Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Interview with Charles Mills by George Yancy November 17, 2014

Filed under: minorities in philosophy,politics,race — philodaria @ 2:36 am

In The Stone. A snippet:

C.M.: [. . .] Here in the United States, for example, we have the absurd situation of a huge philosophical literature on social justice in which racial injustice — the most salient of American injustices — is barely mentioned.

G.Y.: In your 1997 book, “The Racial Contract,” you discuss the concept of an “epistemology of ignorance,” a term which I believe you actually coined. What is meant by that term? And how do you account for the complete thematic marginalization of racial justice? Does an epistemology of ignorance help to explain it?

C.M.: Yes, I believe it does help to explain it, but first let me say something about the term. The phrasing (“epistemology of ignorance”) was calculatedly designed by me to be attention-getting through appearing to be oxymoronic. I was trying to capture the idea of norms of cognition that so function as to workagainst successful cognition. Systems of domination affect us not merely in terms of material advantage and disadvantage, but also in terms of likelihoods of getting things right or wrong, since unfair social privilege reproduces itself in part through people learning to see and feel about the world in ways that accommodate injustice. “Ignorance” is actively reproduced and is resistant to elimination. This is, of course, an old insight of the left tradition with respect to class. I was just translating it into a different vocabulary and applying it to race. So one can see the idea (and my later work on “white ignorance”) as my attempt to contribute to the new “social epistemology,” which breaks with traditional Cartesian epistemological individualism, but in my opinion needs to focus more on social oppression than it currently does.

Ignorance as a subject worthy of investigation in its own right has, by the way, become so academically important that next year Routledge is publishing a big reference volume on the topic, the “Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies,” edited by Matthias Gross and Linsey McGoey. The book covers numerous varieties of ignorance over a wide range of different areas and divergent etiologies, but my own invited contribution (“Global White Ignorance”) appears in the section on ignorance and social oppression. In this chapter, I argue that modernity is cognitively marked by a broad pattern in which whites generally endorse racist views (one type of ignorance) in the period of formal global white domination, and then (roughly from the post-World War II, decolonial period onward) shift to the endorsement of views that nominally decry racism, but downplay the impact of the racist past on the present configuration of wealth and opportunities (another type of ignorance). So remedial measures of racial justice are not necessary, and white privilege from illicit structural advantage, historic and ongoing, can remain intact and unthreatened. Insofar as mainstream “white” American political philosophy ignores these realities (and there are, of course, praiseworthy exceptions, like Elizabeth Anderson’s “The Imperative of Integration”), it can be judged, in my opinion, to be maintaining this tradition.

 

Naomi Zack on White Privilege November 6, 2014

Filed under: race — jennysaul @ 12:08 pm

in the NYTimes.

 

Being a philosopher of color November 3, 2014

Filed under: minorities in philosophy,race — philodaria @ 8:29 pm

Is now accepting submissions:

We are now collecting stories. Please send us any stories you have that are revealing about what it is like to be a person of color in philosophy. You needn’t be a person of color to send a story. Please anonymise your story as far as possible, especially if it is negative. (The editors may edit further for the sake of anonymity.)

 

Who has a right to self-defense? October 28, 2014

Filed under: discrimination,race — philodaria @ 3:51 am

From Mother Jones:

One Friday last May, the sun had not yet risen when a SWAT team ignited a flash-bang grenade outside Marvin Guy’s apartment in Killeen, Texas. Officers were trying to climb in through a window when Guy, who had a criminal record and was suspected of possessing cocaine, opened fire. Four officers were hit; one of them was killed.

Five months earlier, 100 miles away, a SWAT officer was shot during a predawn no-knock raid on another house. In that case, too, police threw a flash-bang grenade and tried to enter the residence. Henry “Hank” Magee, according to his attorney, grabbed his gun to protect himself and his pregnant girlfriend. “As soon as the door was kicked in, he shot at the people coming through the door,” says his attorney, Dick DeGuerin. With his legally owned semi-automatic .308 rifle, Magee killed one of the officers.

The cases are remarkably similar, except for one thing: Guy is black, Magee white. And while Magee was found to have acted in self-defense, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Guy. He remains in jail while he awaits trial.

 

Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen” reviewed in the New Yorker: quote added October 26, 2014

Filed under: academia,Microagressions,race — annejjacobson @ 10:42 pm

[My iPad refused to quote from the review, but the MAC air was happy to, so I'm sharing a bit.]

“Citizen: an American Lyric” has been short-listed for the National Book Award, and it is recently reviewed in the New Yorker. It is, the review says, especially important in this time, where injustices occur while the illusion of justice is perfected. One could hardly say the society she experiences is post-racial.

The poet Claudia Rankine’s new volume, her fifth, is “Citizen: An American Lyric” (Graywolf), a book-length poem about race and the imagination. Rankine has called it an attempt to “pull the lyric back into its realities.” Those realities include the acts of everyday racism—remarks, glances, implied judgments—that flourish in an environment where more explicit acts of discrimination have been outlawed. “Citizen,” which has been short-listed for the National Book Award, suggests that a contemporary “American lyric” is a weave of artfully juxtaposed intensities, a quarrel within form about form.

The review points out that its genre is hard to pin down. It reminded me startingly of the blog, What is it like to be a woman in philosophy.  One might, of course, worry about what is not explicit about killing an unarmed young black man, but we can get their meaning.

Another word for what Rankine is exposing is “microagressions.” Readers might find the following blog interesting:

http://www.microaggressions.com.

PLUS IT COSTS $5 for the Kindle edition.

 

Chris Lebron Interviewed at 3:AM: “The Colour of Our Shame” September 29, 2014

Filed under: academia,internet,minorities in philosophy,politics,race,social justice — Stacey Goguen @ 8:53 pm

You can read the interview here.

“Chris Lebron is a philosopher who asks deep questions about theories of justice appropriate for race. He thinks about bridging the gap between abstraction and lived experiences, about American democracy and racial inequality, marginalisation and oppression, about the idea of character and how it helps explain racial inequality, about the problem of social value, about why Rawls isn’t enough, about ‘white power’, about despair and blame, about perfectionism and egalitarianism, about soulcraft politics, about three principles of racial justice and about the lamentable number of black philosophers currently working in the Academy. Give this one the time of day to sink in, then reboot…”

 

Is The Economist now The Onion? September 5, 2014

Filed under: race — philodaria @ 4:05 am

I’m asking because I just came across this line, in a critique of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, a book about slavery in America:

Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains. This is not history; it is advocacy.

[Edit: I was so stunned, I forgot the link. Here it is.]

 

José vs. Joe September 3, 2014

Filed under: bias,discrimination,race — philodaria @ 4:27 am

Of course, we’ve posted about issues discrimination and bias issues with resumes before, so this will not be surprising to our readers, but it’s a subject worth revisiting (and I was pleased to see this from a source like BuzzFeed!). 

From BuzzFeed:

 
 
From the Huffington Post:

His name is José Zamora, and he had a routine.

During his months-long job search, he says he logged onto his computer every morning and combed the internet for listings, applying to everything he felt qualified for. In the Buzzfeed video above, he estimates that he sent out between 50 to 100 resumes a day — which is, in a word, impressive.

But Zamora said he wasn’t getting any responses, so on a hunch, he decided to drop the “s” in his name. José Zamora became Joe Zamora, and a week later, he says his inbox was full.

As he explains in the video, “Joe” hadn’t changed anything on his resume but that one letter. But what Zamora had done, effectively, was whitewash it.

 

What is the State of Blacks in Philosophy in the US? August 28, 2014

Filed under: bias,minorities in philosophy,race — jennysaul @ 5:21 am

A very important study.

This research note is meant to introduce into philosophical discussion the preliminary results of an empirical study on the state of blacks in philosophy, which is a joint effort of the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on the Status of Black Philosophers (APA CSBP) and the Society of Young Black Philosophers (SYBP). The study is intended to settle factual issues in furtherance of contributing to dialogues surrounding at least two philosophical questions: What, if anything, is the philosophical value of demographic diversity in professional philosophy? And what is philosophy? The empirical goals of the study are (1) to identify and enumerate U.S. blacks in philosophy, (2) to determine the distribution of blacks in philosophy across career stages, (3) to determine correlates to the success of blacks in philosophy at different career stages, and (4) to compare and contrast results internally and externally to explain any career stage gaps and determine any other disparities.

 

Ferguson, MO August 15, 2014

The past couple of days I’ve been keeping up with the protests in Ferguson, MO, following the death of 18 year old Michael Brown on August 9th. Sitting in my apartment two nights ago watching a live feed of people running away from police through a suburb while the police threw tear gas at them and into people’s front yards is one of the most surreal experiences I’ve had in the past few years. The last time I was locked onto twitter like that and completely lost track of time was when the Boston marathon bomber was running through a neighborhood was that directly adjacent to my own.

So here is a compilation of some resources that I think do a particularly good job of explaining and contextualizing what is going on in Ferguson. On top of this being an important current event, I think there are a lot of issues here that are relevant to various areas of philosophical research. But really, these events deserve attention on their own.

When I include my own commentary and judgment, I try to restrict myself to what direct testimony and documentation have claimed and to keep in mind the available counter evidence. But this compilation is not not ‘objective’ in that knee-jerk “well both sides did stuff wrong” way. Yes, some protesters were violent and there was opportunistic looting. But those actions are political and moral peanuts compared to what the police have done. Uneven power dynamics matter. Who escalated the violence and distrust matters. The different obligations that each side has to the other matters. Saying, “well both sides have been violent,” without factoring in the historical and political context of that violence is intellectually and morally lazy.

The entries below with asterisks are the ones I recommend if you don’t have a lot of time.

The info here isn’t exhaustive, and I don’t provide much concerning today’s events. Other aspects that you might want to look up on your own include: comparison with the Occupy movement (in terms of police response), comparison with the Bundy Ranch events, how Palestinians tweeted messages of support for Ferguson and included tips for how to deal with tear gas, the witness accounts given by Dorian Johnson and Tiffany Marshall, more on how journalists were treated and had a hard time accessing protests, and analysis of the police chief’s press conference today where he finally identified the officer who shot Brown (Darren Wilson) and claimed that Brown was a robbery suspect. Brown’s family has things to say about that press conference.

Summary and timeline of events:

**If you want to read just one comprehensive overview of events in Ferguson, I recommend this article by Vox. It’s a pretty lengthy article. It includes a timeline, punctuated with pictures and vine videos (very short) from twitter. It pretty clearly distinguishes between rumors and what we know for sure. It includes explanation of events from today, and briefly discusses at the end some of the context for why events in Ferguson have played out as they have.

There is a google maps that has pinned many important events and locations. When you click on the link just find the cluster of symbols around St. Louis, and zoom into that area. If you click on a symbol on the map, or on its listing on the left side of the screen, it will highlight the location and give you information about the event. You’ll easily be able to identify Florissant Ave (where Brown was killed) because it’s where most of the symbols are clustered.

This post on reddit is a live feed of users reporting events from Ferguson. It is long. I mean, LONG. But if you want to see the nitty gritty of what was going on minute by minute, this is the place to go. Also you can check out #Ferguson on Twitter.

 

Context and History:

**For a quick summary of Ferguson’s demographics and why there was been so much tension between the citizens of Ferguson and police, Vox has this 2 minute video.

This article shows some of the pictures from Ferguson protests next to pictures from the civil rights movement. When I was watching live feeds on August 13th, I saw cops in military/riot gear, with German Shepherds standing next to them. My exact thoughts were something like, “WTF do they need dogs for? Do they understand how ****** racist that looks to bring dogs to these protests–given our history?”

This picture is becoming one of the most iconic from the events.

 

Journalism Coverage:

A collection of pictures from events. If #22 was in black and white, I would think it’s from the 60s.

There was a really important change between Weds night and Thurs night. To get a sense of that change, you can watch these live feed recordings.

This is one of the feeds I was watching on August 13th (Wed). It’s about 30 mins in total, but police actions escalate quickly and the journalist recording the video does a good job of narrating what’s happening, even as he has to start running. You’ll see tear gas (I think it’s tear gas) being thrown onto people’s property (around 11:00).

Just to note, given pictures and people’s first hand accounts, there was at least one molotov cocktail thrown Weds night.

Now you can watch this video from August 14th (Thurs). It’s long, but really you can just skim through it to get the sense that for the whole hour, cars are honking in support and people are walking around with signs. That is the same street where the night before there was tear gas, armorer vehicles forming a blockade, police with sniper rifles, etc.  The first picture on this article (with the train) sums up how wildly different Thurs was from Wed.

**I also highly recommend this report by Elon James White, who is a political and cultural commentator / internet radio host from NYC (with a background in comedy, I believe), who went down to Ferguson with his two of his co-hosts (Aaron Rand Freeman and Emily Epstein White). If you don’t have a lot of time, I recommend listening to the part where White explains how he got a police officer to aim his gun at him (starts around 14:15). I probably can’t explain what it’s like to listen to one of your favorite podcasters (who normally discusses the news, recipes involving bacon, and super hero movies) talk about him being his sort-of-snarky-but-polite, refuses-to-backdown-from-confrontation self, and getting a *sniper rifle* pointed at him. So I’ll just say listen to the clip. And check out TWIB for good podcasts on news/culture/race/etc.

At least two journalists were arrested on Weds night. This article includes a short (1 min) video recorded by one of the journalists as a police officer (who looks like a soldier) orders him out of McDonalds. He was arrested I think right after that video cuts out.

St. Louis politician Antonio French was also arrested on Weds night. You can check out his twitter feed here.

I’m including one picture on here, because even if all the claims about looting, molotov cocktails, and gunshots are true, this picture still encapsulates why the police’s actions have been so problematic. It is a picture of a sniper rifle laser pointed at a protester’s back. You can see a video of this here (at the bottom of the article, around 1:20). If the police are so nervous (or so cavalier) that they are pointing military-grade weapons at protesters who are not even facing them, something is deeply, deeply wrong.

 

Responses:

This post on reddit includes links to responses from the mayor, the governor, Eric Holder (US attorney general), and others. They’re under the heading, “Statements, comments, reports”

Rand Paul wrote this piece in response to the protests in Ferguson. Many people find it notable because of this line: “Anyone who thinks race does not skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention.” Though, it ends up spending more time talking about the relationship between militarization of police and the size of the federal government than it does about race.

President Obama made these remarks about Ferguson (video). People seem split over whether these remarks influenced later events and whether were empty attempts to appeal to both sides.

Captain Ron Johnson, who was put in charge of security in Ferguson after the police’s militarized reactions Weds night, discusses his concerns with how some information was released on August 15th (today).

 

 
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