Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Luxury of White Philosophy

Charles Mill begins his book explaining the overall difference between white and black philosophy. As a whole, I really like both his ideas and his writing style. Perhaps my favorite party of the first chapter was his mentioning of Ralph Ellison. I have never read Invisible Man. I think it got taken off my senior year reading list the year before I was a senior. Bummer. However, Mill has really inspired me to read the book…if I find time, of course.

Anyways, the part in this chapter that stuck out to me was the part where Mill asserts that those who are those who are “most solidly attached to the world have the luxury of doubting its reality, whereas those whose attachment is more precarious, are those compelled to recognize that it exists.” I think this is an absolutely fantastic statement. Philosophers, students, teachers, etc., forget how lucky they (we) are to be able to remove themselves from the world and philosophize about whatever they desire. I never really thought of questioning one’s existence as being a luxury…in fact, I kind of saw it as a burden. Personally, I think the point of white philosophy, if I can use that phrase so boldly, is to hypothetically question the ways in which reality works and how humans interact within it.That’s an incredibly vague and generic answer, but oh well. Anyways, I think it’s only possible for a select group of humanity to be able to question the world in this way. If the world does not oppress you, if it does not come down upon you so hard that it might as well be physically harming you, then you sure as hell can question whether or not it even exists. This is because you do not feel the weight of the world every day. If you can provide food for yourself then you do not feel the pain of hunger. If you have a happy family then you do not feel the pain of abuse and neglect. If you are financially secure then you do not feel the pain of not knowing how you’ll make it. Of course, whites technically created the modern world, so they're much freer to work within it and define it the way in which they please. 
I don’t really know where this is going, but I guess there’s somewhat of pretentiousness in white philosophy. Mill mentions that black philosophy is purely political because their philosophy is their relation to a world that is against them. So what’s the point of white philosophy? To show off the ability to talk about abstract concepts? I’m sure a lot of people can agree, but I often get frustrated with philosophy. I don’t yet fully understand the point of just talking about abstract ideas that seem to have little relevancy in our lives. However, I see a point to black philosophy; it’s more tangible, there’s perhaps more of a means to an end.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Nigger" Versus "Nigga" : The Contextual Framework of a Historical Term

This past weekend I was over a friend's house and one of my friends made a comment about Mel Gibson being racist. While I am not very familiar with the incident of Mel Gibson using the term "nigger" it did bother me because of the context that I was aware he used it in. Throughout this discussion, grew a debate of if Mel Gibson could be considered racist because of his use of the word nigger. This then turned into a debate about the use of the word nigger in both the black community and white community. One side felt that if we continue use the word nigger in our community , we should not expect white people not to use and the other side of the argument felt that we have the right to use the word because of the historical transformation of the word from a negative connotation to one of endearment or brotherhood/sisterhood.
While this was a very heated discussion I thought it was very thought provoking especially because of the wide array of opinions about the word nigger and how it has transformed in the black community. There are some in the black community that thinks we should do away with the use of this term as a symbol for endearment and there are others who feel it build a sense of community even though it historically symbolizes something of ignorance or negativity. This made me think of the use of the word noir in France. There were many philosophers and writers who reformed the word into a word of positive meaning.
My opinion about this topic is very clean cut. No I do not think that its okay for anyone outside of the black race should feel that they have the right to use this word regardless of how the black community may use it. Buuutttt LETS BE is going to be used by others outside of our race..... with this being said , I do feel as though the context that some use it does have a significant impact on the response that one will get from me. I do think that a lot of times when we hear white people use it , it is in a demeaning way to say someone is inferior. While we tend to use the "singing along with a song" example many times...

That is not the context that you mostly hear people of the black community rebelling to or wanting to fight about. It is usually when white people pop off and say things like "dumb niggers" or "yeah that's how those niggers are" simply because of the contextual formation. Context is the most important thing to cosider when engaging in discussions about the word nigger versus nigga.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mills' Notion of Race and Racial Education

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

Freedom vs. Essentialism

Negritude merely gave credit to the idea that people have inherent characteristics and exist in categories that they cannot step outside of. Because of this Fanon disapproved of the Negritude movement and believed that it was an antiracist racialism. This movement recognized separate race shifts while discouraging the application of racial prejudice. Though various traits were applied to the character of black individuals in a positive light, obviously the use of essentialism can also be used to give negative attributes to black people. Fanon felt that this movement only served to perpetuate what he called “negrophobia”. And with the negative characteristics that society applied to blacks, it was easier for negrophobia to thrive. This fear caused the dominant racial classes to isolate the black man from himself, and arrest his freedom, causing him to view himself as an object through racial prejudice.
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

Galliano and Individual Racism

Fashion designer John Galliano will face trial in France for the racist and anti-semitic comments he made drunkenly at a Paris cafe. (Article here) If convicted, he could face fines and jail time.

How does the reaction to Galliano's racial slurs fit into Fanon's warning that characterizing racism as an individual failing allows the larger cultural element of racism to go unchallenged?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Are Whites Racially Oppressed?

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

Baldwin, Racism and Illegality

In one of those strange, serendipitous overlapping of course content, this past week found me reading not only Fredrickson's Racism: A Short History, Fanon, but also James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time. For those of you unfamiliar with Baldwin, as I was only a few days ago, this book is - for lack of better words - totally brilliant, anguished, magisterial, transformative etc. It consists of a series of two essays, the first of which is addressed to James Baldwin's young nephew.
At one point, he writes: "This innocent country set you down in a ghetto in which, in fact, it intended that you should perish. Let me spell out precisely what I mean by that, for the heart of the matter is here, and the root of my dispute with my country. You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits of your ambition, were thus, expected to be set forever. You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity, and in as many ways as possible, that you were a worthless human being." (7)

Writing as a African American in the early 1960s, Baldwin words are clearly confronting the specific realities of anti-Black racism in the United States. But I think that these words, and the work in general, have a universality which transcends Baldwin's historical context, and speaks to fundamental questions of our human condition. There are are a number of ways that this quote could be extended into our class discussions, especially in regards to military-foreign policy, but I think another topic to which it speaks profoundly is our immigration debate. The notion of illegality, as a means to describe the legal status of people who live in this country, although distinct from, but nevertheless related to race, also serves to define millions of lives in this country. To be illegal, that is to say without documentation, dictates where you live, where you work, where and if you attend school, and imposes a certain limitation to what your life is feasibly capable of achieving. Illegality also, as the Arizona immigration law so markedly illustrates, carries certain racial connotations.
Fredrickson outlines in his book the decline of overtly racist regimes, and in its stead, the rise of a new cultural racism which replaces racial groups with cultural/religious groups. In understanding what Baldwin can mean to us today, we have to look not just at racial groups, but at the ways in which racist ideologies have transformed into ways of excluding and oppressing other subaltern groups. That is to say that while keeping the black/white paradigm in our vision, we need to look at it not as the the epitome of racism, but rather a model for how racism works amongst our human societies.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Senghor vs. Fanon

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.

Religious Persecution as 'Racism' Before Race was Defined

In class we talked about two schools of thought on the origins of racism. One school of thought is the one we have been focusing our time on in this class, which resolves around the idea that until the creation of a definition of race, introduced by Bernier and preceeding authors, racism did not exist. We have spent a lot of time on this idea, and I find it convincing, especially when I consider that racism can logically not exist without out the most foundational componenet of its definition, race. Race is, as its become apparent, a fascinatingly complex and dynamic definition that has been in a state of flex over the last centuries as great thinkers attempt to define it differently. Racism is:

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, "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

Today, the United States is executing a campaign against Islamist people, Muslims, in the Middle-East and Western Asia. "Radical Islamists" is the term used when talking about terrorists and justifying in military involvement in other countries. And the Taliban are a fundamentalist Muslim group, and al Qaeda is a militant Muslim group. We are not claiming a campaign against a race, only against 'terrorists' who happen to be defined by being Islamist. So in this religious war (which I think it is difficult to claim it is not), we are persecuting not only Islamists, but Muslims in general, the people, Arabs and other persons from the Middle-East. The demonstrate this, how are people in the US selected as possible 'threats' either in the Airport, Military, at border crossings, or anywhere else. I'll give you a hint; it is the rare occasion that you'll find a screening system that involves security personal and law enforcement asking every person what religion they are in order to determine possible Islamic militants. Rather, it is skin color, clothing options, religious and cultural garb, and facial hair that are used to persecute a religious group - in other words, it is race being used in a religious war to determine enemies.

So, the point of these examples is to show my original point, that religious persecution campaigns are often the same as racist campaigns. They attack the same people, often for the same reasons (fear or a created idea of the other being inferior). So now the question remains, did 'racism' begin before Bernier, during past religious campaigns? I think that it absolutely did, not as 'racism' since that word had yet to enter language, but as religious oppression which was executed using the same criteria that racism does in the post-enlightenment. The actions and behaviors that stemmed from Christian views of Islamists and Jews (i.e. military intervention through he Crusades), are extremely similar to the actions and behaviors exhibited in racist campaigns such as the apartheid in South Africa.

I recognize that what I am saying in this post is likely controversial and I'll admit that I've probably overlooked flaws in my logic (which is the downside of not being a philosophy student), but I think that I've at least given some good food for thought. Let me know what your reactions are. Does this idea that, although it wasn't called racism, there was racism and racist campaigns prior to race being defined that were proliferated under religious persecution and religious military campaigns instead, make sense? I think it does, especially when you consider, not the limitations of the English language and the lack of the word racism, but the actual execution of campaigns which targeted persons based on characteristics which were associated as characteristics of certain religious groups, and only later were defined as race.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Racial Violence

Violence has been used as a method of control and domination amongst those who are inferior all over the world. This is not only true for racism, but anything that can be labeled as an "ism." The concept of superior groups using violence against a group of people that are deemed as powerless can be applied to the abusing of women, children, and racial groups. The question was asked on Tuesday if there was a direct relationship between racism and violence and my answer would be YES. I think history has proved that violence has been used in direct relation with racism. In slavery, violence was used, in most cases, not as a punishment for something that was done wrong, but used more for the recognition of power and because it could be done. Even after slavery, the lynchings and police brutality for example were because of racism.
We started talking about whether or not violence was just physical or could it include other forms of violence, such as psychological and verbal. I think that physical violence is the one form that is most recognized, but I do think that psychological and verbal violence has a major effect on those who have experienced racial violence. I think these two are more detrimental than physical violence. Psychological scars are passed down from generation to generation and the negative images and words that were spoken are forever embedded in that person's life.
While looking at the different definitions of violence, I found that physical and psychological acts of violence could be defined from "abusive or unjust exercise of power.

vi·o·lence (v-lns)
1. Physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing: crimes of violence.
2. The act or an instance of violent action or behavior.
3. Intensity or severity, as in natural phenomena; untamed force: the violence of a tornado.
4. Abusive or unjust exercise of power.
5. Abuse or injury to meaning, content, or intent: do violence to a text.
6. Vehemence of feeling or expression; fervor

Now that we have came to the conclusion in class that all of us are racist in some form, how do you think that violence and racism plays out in today's society?

Superiority Complex

In class we discussed attitudinal and behavioral precursors to racial conception. Specifically, we noted the role religious myth played in grounding and justifying discrimination. Even before Africans as a race were regarded to be racially inferior, Noah’s cursed son Ham was cited as the source of these people’s alleged inequality. After much research and debate, and great effort on the part of oppressed, scientific evidence suggests that races are not inherently unequal, race is only a social construct. The perceived curse of Ham and conceived notions of race have served and still serve as modes to explain preconceived ideas about innate superiority.
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.

Can One Transcend the Essence of "Negrophobia"?

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!

Racism & Violence: Relevance in History vs. Today

After our class discussion on Fredrickson's, "Racism: A Short History", we got down to talking about race in terms of violence. I started to think about how this violence evolved, and the beginning of violence in the United States in regards to racism started when slavery began. We started to talk about how you need violence in order to perpetuate a system. Some believed that this was true, and others did not. After thinking about the relationship between racism and violence the first thing that I started to think about was white privilege. If you think about it, violence was initiated in the United States in terms of whites and blacks when blacks started to find their way of life. They started to humanize themselves, and make themselves other then the label that had been given to them as a slave. Violence was initiated so that whites could try and break down the power blacks gain from humanizing themselves.
The power that blacks would gain is possibly assimilating into the white society. Whites have always refused blacks, and today, still whites can't cope with the fact that they are at risk of losing their privilege. I have been learning about white privilege in my Anthropology class, and even if whites are against racism, and the classification of races, many of them would not give up this privilege. Back in time, during slavery, whites performed violence because blacks were starting to gain laws that gave them more freedom. Whites in fear, responded with lynching, and any other kind of violence to let them know that they were still in power. Do you think that violence is still connected today with racism and white privilege? Because today we aren't trying to perpetuate a system anymore, we claim we have equality within the races of America. What is the relationship between violence and race today?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thinking about James Baldwin...

Hey here is something cool! It is GRITtv video discussing James Baldwin, an African-American writer, scholar, activist, playwright, poet whose work explored issues of racial and sexual identity. His work and legacy have a lot of overlaps with issues of national identity, double-consciousness, and all sorts of compelling issues that we've touched on in class discussions.