View Full Version : Racial Illiteracy

David G
04-15-2015, 11:34 AM
Because we don't know what we don't know (underlining mine) --

http://www.salon.com/2015/04/10/white_americas_racial_illiteracy_why_our_national_ conversation_is_poisoned_from_the_start_partner/?source=newsletter

I am white. I have spent years studying what it means to be white in a society that proclaims race meaningless, yet is deeply divided by race. This is what I have learned: Any white person living in the United States will develop opinions about race simply by swimming in the water of our culture. But mainstream sources—schools, textbooks, media—don’t provide us with the multiple perspectives we need.

Yes, we will develop strong emotionally laden opinions, but they will not be informed opinions. Our socialization renders us racially illiterate. When you add a lack of humility to that illiteracy (because we don’t know what we don’t know), you get the break-down we so often see when trying to engage white people in meaningful conversations about race.

Mainstream dictionary definitions reduce racism to individual racial prejudice and the intentional actions that result. The people that commit these intentional acts are deemed bad, and those that don’t are good. If we are against racism and unaware of committing racist acts, we can’t be racist; racism and being a good person have become mutually exclusive. But this definition does little to explain how racial hierarchies are consistently reproduced.

[however] Social scientists understand racism as a multidimensional and highly adaptive system—a system that ensures an unequal distribution of resources between racial groups. Because whites built and dominate all significant institutions, (often at the expense of and on the uncompensated labor of other groups), their interests are embedded in the foundation of U.S. society.

Osborne Russell
04-15-2015, 12:09 PM
It's individual and systemic.

"Racism and being a good person have become mutually exclusive" -- yep. George Washington was a good person, and a racist. What made that possible was systematized racism.

What you do and who you are cannot be wrong, so there has to be a rationale. If we are doing it, we have to have a rationale that covers us. It has to become systematic so that we can go on doing what we're doing, without having to explain every case by itself. Ultimately, there is a moral miracle by which we can even lament it while evading any responsibility for it.

04-15-2015, 06:09 PM
There's a lot of interesting reading under the topic of "whiteness studies"