03 July 2008

more snips

But it is seeming to me that race (together with racism and race privilege) is apparently constructed as something inescapable. And it makes sense that it would be, since such a construction would best serve those served by race and racism. Of course race and racism are impossible to escape; of course a white person is always in a sticky web of privilege that permits only acts which reinforce ("reinscribe") racism. This just means that some exit must be forced. That will require conceptual creativity, and perhaps conceptual violence.
Marilyn Frye, "White Woman Feminist", 1992. it's quite brief and you may as well read the whole thing.

Once I became aware of the privilege afforded to me by white racial classification, the question that came immediately to mind was, How ought I to act with respect to white privilege? This section is presented as a philosophical narrative on this question and summarizes how I've gradually come to understand privilege as a resource rather than as a dilemma.

My initial, admittedly unreflective response to white privilege was to explore ways of dissociating myself from whiteness and thus from the privileges that acompany it. If privilege is generated by injustice, I reasoned, I should consciously seek out ways of divesting myself of white privilege. After all, I didn't ask for these privileges; I was just born into a social/political system structured to benefit persons who appear to be white people. If these privileges are made possible by oppression, then I don't want them; I want to divest myself of them. But suppose divesting is impossible. Well, maybe there are responsible ways of using white privilege that do not perpetuate the institutionalized racism I want to demolish. Or, maybe all white privilege is by defition so toxic that it poisons everything with which it comes into contact. Or, perhaps there are varieties of white privilege I can use safely.
Alison Bailey, "Despising an Identity They Taught Me to Claim*" in Whiteness: Feminist Philosophical Reflections (ed. Chris Cuomo and Kim Hall), 1999.

(*this is a play on a 1980 title by Michelle Cliff, Claiming an Identity They Taught Me to Claim. I have not read that one.)
that collection also has a couple of other things i really want to post and think about, essays that complicate the idea of race with the possibility of "being" a race you don't "look like" and vice-versa. what is misrepresentation? what is authentic? for that matter, what is authenticity? there don't seem to be any stable answers. i'll try and get those posted later, but i want to share such a big chunk of them that it's no longer really excerpts and more like outright stealing.


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