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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Quote from Cornel West

Food for thought:

"The paradox of race in America is that our common destiny is more pronounced and imperiled precisely when are divisions are deeper"--Cornell West in his book Race Matters

He also says we "talk about the 'problems' black people pose for whites rather than considering what this way of viewing black people reveals about us as a nation"--thus, we should "begin not with the problems of black people but with the flaws of American society."


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Healthcare and race and poverty

With the healthcare issue, perhaps the most important life and death issue of (in)justice in our lifetimes, at a critical juncture, I thought a couple of short quotes from 48 years ago might by apropo. I've been reading a classic from an earleir generation, Blaming the Victim by William Ryan. Hear are the quotes that jumped out at me: you judge how timely or dated they are:

"The reason whites live longer than very simple. They buy, at very high prices, that extra seven years of life from the merchants who have it for sale" (158). "The poor are less healthy for the same reason they have less of everything else: they can't afford to buy health" (159).

Kind of cuts through the b.s. and hits you upside the head like a two-by-four, no?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Is the White anti-racist movement racist?

I've subscribed to a white anti-racist network web newsletter for some time now. The latest carries an intriguing, insightful discussion of racial issues within the anti-racist movement. the link is at
Jeff Hitchcock, in the article "A Blessing or a Curse?" responds to a blog entry by "Guerilla Mama"
Excerpts from Guerrilla Mama (AKA Mai'a): "the ones who are the most ’successful’ in anti racism are white. they are the authors, bloggers, consultants, workshop trainers, speakers etc." While critical race people of color provide most of the theory, whites benefit most from the antiracist "industry." "...the line in the anti racism mvmt is that it is white people’s duty and responsibility to speak to white folks about white privilege. people of color shouldnt have to do it."
"but. when white folks are getting mad props, respect, accolades, book deals, professorships, awards, etc. when white folks use the fact that they identify as white to gain a leg up on people of color in the anti racism industry/profession. then it is racism pure and simple. and if you are white and in the anti racism movement then that is what you are doing."

And excerpts from Hitchcock's response: "Her words are troubling, partly because they hold truth, and partly because they obscure." "White people benefit from the very thing we work against." Yet he defends white racist leaders, saying they all acknowledge their debt in learning from people of color (my reply--and do they point their listeners to these voices rather than making them disciples of their own?)He also mentions the "People's Institute for Survival and Beyond, an organization and anti-racist collective led by people of color which over the course of nearly 30 years has single-handedly trained a few hundred thousand people and introduced more white people to anti-racism than the collective body of white anti-racists and whiteness studies scholars combined." He admits that the mainstream attention to the antiracist movement enriches the white practitioners, but claims that in "In the smaller, more concentrated community of white anti-racist activists who wish to be part of a larger multiracial anti-racist movement, that's as much an obstacle as it is a benefit." And what's to be done about this racial injustice within the movement, I ask? My reply on Mai'a's blog is this: "In religious terms, perhaps what the antiracist movement needs is less evangelism and proseletyzing, and more confession and penance and restitution."

Interesting issues--make me squirm a little, gotta fight the defense impulse, ("How dare you question my motivation and sincerity!") and see the white privilege at work within the very movement meant to expose and expunge said privilege.