Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The constant fear that oppressors hold of losing their power is ungrounded when learning about the similarities, not differences, between people of opposite races. As my favorite author Jonathan Safran Foer puts it, "Humans are the only animal that blushes, laughs, has religion, wages war, and kisses with lips. So in a way, the more you kiss with lips, the more human you are." All in all, I think we should focus on becoming more human and embracing these similarities rather than segregating ourselves by race. I think being at Rhodes allows us a privilege, regardless of race, to use our education to win arguments about these things. The best way to change something is to refuse to be silenced about the topic, while at the same time, ignoring it only allows it to grow.
Unfortunately the class has wound down and most people will not read this, but I figured I would put it out there just in case anyone wanted to read it and/or ponder the multitude of issues it brings about. This article is from the Huffington Post and which serves like a blog outlet for scholars and theorists alike. In the article Eleanor Hinton Hoytt responds to a predominately white and male Georgia Republican Party and Georgia Right to Life Group that used race as a way to trick people into not supporting health care reform and/or right to choice with abortion.
What the group did is they labeled abortion as "black genocide" citing that black women have the highest percentage of abortions in the United States. Hinton Hoytt responds by critiquing this spin of the facts by pointing out that many factors go into these high rates such as lack of access to contraceptives and/or education because of a system that continues to oppress blacks. What shes points out is that despite the Georgia group trying to put on the guise that they are helping blacks, their policy will actually continue to hurt blacks by denying health care to people who need it the most, including the highest percentage of uninsured individuals in America, which is black women.
If you read through the comments to this article you may find yourself really angry. There are some pretty ignorant people who blame this situation on black women, but we all know that it is structural and institutional forces that have continued this oppression.
Basically I am making this post just to show some more info on the subject, I wish we had time to discuss this though because I see potential for a wide range of analysis.
When I think about this semester, I know that we have learned and experienced a lot, but what's crazy is that through this experience I have been exposed to more, and I realized that we have only skimmed the surface despite the extensive progress we have made. This speaks to the complexity of this issue. It's exciting to make a little headway, but its is also daunting to know what still lies ahead for us in terms of changing this whole thing (assuming that we can). I guess the best thing I can say is that I hope we all can remain optimistic and hopefully that we can continue to correct this error in the conception of race. We can see all the different areas of life that have been affected by this error, and we can work to make changes to each of these areas, and eventually hopefully rid our world of the negative aspects of this error.
Anyway, keep of trucking. To you graduating folk: good luck with your future endeavors. To you non-graduating folk: see you around, hope finals are going well. To all: hopefully 2012 doesn't bring a zombie apocalypse, but if it does, hopefully we can transcend race and hatred (at least towards living humans) during that time.
Since the announcement of Osama's death, I have been interested in the how this will play out racially in the United States. Will there be a heightened sense of fear and racism amongst Arabs and the article I just posted just shows that everything that we have talked about in this class needs to be discussed on a larger level. Our society needs to be educated about race and racism. I am astonished by this article and its continuation of the black and white divide. Osama's death is not a win for black america. When will our society learn. And how can we progress when everything goes back to something that is not really real, race? Just a thought.
I want to challenge everyone in the class to not just take everything that we have read, discussed, and blogged about since January and forget it. I challenge everyone to take a stand and make a promise to continue to fight the little racist that has been planted inside of us because of society, experience, or what ever the reason may be. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Now that I will be graduating, I think this class was the most appropriate class to take before I left Rhodes because it actually allowed me to participate in a rigorous thought process about myself and others. I wish everyone success in their future endeavors. Be Blessed.
I think my favorite essay was part one of Charles Mills' book. I enjoyed his explanation of white vs. black philosophies. The thing I will never forget is the part where he explains that those who are less oppressed have the freedom to question their existence while those who are oppressed feel the weight of their existence every day. I always thought that questioning one's existence was a hard thing to do, but I now realize that it is a luxury to disconnect yourself from this world.
I hope that I can share the things I learned in this class with other people. I am still confused on some things, and I hope to clarify my questions in my years at Rhodes. I hope that I will be strong enough to personally combat racism.
I was really intimidated the first couple of weeks in the class, but everyone was really nice and I learned a lot from the other people in the class. I have never taken a class like this one, but I really enjoyed the honest atmosphere.
I wish everyone the best in whatever they choose to do. Thanks for a good class.
Still, many African Americans remain in poverty, a situation very difficult to overcome no matter how hard one works. Instead of sympathy, these people often elicit negative racial stereotypes—welfare checks, laziness, and poor education. These traits do not characterize a race; they are signs of poverty and hopelessness. Though free in theory, these people are materially oppressed and are forced to work lousy jobs for low pay because these are the only openings available to them. As soon as I figure out how to upload it, I will post the documentary Ryley Erhardt and I shot. In it we interview a variety of characters, from street people, to restaurant personnel, to public safety officers. Talking to them made me realize that race still plays a large role in Memphis. I was also amazed to see how different people’s lives can be. In our documentary, a lawyer says that there is a difference between the real homeless and people who just panhandle. There may be some cases in which a panhandler could be doing something more productive with his life, but it is my opinion that if he knew an honest way to make a substantially greater amount of money, he would do it. For many of these people, they do not have the option to help themselves.
Its been a really great semester and I have learned a ton. Thanks everyone, and have a great summer and life!
First of all, I would like to thank everyone for contributing to such an open and ongoing discussion about race. Race is not an easy topic to discuss; although race is not biologically “real,” people still seem view both themselves and others as “raced.” The existing friction between these two mindsets can easily become the white elephant in the room. However, there was no white elephant in our classroom this semester. Rather, we tackled such difficult questions by sharing our personal beliefs and opinions. Even when disagreements arose, I never felt as though I, or someone else, was being personally attacked. As Kimberly noted, our ability to incorporate a sense of humor in our discussion was most inspiring. It was this sense of humor that made me look forward to class each day.
Furthermore, and perhaps not surprisingly, this course was one of the most diverse classes that I have been a part of at Rhodes, in regards to both race and opinion. Although Rhodes prides itself on being an open-minded campus, it is difficult to provoke friendly debate when people are, more often than not, same-minded. Again, I’m grateful that we embraced, rather than ignored, such differences. This course will impact my perceptions and interactions with others well after graduation in a positive way, so, thank you!
Anyway, I was thinking about what I learned and the most important thing to take away from this class were and I considered my stance of elimitivism (again). I don't see elminativism and conservatism as so diametric anymore. For the most part, I think conservationists agree with eliminativists on the fact that race does not exist scientifically, but what that entails is where they differ. One argues that the concept of race is still useful, and the other argues that since it has no basis in science, we should throw out the whole idea. Obviously these two ideological camps have implications for political change, but I think they agree on the most important problem facing the US. They both agree that it should be taught in schools that there is no scientific basis for race. This to me it the idea that has the most potential to change the racial situation in America.
If we begin to teach children at an early age that there is no scientific basis for race (obviously in terms best suited for young minds), then their prejudices they develop over their adolescence can be minimized and hopefully even eliminated. Certainly, there will be those who are indoctrinated by their surroundings to believe that race exists and therefore racism is okay, but at least those individuals will have the ability to choose between the two ideologies. I believe there exists in every human a compassion for other humans, and if this it true the net gain for educating our children on race will be a positive one.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this class, especially our class discussions. It was really eye opening to hear how differently we all think about race. While we might be quick to say that Rhodes is its own bubble etc. we still have different opinions and feelings about topics like race; we can’t all be grouped together as Rhodes students for any other reason than we go to the college. This relates back to the point that we reiterated throughout class that there is not a characteristic of a race that applies to every member of that race. Assuming that all Rhodes students feel the same about something is like assuming that all members of a race feel same, which we know is not true. Race is something that we don’t get the opportunity to talk about outside of close company and such so being able to hear perspectives from students we wouldn’t usually interact with.
At the beginning of this course I thought races were real things, but as the semester went on, I found myself straying more and more from that belief. I totally identify with Appiah in his assertion that nothing can do for us everything we ask the term race to do. Since race has been a force in our lives since we can remember we take it for granted that it is a real thing. My time in this course, however, showed me that race is something people have created and we don’t have to continue employing it. There is no “us” and “they” but rather we are all people together. We have our various similarities and differences but they are not the result of our supposed race. I don’t identify nor agree with every white person I meet; why wouldn’t it be the same for individuals from other races?
At this point I believe not only that race is not an objectively real thing, but we must eliminate it so as to save ourselves from the faults caused by that concept. I believe now the problem is not so much one of non-white disadvantage, but of white privilege. Whiteness has become the norm of society and anything else is a deviation. It is not enough to simply do away with race; instead we must restructure society so that race is no longer an essential component. While non-whites have struggled and put true effort into erasing racial injustice, whites have remained passive, denying racism yet not working towards its elimination. Its time for whites to become active in the effort to overcome racism so that we can all unite as humans to protect each other’s interests, thereby protecting our own.
I also appreciate the fact that, as a class, we could discuss race with altercations considering that race is a very touchy subject for all in some aspect. It shows the level of maturity that the class has provided in shaping our ideas about race. Although one race may not relate or agree with another, that does not mean that there is no level of understanding. And that is what I think I have gained more from this class, is not necessarily sympathy, but a deeper level of understanding for different races and the skills needed to approach different race in real life experiences.
The past semester with you all has been an interesting one. I enjoyed hearing your separate perspectives on the issues that we've encountered in class. The discussions were never dull. I found myself considering race from a variety of angles when it previously had never occurred to me to do so.
To elaborate on my response to Mae's post, I feel that students do take courses like this one that focus on social issues simply to talk about these issues. That was what I expected prior to taking this course. I did not expect that I would feel motivated past speaking on such issues, into doing something about them. I had previously never considered race past the idea of its being a social construct, as a construct that could be deconstructed. I still have a certain amount of skepticism as to the complete elimination of race. However, it does seem more possible somehow after taking this course and gaining a broader understanding of the topic as a whole. I believe that it was of much value to me to have taken this course because I have become more aware of the various facets of the racial issues that are embedded within our society. Some of the examples that were presented in class as white privilege never arose in my mind as injustices that should be combated. It is interesting how race has evolved and I appreciated being able to touch on such topics in class.
Overall I believe that I have been properly equipped to think about race critically and I was pleased with the results of this course. I am glad that I gained more out of this course than just an overview of the history of racial issues in America. I truly enjoyed the fact that we were able to think deeply about different concepts in class and to work together to develop solutions to problems in our society. It is commendable that no one felt the need to accept defeat when considering the nature and immensity of the problem at hand. I appreciated that there was always a willingness to come up with solutions and to share ideas. It was very refreshing. But thank you all for your contributions to this experience. I can honestly say that I was not disappointed.