Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Philosophers on race

This is an eight-part series that the NYT did, of interviews with philosophers who think about race in the US.  I've still got quite a few of these to read, but I think the pieces are good food for thought.  In particular I like this quote, "The political framework of liberalism, which promises equality and universal protection for “all,” depends on people to believe those promises, so that racial discrimination, brutality, violence, dehumanization, can be written off as accidental, incidental, a problem with the application of liberal theory rather than part of the deep structure of liberalism."  It captures what I perceive to be a fundamental disconnect of experience in most white-black discussions.  Often the white interlocutor in such a conversation can't get past the fact that, if we all (white and nonwhite) just truly believed in the liberal promise of equal rights and treatment for all, then all race and class problems would vanish in a generation.  This is probably sound in a very logical, idealistic way--almost tautological, indeed.  If people stopped treating each other unjustly, then by definition injustice would seek to exist.  Meanwhile, the black interlocutor in such a situation can't get past the reality of systemic, relentless abuse and menace and harm to him and his own from the society at large, all rosy tautologies be damned.

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