September 2018

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Khristie—Still the Dangerous Liaison

Khristie’s sustenance of racism hurts not only themselves and the Tiffanys of the world, but also rolls the clock back and provides an incubator for white supremacy that stunts the growth of all communities—more specifically communities of color, the same supportive communities that will “stick with her” through thick and thin.

by Dr. Robin L. Hughes

In the last week or so, I watched The Sixth Sense, The Usual Suspects, Get Out! and The Bad Seed. I purposely watched these movies because the thing, or “it,” who appears in them is not a Michael-Meyers-mask wearing, pointy-scissor-fingered donning, Cheetos-colored-haired rocking “monster.” These movies, instead, present ordinary, palatable people. They are what society considers to be, or “accepts” as, normal.

I interpreted the premise of the movies’ normalizing pathology through a critical lens juxtaposed on issues of race and racism. Employing Critical Race Theory (CRT) allows us to interpret the pathological and monstrous influence that racism has on some individuals in the films. Through that lens, I explore identity confusion. More specifically, I examine the sociopathological dependency some individuals have to center their lives on and fight for the “spoils” of whiteness.

These movies led me to revisit “Dangerous Liaisons: Christie, Colored Friend of Tiffany,” a piece written almost ten years ago. In that article, Mark Giles and I suggested that living in a racist context, coupled with an individual’s need for the mental property value of whiteness, creates Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-like monsters like Khristie. She is the racially-identity-confused, dangerous liaison to Tiffany. Tiffany is the creation of Audrey Thompson, and composites the power of whiteness as property and all things supreme that go along with that whiteness. Khristie, who has since changed the spelling of her name to keep up with the times and to throw off poor Tiffany, continues to live and thrive by manipulating unsuspecting and fragile white people.

To be clear, Khristie, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, swallowed the medicinal concoction of whiteness in order to become, well, Khristie. How Khristie thinks and operates has everything to do with how they have been impacted and influenced by the pathological and addictive elixir of white supremacy and racism. Khristie trusts that the benefits from racism are far greater, and more beneficial, than resistance to racism. You see, the rewards from the seduction of white supremacy are easy, fast, dirty, and cheap.

Khristie’s Jekyll and Hyde affect stems from racial battle fatigue (RBF)—the one that we don’t like to talk about. Will Smith’s prolific work speaks to those people of color who are so overwhelmed by the sickness of racism that their reaction to, or stress from, microaggressions may cause internal and external responses to the pathology of racism. Smith explains that those everyday interactions with vitriol and hatred decrease the ability of POC to thrive in a racially pathological, and hence often reprehensible, daily space. However, Khristie doesn’t suffer from sweaty palms, heart palpitations, and certainly no signs of stress. Their internal and external responses to racism lay at the other end of the RBF spectrum, the one where Khristie and squad yearn for white male affirmation and white supremacy as norms for their own healthy living (in a pathological, self-inflicted, racially traumatizing sort of way).

How Khristie thinks and operates has everything to do with how they have been impacted and influenced by the pathological and addictive elixir of white supremacy and racism.

Khristie embraces the property rights of racism—manipulating it for their own upward mobility and “sanity” (insanity to most). Khristie thrives in and is seduced by the spoils of racist chaos. Like the people who fall into Get Out’s sunken place, and are later lobotomized, Khristie willfully sinks into a world where the benefits of white supremacy serve as a pathological “fix.” Khristie’s admiration for whiteness resembles a hopeless Stockholm Syndrome where the love from the captor fulfills the need for white acceptance. In that world, Khristie is wooed by rewards or crumbs from the massa’s table. Khristie thrives on two-bit, make-shift job titles and a mention of their name for acquired accolades during public events (champion POC! They are that POC!). Khristie jumps at the chance for a public, white affirming pat on the back, in front of a crowd (of white people), or a chance to “be the first or the only one” in some fill-in-the-blank position. Khristie’s need to be the only “one” is central to identity confusion and white affirmation.

token
Tokenization protects and affirms white supremacy. Artwork courtesy of Citizen Ed.

Khristie’s sustenance of racism hurts not only themselves and the Tiffanys of the world, but also rolls the clock back and provides an incubator for white supremacy that stunts the growth of all communities—more specifically communities of color, the same supportive communities that will “stick with her” through thick and thin.

Khristie is allowed to wreak havoc with no redress, and while dear Tiffany has grown somewhat in her own cultural competence, as minimal as it might be or seem, she will not go far in her co-dependent relationship. Khristie, the neo-Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, lives and thrives to keep Tiffany close by—benefiting from Tiffany’s ignorance and sinking into her own confusion.

Because Tiffany is so fragile, she will always surround herself within the safe confines of Khristie, and her new backup crew, Thessa and Monet. They come camouflaged with heartwarming blankets to protect the whiteness by which they, too, have been seduced. Khristie and squad work hard to protect poor little Tiffany from any anti-racist dialogue. More importantly, they vicariously provide her with the best bragging rights for the neo-racist. You know the one, “some of my best friends are…”

Khristie’s sustenance of racism hurts not only themselves and the Tiffanys of the world, but also rolls the clock back and provides an incubator for white supremacy that stunts the growth of all communities—more specifically communities of color, the same supportive communities that will “stick with her” through thick and thin.

Much like Red Riding Hood’s grandmother, who was swallowed by the big bad wolf, poor little Tif is unable to recognize or confront the racism-thriving, cultural-deficit-loving Dr. Jekyll who dons a big beautiful tap-dancing smile. So how does this movie end? What’s the anti-venom, the anti-supremist serum to this neo-Dr. Jekyll and Hyde?

Well, it’s simple—or so one might think. Recognize the normalized monsters who walk amongst us. Ultimately, Tiffany is the composite of white supremacy and the driving source of racist pathology. However, she does little to move beyond what she considers a safe group that protects her from any discussion that might perturb her context. She is stuck in a space that remains supremely white and preserves white fragility. Tiffany is surrounded by safe and comfortable “racism and white supremacy.” Like Typhoid Mary, she is isolated and sequestered from her own racist pathological affliction. And then there is Khristie, who benefits from the illness and the chaos. Khristie is always there, the beloved, time honored and white supremacist-created POC composite.

But just who is Khristie? They represent the politician who works with and protects racist leadership, the talking head who defends white supremacy on major news outlets, the “Lone” POC who defends social injustice, the sad soul who legitimizes violence against “bad” POC, the right-hand person who makes the appearance during the media minstrel shows, and the sad and pathetic employee who just wants to get ahead by selling their soul and the lives of other people for a small two-bit, side-piece employment bump. Ultimately, Khristie works hard to assure that white supremacy is sustained and is comfortable and feels safe.

And Tif, well she has done so much more. In her silence and in ignorance, she actively helps to lay the racist and pathological groundwork throughout the world. Her insidious work, coupled with power, privilege, supremacy, and lots of ignorance, serves as provocateur and creator of her very own pathological and dangerous liaison: Khristie—the neo-Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

hughes-robin-mug-college-professor (1)Robin L. Hughes, Ph.D. is a Professor Urban Education in the IUPUI School of Education, Indianapolis. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies in Bloomington. Her research focuses on sports where she explore the development of Black students who are athletes participating in revenue generating sports. In addition, she focuses on issues of race, and how racism specifically, impacts faculty, students, and institutions. Dr. Hughes is also co-editor and co-founder of the Journal for the Study of Sports and Athletes in Education (JSSAE), Taylor Francis, Routledge Press

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