In the United States, racial segregation was once justified to protect “whites,” now, with California State University as an example, racial segregation is justified to protect “blacks.” This is not to claim that there is something like “reverse racism” going on. On the contrary, what I want to highlight is the way ideological distortion functions to make the same situation – racial segregation – appear entirely different. Let us compare: first, whites have their own safe spaces (washrooms, classrooms, etc) from blacks to protect them from the invasion of decadence. The softening of the effect of this reality was to claim “separate but equal” status; second, today, blacks are said to have their own safe space to protect them from racism, build solidarity, etc.
If, in the first case, whites had the choice of segregation, then, in the second choice, blacks have the choice for segregation. So, what is the difference? The second choice is all the more racist and ruthless precisely because it shifts the choice onto the blacks for the segregation. Let us take the example that Zizek provides of the “modern” versus the “postmodern” father. The “modern” father orders the child to go to his grandmother. The result is that the child goes to his grandmother but retains an object of excuse, an object of hatred, an object of blame: the father. The way toward freedom is simply to overthrow or kill the father. But the “postmodern” father accepts the child’s choice to go to the grandmother. What is the consequence? If the child chooses to go to the grandmother then the same result is effected. But if the child chooses not to go then he has only to blame himself and live with the consequences: guilt. The “postmodern” father is therefore a much more effective and brutal authoritarian.
Is this not exactly what we see now playing out on the field of American racial politics? Here we have racial segregation in either case. If blacks do not freely choose to be segregated into their own “safe spaces” then they are nonetheless subjected to intensified racism. So, truthfully, segregation is here not a choice at all. If they choose to be segregated into safe spaces then the result is that they have participated in precisely the sort of racial segregation that American society has been built upon. The choice is therefore not one between segregation or integration – just as, in politics, the choice is not between revolution or reform. The problem runs much deeper than all of this: we must make a choice toward insurrection, that is, toward the uprooting of the racist ideology which exists deep within the unconscious of American civilization. The only way to do that, unfortunately, is to accept that it happened, that we are responsible for it, and that, finally, it won’t be easy to work through toward a solution.