Last week, when the profession briefly focused its online attention on racism in philosophy, there were quite a few expressions of scepticism about the negative experiences black philosophers were reporting. Then some white philosophers started speaking up, off the blogs, saying “hey, nobody should be surprised, given the racist things that some leading white philosophers openly say”. They hesitated, however, to say this on the blogs. Well, I’m here to say it on this blog: in addition to the fact, often discussed here, that we probably all harbour unconscious racism, there ARE leading philosophers who don’t hesitate to openly express racist views.* I have been present when this happened. (To my great shame, I was a timid and terrified student and had no idea what to do or say.) We can’t fix a problem if we don’t talk about it.
We also can’t fix it if we don’t talk about what to do. A good start would be for everyone to think a bit about what to do if they encounter such a situation: it’s hard to know what to do, but it’s important to do *something*. I urge you, then, to visit this site about bystander training.
*I’m not saying that this is widespread, and I don’t think that it is (though surely unconscious racism is, just because we’re humans living in racist societies). Most, though definitely not all, of the white philosophers in these discussions, were shocked to hear of open racism in the profession.