Sunday, March 27, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
I’m not really sure who’s supposed to be blogging this week, so I thought I’d just go ahead and write one. Hopefully Rhodes wireless will work long enough for me to post this…
I’d like to focus on Mill’s assertion that what America, and indeed the rest of the world, really needs is a conception of race as “both real and unreal”(xiv). Considered in the midst of the conservationist/eliminativist debate, Mills call for a compromise of sorts is certainly a breath of fresh air. I myself have been vacillating between the two camps regularly over the past month or so, and I like to think that this isn’t because I’m indecisive or impressionable (probably true anyway), but rather because both sides have legitimately good points. There is no need to enumerate them – this is essentially what we’ve been doing since we read Du Bois – but suffice it to say that Mills’ compromise seems to me to encapsulate the best of both sides. It provides us with a conceptual vehicle through which we can frame the extensive social, political, and economic problems that still exist around race in America. If we are going to fully address problems such as the increased high school drop-out rate of minority children while still working to eliminate the basis for racism in our society we must be able to treat race in the dualistic way that Mills suggests.
On a related note, as important as it is for philosophers of race, anthropologists, sociologists, etc. to adopt this dualistic conception, it is even more vital that the average American see race in this way too. Thus, it seems absolutely necessary for us to begin honest and serious education on the subject of race in our schools. We need to present this conception of race to our children as early as possible, and hopefully before other social forces can give them a skewed notion of race. As a social construction, race is what society defines it to be. If we can form a critical mass of Americans who approach race squarely as Mills does, it seems unlikely that we will not be able to effect serious positive change.
What do you guys think about this? I’m especially interested to learn what you think about incorporating race into American public education. For instance, it seems to me that we should incorporate race into education as early as kindergarten, but I could see how one might argue that this is too early.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
The manner in which Fanon describes issues of maintaining an individual’s right to “freedom” reminded me of Hegel’s views of individuals as “freedoms”. Hegel’s view of freedom was fairly different from Fanon’s idea of it, however because Hegel believed that we should not enslave others, but if we were to stop, then we must stop gradually because African Americans are a very child-like freedom. It would be too hard on them if we were to abruptly gift them with the full extent of the freedom possessed by Europeans because this sudden onslaught would overwhelm them. This is far removed from Fanon’s view of freedom because he believed that every person exists as a freedom until someone else interrupts the course of that free existence. Hegel seemed to hold that certain groups were significantly more free than others. He also asserted that the struggle for individuals to prove that they are free does not end until they’re able to have the other freedoms recognize their freedom. This means that the state of your freedom is contingent on the views of those around you as in Fanon’s idea of freedom where the freedom of blacks is constantly interrupted by the views of the dominant racial class.
Race and racism are social constructs that are contingent on the support of society. They require collective agreement, acceptance and imposition to thrive and remain a threat to the "freedom" of the inferior racial classes. These human inventions have the ability to break down the healthy self-image of an individual and can manage to turn an individual who previously existed as a freedom into an object to be studied and prodded for faults. Racism is engrained in the minds of people, as well as in the structure of society and racial essentialism has the power to perpetuate it whether or not the application of the essential characteristics was meant to uplift the race or not.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Sunday, March 6, 2011
I found this article rather interesting for the obvious reasons. While whites have the right to speak out for their own communities, I want to know what "interests" they are fighting for, considering the fact that despite the economic situation of the united states, whites are still the privileged group. I also want to point out that while reading, at first I thought that the article was covering the white race as a whole, only to now be led to think that this is simply the voice of the white male, trying to speak for his community as a whole. The article says,
Those white interests have been compromised by what he sees as the "preferential treatment" blacks have received in the job market to compensate for slavery, Edwards says.
I truly believe that they are simply in panic about the recession because it may be possible that they don't get to enjoy the luxuries that they once could before the recession began to greatly impact U.S. Citizens and now races who were once in a hole even before the recession are being complained about for being in the situation that they are in. There is no preferential treatment for the black race. When one looks at the situation, white males are still the privileged group. The job market has not been a major problem for white men until the recession and now it's all of a sudden a problem when it directly affects them. What about when blacks are being discriminated against for the same problem issue. It simply a race coming into terms with the reality of America, "We went from being a privileged group to all of a sudden becoming whites, the new victims," says Charles Gallagher. (I find it interesting in that last quote though that he differentiates between white and the privileged group)
What I would also like to know is what would white studies, white history entail? Would it teach the group about how they have oppressed, suppressed, taken, and claimed their own, basically bullied other ethnic groups in order to become the superior race that they are? Or would it reveal the sugar coated side of Latin American, African American/American, Asian history? That it was done for economic and expansion purposes for the betterment of the Americas, in other words, the own self interest of the privileged race. If anything, every other race is disconnected from the white race is almost every aspect of the American culture. Nothing about the white race makes them a minority. I could never consider white males a minority.
The article says, "You have this perception out there that whites are no longer in control or the majority. Whites are the new minority group." Whites are beginning to identity with the minority groups because they don't share privileges like they used to when they were the majority, and now that that status is threatened due to the recession, that is a problem. But they are still white, and still more privileged because of that fact. White statements such as:
"Like it or not, the country is going to look more like it should -- more brown folks, more yellow folks, more gay folks, more mixed folks," he says.
"This racial unease is more pronounced among older white Americans, who grew up in an era where America's icons were virtually all white, Wise says."
"The idea that we're losing our country is something that's not going to have a lot of resonance for someone under 30," Wise says. "These are white folks who don't remember the country that their parents are talking about."
"With white no longer the norm, more white Americans are hitting the books to ask a question that few felt a need to ask before: What does it mean to be white?"
I am only led to believe that white men feel the way that they do because of the position that the recession has put them in and how different groups are beginning recognize their potential. I wouldn't even call the group that feels oppressed our current generation but the past generations who are used to being the sole supremacist, like the quote above mentions. And now they feel threatened because America is slowly beginning to embrace other cultures, rather than identifying the norm. White is still what it is, white, but there are others in the world besides them.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Friday, March 4, 2011
I find it interesting that our two most recent authors, Fanon and Senghor, have had entirely opposite opinions of racial essentialism. To recap, Senghor’s idea of “Negritude” posits an essence for blacks which is intuitive, sensual, and creative. In other words, he argues that blacks have a unique essence, with out which the “civilization of the Universal” would be incomplete. (This is reminiscent of Du Bois’ belief that Blacks have a particular value to add to world history). This essence, according to Senghor, is opposite from the white essence, which is based in reason and objectivity.
Fanon, on the other hand, sees racial essentialism to be the direct cause of the objectification and alienation that he addresses in Black Skin, White Masks. The judgments that are made about a black person because of her race force her to step outside of herself and consider herself as an object in an attempt to discover the reason for these judgments. Of course, it is not surprising that Fanon thinks this way, considering that he is an existentialist. He believes that human existence precedes our essence and that we are, thus, free to create our essence. Hence, racism is such an insult to humanity because it directly restricts the freedom of enormous numbers of people by assigning them an essence that they have no control over.
Both authors believed genuinely that their work was invaluable to the advancement of blacks around the world and to the destruction of racism. It cannot be the case, however, that both Senghor and Fanon are correct; so who do we think is right? Which method is the most conducive to eliminating racism?
In my opinion, racial essentialism, no matter what the intentions are behind it, cannot do anything but perpetuate racism. It gives strength to stereotyping by maintaining that people have innate, racially bound characteristics. For each of the “positive” essences that Senghor ascribes to blacks and whites there is a corollary negative. If we admit the positive then we must admit the negative. Therefore, Fanon’s existentialism seems both more objectively correct than Senghor’s Negritude and far more beneficial to transcending racism.
I do think, however, that Negritude’s focus on black pride is, in reasonable amounts, a great benefit of Senghor’s philosophy. Rather than grounding this pride in “essential” characteristics, though, it would be philosophically responsible to ground it instead in history and culture. In this manner we can preserve the strength of Negritude without perpetuating racial essentialism.
the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
Racism is dependent on the definition of race to lend it any validity or meaning. But I would argue an idea about racism that is very divergent from these ideas.
I tend to agree with Fredrickson's idea of racism as being hand in hand with religion. Racism and religious oppression or prejudice are often one-in-the-same. First, I'd like to just pose the question: what is the difference between two ideologies if the resulting actions from those ideologies are the same? I believe that a differing definitions are not indicators of the difference between the ideologies they suggest. Looking at racism and religious persecution is an example of what I am saying. There are forms of religious persecution (i.e. the crusades, Hitler's Germany, the current persecution of Muslims for terrorist acts) that are executed in the same way that racist campaigns are and often against the same peoples, the same 'races.'
The Crusades, waged between 1100 and 1300, long preexisted the definition of race. Their target were the iligitemate occupiers of the Holy Land, specifically Jereusalem. These First Crusade and most of the following ones were tasked with overthrowing Turk and other Muslim strongholds in the Holy Land. Jewish presense was also targeted with the Second Crusade. Throughout the crusdaes, Muslims and Jews were massacred and their homes burned. This was genocide, but of religious nature. The target however, was not only a relgious target, but two racial (as it was later defined and we understand it) groups, the Jews and the Arabs.
Similar campaignes in more modern modern history have been executed under the banner of either religious or racial cleansing. In Germany during the Third Reich, there was a systematic ethnic cleansing of Jews and other non-Arian people, yet Hitler also claimed he was conducting a campaign for God (her was raised Catholic). In Meim Kampf, he writes, "by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Is the desire for superiority innate in us? I think it is. When one becomes separate and distinct from the other, comparison inevitably follows. One of the most basic judgments between two objects is that of pure value: which is better? If you belong to one of the objects involved, obviously you will desire the superior status. The sense of superiority may be achieved in a variety of ways, and, as history demonstrates time and time again, need not require or reflect any actual superiority.
Civilized peoples regarded themselves as superior to the uncivilized—and still do. Christian crusaders and missionaries regarded themselves as superior to those who had yet to see the light. In each of these cases, as in most, when the one distinguishes itself from the rest, it is with an air of superiority. This is because we rarely make conscious effort to distinguish our inferiority. Egocentric ideas about this self-superiority often produce unfounded notions about the other’s inferiority.
These ideas have adverse effects. While there may be nothing inherently wrong with believing oneself superior in one’s faith and in the eyes of the Lord, the same is not the case when such personal notions lead to direct action against the other party (of whom is often—at least initially—ignorant of its inferiority). Examples are endless, and most result in the self-righteous group pillaging and exploiting the perceived inferior for selfish gains, always justified. Race is just one example of this general phenomenon.
The fact that peoples can be made to believe themselves superior based on entirely fabricated grounds, coupled with the justifiability of crude behavior when its object is deemed inferior, produces a powerful political weapon. Such tactics have been implemented in crusades, exploitation of black slave labor, Nazi persecution of Jews, McCarthyism, and are still used today to justify American occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq. Racism is merely a symptom or manifestation of this notion of superiority and its ramifications.
As a psychology major, I was especially drawn to Frantz Fanon’s theory on race. In regards to his essays, “Black Skin, White Masks,” and “Racism and Culture,” I agree with his stance on “the lived experience.” Although I obviously do not know the lived experience as a black person personally, as a woman, I understand how people can be “objectified.” Similar to any being exposed to scrutiny, African Americans are constantly fighting their culturally engrained stereotypes. However, I do not believe you have to be a member of an oppressed group in order to be objectified. As we explained in class, any two subjects can “objectify” one another.
Fanon further argued that individual’s possess the ability to transcend the “essence” of their being; in the words of Fanon, “existence precedes essence.” However, is it possible to transcend cultural structures such as “negrophobia?” Although I understand Fanon’s arguments/theories independent from one another, I am not sure how they intertwine. If African Americans’ lived experience is to transcend the essence of blackness, does this include both positive and negative qualities? When considering this question, I immediately thought about a poem I read in one of my classes last semester:
“For the white person who wants to know how to be my friend.”
By: Pat Parker Edited by: Gloria Anzaldua
The first thing you do is forget that I'm Black. Second, you must never forget that I'm Black.
You should be able to dig Aretha, but don't play her every time I come over. And if you decide to play Beethoven-don't tell me his life story. They make us take music appreciation too.
Eat soul food if you like it, but don't expect me to locate your restaurants or cook it for you.
And if some Black person insults you, mugs you, rapes your sister, rapes you, robs your house or is just being an ass- please do not apologize to me for wanting to do them bodily harm. It makes me wonder if you're foolish.
And even if you really believe Blacks are better lovers than whites-don't tell me. I might start thinking of charging stud fees.
In other words-if you really want to be my friend-don't make a labor of it. I'm lazy. Remember.
I believe this poem addresses several racial stereotypes; is it possible to acknowledge race without acknowledging racial stereotypes? How can one divorce the two socially constructed concepts, and would this be a form of transcendence? I understand that my blog post does not make an argument, but rather poses a series of questions. I’m hoping to get some feedback and opinions, because I clearly need help sorting through Fanon’s arguments!