one, highlights the white mechanisms of power that produce blackness except as a mere “parody of whiteness”. It is in this contradictory space that Everett enables us to confront the issue of whiteness (and of race in general) as mere parody, because everyday performances of blackness (under white policing and surveillance) are as much a parody of blackness as that of whiteness.