California Roundtable on Philosophy and Race

The California Roundtable on Philosophy and Race will hold its fifth annual roundtable on October 3-4, 2008 at UC Berkeley. All sessions will be held at 554 Barrows Hall. 

Friday, October 3, 2008 
9:30-11:30 am Charles Watson, Chair
9:30 am
Robin James, “Sensus communis and hegemonic ‘common sense’: race as interpretive horizon and distribution of the sensible” 
10:30 am
Susan Smith, “Race as a Tool in Medical Diagnoses”
11:30 am-1:00 pm Lunch 
1:00 pm-2:30 pm Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Chair
Keynote Speaker: Maria Lugones
2:45-4:45 pm Gregory Velazco y Trianosky, Chair
2:45 pm 
Kyoo Lee, “Still (Un)Written On the Face:
On The Artifactual Originality of the “Paper Sons” of Chinese America as a Spectral Resource for Citational Politics To Come” 
3:45 pm
Darrell Moore, “John Locke, Mary Rowlandson, and the Ontological Transformation of Space”
5:00 pm Falguni Sheth, Chair
Nelson Maldonado-Torres, “Gender and Power: Black Skins, White Masks” 
Saturday, October 4, 2008 
10:00 am-12:00 noon Rita Alfonso, Chair
10:00 am
Shireen Roshanravan, “Long and Wide” South Asian Selves:
Feminist Implications of Horizontal Cross-Racial Identification”
11:00 am
Sarah Hoagland, Colonial Practices/Colonial Identities: White Academic Feminist Deployment of Gender
12:00-1:30 Lunch 
 1:30-3:30 pm Tina Botts, Chair
1:30 pm 
Alexis Artaud de la Ferriere, “Modernist Primitivism: Aesthetic Colonialism?” 
2:30 pm
Elizabeth Philipose, “Feminism, International Law, and the Spectacular Violence of the ‘Other’: Decolonizing the Laws of War”
4:00-6:00 pm Crista Lebens, Chair
4:00 pm
Elaine Chukan Brown, “Theoretical Choice and Ethical Implications: A Critique of Andreasen’s Cladistic Notion of Race”
5:00 pm
Michael Monahan, “Racial Justice and the Politics of Purity”

So who’s out of touch? Dennis Prager on liberals and bias

Suppose you are driving around to charge up your iphone, and to combat the utter boredom, you decide to listen to some talk radio.**  Now if the only way you can charge up your cell phone is by driving, then you might just be in a Gulf State where IKE blew out the power for hundreds of square miles.  And then one of the better people you might listen to is:  Dennis Prager!  At least one doesn’t get much ranting from him.  Quoting imprecisely from memory, I think here’s the sort of thing you might hear:

Ladies  and gentlemen, do you honestly know anyone who thinks  that Obama and McCain are equally good candidates, but they’re going to vote for McCain because Obama is black?  Of course not.  But liberals think that’s the way people vote.  Ladies and gentlemen, that is how out of touch liberals are.  They don’t have any contact with ordinary people and so they honest to God are completely ignorant of how you and I think.

Well, no. Some liberals may not know how prejudice works, but anyone who has looked into it – and at least some liberals have – knows that it is more subtle.  Much prejudice tends to be indirect; bias leads one to perceive equally qualified people as qualified differently.  As a very interesting WaPo article on implicit bias says:

In perhaps the most dramatic real-world correlate of the bias tests, economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago recently sent out 5,000 résumés to 1,250 employers who had help-wanted ads in Chicago and Boston. The résumés were culled from Internet Web sites and mailed out with one crucial change: Some applicants were given stereotypically white-sounding names such as Greg; others were given black-sounding names such as Tyrone.

Interviews beforehand with human resources managers at many companies in Boston and Chicago had led the economists to believe that black applicants would be more likely to get interview calls: Employers said they were hungry for qualified minorities and were aggressively seeking diversity. Every employer got four résumés: an average white applicant, an average black applicant, a highly skilled white applicant and a highly skilled black applicant.

The economists measured only one outcome: Which résumés triggered callbacks?

To the economists’ surprise, the résumés with white-sounding names triggered 50 percent more callbacks than résumés with black-sounding names. Furthermore, the researchers found that the high-quality black résumés drew no more calls than the average black résumés. Highly skilled candidates with white names got more calls than average white candidates, but lower-skilled candidates with white names got many more callbacks than even highly skilled black applicants.

For employers who think they want to hire minority workers, an average white applicant can seem better than a highly qualified minority candidate.  As Maureen Dowd reports on a women in Palin’s home town:

I talked to a Wal-Mart mom, Betty Necas, 39, wearing sweatpants and tattoos on her wrists.

She said she’s never voted, and was a teenage mom “like Bristol.” She likes Sarah because she’s “down home” but said Obama “gives me the creeps. Nothing to do with the fact that he’s black. He just seems snotty, and he looks weaselly.”

So who’s out of touch, Mr. Prager?  Maybe it is you, if you have no idea of how prejudice works, and it is very likely to be a heavy influence in our upcoming election.


** Everyone knows that, speaking generally, a woman reading a book while sitting in a running car in a parking lot is endangering herself?


“We still don’t like black people”

At this blog, we’ve often discussed the complexities of understanding and combatting implicit, unconscious bias. But it’s important to be aware the the totally fucking explicit kind is out there as well.

one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks — many calling them “lazy,” “violent” or responsible for their own troubles.

The title of the post is from a man interviewed for the article, whose party affiliation is not stated.