Friday, April 26, 2013

Using Racism as a Defense?! Should there be laws against blatant racism?

I do not know the exact validity of this article or its sources, regardless, say it is true, what do you all think about this? Here's the article
A Texas teacher claims she couldn’t have fondled a black student because she’s "too racist".
That's what the defense is saying anyway. They are using her apparent racist views to defend her that she "doesn't EVEN like to touch black students". I think this defense is ludicrous, if anything it gives her more cause to abuse the black students. She clearly devalues their autonomy and personhood due to her, self proclaimed racism, therefore that would justify her mistreatment of her students I would think. "The girl also told police that she asked the teacher to stop touching her and was made to stand out in the hall without any lunch — but Stokes also denied that". Regardless of the touching, she could be prosecuted for making her student miss lunch. Under no circumstances should a human be punished by restricting basic properties for life.
So what about this "racism defense"? Is her self declared racism a valid defense for not touching the black student?
"Stokes’ attorney, Patty Maginnis, said that any racist comments made by here client were “not proof that any crime has been committed.” " 
So as of now, 1. we have accusation of touching, 2. accusation of student being forced to miss lunch 3. verbal confirmation of descrimation 4. Lunch record report of student not eating lunch.

There are no laws against racism. I think that it is going to be difficult to prove that she molested the student, but mistreatment, neglect, and prejudice is there. The prejudice, I would think even gives more clues that the teacher would touch the student. But is this causality? Probably not. But should there be laws against blatant discrimination? I think there should be. If there was a law against blatant discrimation, she would have no defense, and it would be thrown out in court.
Absurd that she is able to use racism to defend her case I believe.

If she is guilty, or atleast charged with some sort of hate crime, what should happen to her? Should she be imprisoned? Forced to take a class on racism? I really dislike how the justice system deals with people like her, clearly she is just fucking ignorant, and she definitely does not need to be teaching in public schools. But I am a person that thinks people should be taught and forgiven. Prison is not going to help this person, we need a society that treats racism, not isolates it.

Wachu guise think?  I'm trying to think progressively on this one.

A Funny Way to Problematize "Color-Blindness"


Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Two Theories of Racism

There are two theories from the beginning of racism:

One is the narrative we’ve been working through all semester, based on some basic level of othering through phenotype. Through this method, it’s mostly the physical differences that separate races and later induced biology and anthropology to uphold the claims of separation. Eventually, this type of separation spurred genetic debates and new ideas about evolution, some going as far as to support polygenesis. This discussion prompted hate and violence.
The second narrative, the one George Frederickson’s book Racism: A Short History discusses, is rooted in religion. Namely, from the Christian religion onto everyone else (Frederickson’s emphasis). However, this second narrative is a little different from the first in that it seems to have sprung from hate and later used science to further it’s cause. This differing was from an outside, non-genetic, not-phenotypic cause. It was based on faith and culture. Then the othering turns to phenotypes, basing the differences in biology. And then furthering hate and violence.

The difference is subtle, but still there.

My main inquiry was to hear what everyone thinks about this second narrative. Is it any less believable? Even in the first narrative, early peoples used scripture to sanctify slavery. They used passages from the Bible to justify slavery same as they did in the second narrative. They also noted the exclusions of the Bible: for example, there is not one red word speaking against slavery. For those who may not know, Jesus’s words are written in red in some modern Bibles.

Is it more possible that the second narrative is truer? The earliest we know about Western slavery comes from Greeks and Romans, who didn’t distinguish between peoples based on their skin or features. They denoted “civilized” and “barbarous” and that was that. Barbarous referred to cultural and linguistic distinctions, much like the second narrative does.

I’m also wondering if it’s really just a chicken-or-the-egg situation.

Or did people really just use whatever methods they could to justify racism, no matter where the justifications came from? Be they religious, biological-scientific, cultural-social, or intellectual-psychological?

Does it even matter which narrative we believe in? Racism is here, it holds weight today because of our history, so what does it matter how it originated? Or does it matter? Are we simply looking for someone to blame the beginnings of racism on?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Achieving Our Humanity Through This Class (mic drop?)

Working with Emmanuel Eze's book was a very unique experience- both in terms of the expectations I had going into the text and in their contrast to the actual content of the book. Achieving Our Humanity was not terribly difficult to read, although it was difficult to understand at first what exactly Eze was trying to accomplish. Initially, I believed that Patrick, Michael, and I were going to embark on a long-winded hypothetical description of a "world without race," or at least some argument leading to a situation were that world might be possible. As it turned out, what Eze was getting after was a discussion about a postracial philosophy. This goal, at least to me, implies that the current state of philosophy is not only racialized, but racist. That may seem like a strong claim, but after reading the first half of Eze's book (which is a description of the creation and cementing of "race" by the most historically important philosophers) it becomes obvious that the author has a specific agenda in mind- one that involves a complete overhaul of the way the history of philosophy is taught and seen by the world.

Once I finished Achieving Our Humanity, I was able to take a step back and look at Eze's argument as a whole. What struck me from his conclusion that a postracial philosophy is possible only through the implementation of an "open-textured racial history" was the idea that Eze would have approved and promoted our class and Dr. J's selected curriculum for this year. What we have done has been so helpful to me personally, not just on the surface- in terms of a widening of my knowledge of history and philosophical theory regarding race, but in a much deeper and more profound way. I brought up in class how our "open-textured" discussion of historical texts led us to an "open-textured" discussion about the world around us- I was speaking about the class period that we spent discussing white privilege at Rhodes; namely, listing out instance after instance of day to day activities in which white students have an advantage over their peers. This is a conversation that Dr. J said simply wouldn't have been possible 15 years ago.

Our class has fundamentally changed the way I perceive the world around me. I can honestly say that this is the first time that this has happened (at least to this degree) for me in a class at Rhodes. This has manifested itself in a few ways. First, I am more aware of the magnitude at which race and racial thought plays into our day to day lives. Second, I understand infinitely more about the origin of that thought. Third, and perhaps most important and startling for me, is that I have begun to understand the foundation of my own race-related thought- for everything from a racist joke playing out and perpetuating a fundamental cultural misunderstanding to an increased awareness of some of the things that have happened to my girlfriend (who is black) and I over the past two years in Houston.

Reading Achieving Our Humanity was the ideal way to end the semester. It refreshed my memory of a lot of material that we learned in class and it provided a tangible reason for why the class itself is so important. It was not until reading Eze's work that I could specifically outline (as I did in the previous paragraph) how this class has changed me. When it comes time to bubble in the obligatory questionnaire about our experience in Philosophy of Race, I won't be lying when I give it the scores it deserves.

Achieving Our Humanity

On Tuesday's class we talked about how America and the world could achieve a post racial philosophy from the thoughts of Eze in his book, Achieving Our Humanity. The current state of our philosophy is one that has been constructed to answer the problems of the white man. For example, when the Founding Fathers say that all men are created equally, they in fact meant all white men and not humanity like we would like to believe. A racial philosophy also alludes to the world's history of colonialism and the distinction and colonization of the "other," or anyone who wasn't white. On Tuesday Henry pointed out that in order to reverse this white supremacist philosophy, a post racial philosophy (not a post racial world) would have to be our goal. Attempts at a post racial world, where we have elected a Black president and instituted colorblind policies in an effort toward cultural browning are not enough. The only way to achieve a post racial philosophy is through devaluing hierarchical systems and also through the distribution of history through classes like we are in now. In Eze's words, we must educate the future and present through "a commitment to modern history in general, and to an open textured understanding of black racial memory and not a biological racial essence. This would provide a sound basis for philosophical criticism of black history as well as a basis for an ethically informed economic and cultural critique of anti-black racism"(Eze). In class we took this to mean that changes must be made in the clear cut, right-wrong structure of education. There is currently a focus on the sciences, which foster an environment of factuality, although more philosophy classes should exist that place this system of right and wrong into a historical and cultural context. This historical and cultural context can be seen in politics, religion and even in the way "other" people treat themselves and each "other". If we suppose that this is the way to create a post racial philosophy and achieve our humanity, then my question is, what's taking us so long? Dr. Johnson mentioned that even Rhodes has changed in the types of classes it offers to include a class on the philosophy of race, so what other structural changes need to be made in order to finally achieve our humanity?