“I Don’t See Color” Personal and Critical Perspectives on White Privilege

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Canada, Economics, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Philosophy, Social Science, United States on 2016-01-03 15:34Z by Steven

“I Don’t See Color” Personal and Critical Perspectives on White Privilege

Pennsylvania State University Press
280 pages
6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-06499-4

Edited by:

Bettina Bergo, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Université de Montréal, Montreal, Canada

Tracey Nicholls, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Lewis University, Romeoville, Illinois

Who is white, and why should we care? There was a time when the immigrants of New York City’s Lower East Side—the Irish, the Poles, the Italians, the Russian Jews—were not white, but now “they” are. There was a time when the French-speaking working classes of Quebec were told to “speak white,” that is, to speak English. Whiteness is an allegorical category before it is demographic.

This volume gathers together some of the most influential scholars of privilege and marginalization in philosophy, sociology, economics, psychology, literature, and history to examine the idea of whiteness. Drawing from their diverse racial backgrounds and national origins, these scholars weave their theoretical insights into essays critically informed by personal narrative. This approach, known as “braided narrative,” animates the work of award-winning author Eula Biss. Moved by Biss’s fresh and incisive analysis, the editors have assembled some of the most creative voices in this dialogue, coming together across the disciplines.

Along with the editors, the contributors are Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Nyla R. Branscombe, Drucilla Cornell, Lewis R. Gordon, Paget Henry, Ernest-Marie Mbonda, Peggy McIntosh, Mark McMorris, Marilyn Nissim-Sabat, Victor Ray, Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, Louise Seamster, Tracie L. Stewart, George Yancy, and Heidi A. Zetzer.

Table Contents

  • Preface / Eula Biss
  • Introduction / Bettina Bergo and Tracey Nicholls
  • Part I. What is White Privilege?
    • Chapter 1: Deprivileging Philosophy / Peggy McIntosh
    • Chapter 2: White Privilege and the Problem with Affirmative Action / Lewis R. Gordon
    • Chapter 3: Revisioning “White Privilege” / Marilyn Nissim-Sabat
  • Part II. The Images and Rhetoric of White Privilege
    • Chapter 4: The Very Image of Privilege: Film Creation of White Transcendentals in Vienna and Hollywood / Bettina Bergo
    • Chapter 5: Painting and Negotiating Colors / Lilia Moritz Schwarcz
    • Chapter 6: I Was an Honorary White Man: Reflections on Space, Place, and Origin / Mark McMorris
  • Part III. Troubling Privilege
    • Chapter 7: Whiteness as Insidious: On the Embedded and Opaque White Racist Self / George Yancy
    • Chapter 8: White Privilege: The Luxury of Undivided Attention / Heidi A. Zetzer
    • Chapter 9: The Costs of Privilege and Dividends of Privilege Awareness: The Social Psychology of Confronting Inequality / Tracie L. Stewart and Nyla R. Branscombe
    • Chapter 10: Unpacking the Imperialist Knapsack: White Privilege and Imperialism in Obama’s America / Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Victor Ray, and Louise Seamster
  • Part IV. Other Perspectives on White and Western Privilege
    • Chapter 11: Whiteness and Africana Political Economy / Paget Henry
    • Chapter 12: The Great White North: Failing Muslim-Canadians – Failing Us All / Tracey Nicholls
    • Chapter 13: Rethinking Ethical Feminism through uBuntu / Drucilla Cornell
    • Chapter 14: The Afrocentrist Critique of Eurocentrism: The Decolonization of Knowledge /Ernest-Marie Mbonda
  • Contributor Biographies
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The Spectacle of the Races: Scientists, Institutions, and the Race Questions in Brazil, 1870-1930 (review)

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-10-29 22:10Z by Steven

The Spectacle of the Races: Scientists, Institutions, and the Race Questions in Brazil, 1870-1930 (review)

Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Volume 75, Number 1, Spring 2001
pages 152-153
DOI: 10.1353/bhm.2001.0014

J. D. Goodyear, Senior Lecturer and Associate Director, Public Health Studies Program
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

Lilia Moritz Schwarcz. The Spectacle of the Races: Scientists, Institutions, and the Race Questions in Brazil, 1870-1930. Translated by Leland Guyer. Originally published as O espetáculo das raças: Cientistas, instituições e questão racial no Brasil, 1870-1930 (Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 1993). New York: Hill and Wang, 1999. ix + 355 pp. Ill. $35.00.

Brazil, like the United States, is an immigrant nation with an extensive history of slavery: in more than three hundred years of slave trading, Brazil received an estimated 3.5 million Africans. But unlike the United States, in Brazil slavery permeated all of the cities as well as the many distinctive regions. And with slavery came widespread miscegenation — a phenomenon that has shaped not only the demography of modern Brazil but also its intellectual history and cultural identity.

As the nineteenth century unfolded, Brazil shed its status as a Portuguese colony and educated elites sought to adopt notions of progress that were derived from ideas of the Enlightenment and the emerging power of science. Toward the end of the century, the thought of Darwin, Spencer, and the positivists lay at the core of debates about race and Brazil’s potential to achieve order and progress. Lilia Moritz Schwarcz takes up the challenge of examining the social history of racial ideas held by a range of Brazilian “shadowy men of science” (p. 16). In so doing she offers us a remarkable playbill of the extensive cast of characters and the plots that shaped the intellectual discourse among elites in Brazil for more than six decades.

Schwarcz focuses on the naturalists, historians, legal theorists, and physicians who sought to rationalize Brazilian social realities in light of nineteenth-century European thought. These are her “shadowy men” who engaged in defining the role of race in Brazilian identity. As a group, they were well educated and eager to participate in the debates begun in Europe and fueled by Darwinism and positivism. Other scholars who have visited this topic paint with much broader strokes. A great strength of this book is that Schwarcz teases apart the positions of the various players, examining the nuances that distinguish different lines of race thought. She has made a conscious effort to articulate the original contributions of Brazilians to the social construction of race that, by her estimate, occurred by the turn of the century. Another strength lies in her effort to take a comprehensive look at educated elites writing in different genres. Rather than isolating a single set of professionals, or concentrating on elites located in a single region of the country, she takes up the challenging task of reviewing extensive published materials across several disciplines. Through content analysis of journal articles, as well as close reading of editorials, theses, and treatises, she isolates the pivotal role of race in defining Brazil before and after emancipation (1888).

The materials used by Schwarcz are exceptionally rich. Whether analyzing natural history museums or institutes of history and geography, she can compare institutions founded in different cities to discern regional approaches to the meaning of miscegenation for Brazil. In her comparative profiles of the Goeldi Museum in Belém and the (new) National Museum in Rio, she reviews research efforts into physical anthropology as they relate to the perceived negative impact of Amerindians and Afro-Brazilians on the country’s ability to achieve sociocultural progress. She continues in the same style with her comparison of Brazil’s two law schools (at São Paulo and Recife) and two medical schools (at Bahia and Rio). She captures the individual approaches of different institutions through in-depth analyses of their respective journals and other publications that document the scholarly output each institution encouraged and found deserving. The jurists tended to view themselves as “masters in the process of civilization” (p. 233), and they repeatedly addressed issues of race and race-mixing as matters of penal law, criminal anthropology, and social policy. At the two medical schools, the physicians and medical students wrote regularly about race…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Indeed, several studies prove there to have been one distinguishing feature in Portuguese colonization: the incentive towards miscegenation

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2011-12-16 21:58Z by Steven

The “myth of racial democracy”, like the good myth it is, contains distortions in its much vaunted absolute equality, but does contain partial truths in indicating a singularity in the relationship between the races, mainly between races and culture. Indeed, several studies prove there to have been one distinguishing feature in Portuguese colonization: the incentive towards miscegenation, which was considered a strategic point of the settlement policy. This feature stands out even more when contrasted with other approaches to colonization—such as the American model—in which restrictive policies with regard to legalizing mixed marriages were adopted, or when one perceives similarities with former Portuguese colonies in Africa. But, one cannot forget, that was not just a question of character but a contextual question, connected with the lack of women involved in the Portuguese colonization. In my point of view that is not a question of defining the differences—cultural differences—or transforming it in fossilized parameters. It is not even a question of judging the models positively or negatively, but rather of reflecting on individual modes of discrimination, a Brazilian way of discriminating.

Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, “Not black, not white: just the opposite. Culture, race and national identity in Brazil,” Centre for Brazilian Studies, Working Paper Number CBS-47-03, (2003): 5.

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Not black, not white: just the opposite. Culture, race and national identity in Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Social Science on 2011-12-10 06:22Z by Steven

Not black, not white: just the opposite. Culture, race and national identity in Brazil

Centre for Brazilian Studies
University of Oxford
Working Paper Number CBS-47-03
52 pages

Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, Professor of Sociology
University of São Paulo, Brazil

The search to define Brazil and Brazilians by colour, more specifically by a miscegenation so extreme that it appears exceptional, is longstanding. Mid-nineteenth century naturalists that visited the country from Europe were astounded by the lush vegetation, the wide variety of fauna, and another phenomena – a type of unprecedented laboratory of humans and their various races. Local intellectuals also focused on the racial theme, but more as explanation for their perceptions of national degeneration than racial mixture. It is from these origins that debate reappears as an official model in the 1930s and persists until today in notions about what makes Brazil unique. After an introduction of this historical context, and rejecting the myth of racial democracy, this paper reflects on the impasses of race anew and from a different perspective attuned to contemporary problems. The central question that remains is whether race is a social and economic variable or whether Brazilian identities are dispersed across a wide rainbow of color. The goal of this paper is to use recent census and 1996 PNAD data that reveal 136 categories for Brazilians to identify several specific characteristics of this debate. This analysis implies a more political discussion of the limits of citizenship in a country where the color line is always viewed subjectively and contextually. The maxim of the sixteenth century Jesuit, Antonil, that “Brazil is hell for negros, purgatory for whites, and paradise for mulattos” still appears to resonate.

Read the entire paper here.

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A Mestizo and Tropical Country: The Creation of the Official Image of Independent Brazil

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Social Science on 2011-12-04 02:17Z by Steven

A Mestizo and Tropical Country: The Creation of the Official Image of Independent Brazil

European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Number 80 (April 2006) Constructing Ethnic Labels
pages 25-42

Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, Professor of Sociology
University of São Paulo, Brazil

The objective of this article is to consider how Brazil, in the first official images of it as a nation, was characterized by symbols that reflected its singularity and universality: a tropical monarchy with representations of indigenous peoples, flora and fauna mixed with the traditional elements of European monarchies. This makes use of original iconographic sources and texts emblematic of the Brazilian imperial period, which stretched from 1822 to 1889. There are hundreds of images, texts, coins, coats of arms, etc., that picture the country from the standpoint of miscegenation, while at the same time exposing a hierarchy of peoples: in a nation where 90 per cent of the population were African slaves, the selected national representation emphasized the environment of Brazil and its indigenous peoples.

In 1838, sixteen years after the political independence of Brazil, a new institution was created—the IHGB (Brazilian Historical and Geographic Institute)—dedicated to the drafting of a new historical agenda, one more clearly identified with the young country now emancipated from its former Portuguese metropolis. Even more interesting was its first open competition, organized in 1844, whose title, ‘How to write the History of Brazil’, already revealed the institution’s intentions. First prize went to the acclaimed German scientist Karl von Martius, who advocated the idea that the country should define itself through its unrivalled mix of peoples and colours: ‘The focal point for the historian ought to be to show how, in the development of Brazil, established conditions are to be found for the perfecting of the three human races, placed here side by side in a manner hitherto unknown’. Drawing upon the metaphor of the Portuguese heritage as a powerful river that should ‘absorb the streams of the races India and Ethiopica’, he envisaged the emergence of a Brazil characterized by its unique miscegenation. It is no accident that the then recently installed Brazilian monarchy invested so much in a tropical symbology that mixed the traditional elements of European monarchies with some indigenous peoples and a few Blacks, and included a lot of fruit. Though it was complicated to highlight the Black participation because of the memory of slavery, this did not prevent the royalty from painting a picture of a country characterized by its own distinct racial colouration.

And thus was provided a model through which to think ‘and invent’ a local history, one formed from the view of the foreigner and the good old rigmarole of the three races. The Empire was prodigious in the production of a series of official images linking the State with representations of a miscegenated nation. From the first engraving produced by the independent country—the ‘Stage Curtain’, painted by the French Neo-Classic artist Debret in 1822—up to the paintings celebrating abolition in 1888, the Empire took great care to produce a well-woven representation. There are hundreds of images, texts, coins, coats of arms, etc., that picture the country from the standpoint of miscegenation as much as they expose a hierarchy: in a nation where 90 per cent of the population were African slaves, the selected national representation emphasized nature and the indigenous peoples…

Read the entire article here.

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Talking About Brazil with Lilia Schwarcz

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Barack Obama, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, Women on 2011-07-27 23:23Z by Steven

Talking About Brazil with Lilia Schwarcz

The New York Review of Books

Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor of History
Harvard University

On a recent trip to Brazil, I struck up a conversation with Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, one of Brazil’s finest historians and anthropologists. The talk turned to the two subjects she has studied most—racism and national identity.
I first visited Brazil in 1989, when hyperinflation had nearly paralyzed the economy, favelas erupted in shoot-outs, and Lula, a hero of the union movement but still unsure of himself as a politician, was undertaking his first campaign for the presidency. I found it all fascinating and frightening. On my second trip, a few years later, I met Lilia and her husband, Luiz Schwarcz, who was beginning to build the company he had founded, Companhia das Letras, into one of the finest publishing houses in Latin America. They treated me to a day so packed with Braziliana that I remember it as one of the happiest experiences of my life: in the morning a stroll with their children through São Paulo’s main park, where families of all shades of color were picnicking and playing in dazzling sunlight; lunch, a tour of Brazilian specialties undreamt of in my culinary philosophy (but no pig’s ears or tails, it not being feijoada day); an international soccer match (Brazil beat Venezuela, and the stands exploded with joy); then countless caipirinhas and a cabaret-concert by Caetano Veloso at his most lyrical and politically provocative…

Since then I have never stopped marveling at the energy and originality of Brazilian culture. But I don’t pretend to understand it, all the more so as it is constantly changing, and I can’t speak Portuguese. I can only ask questions in English and strain to grasp the answers. Has the myth of Brazil as a “sleeping giant” turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy? “He has awoken,” people say today. The economy is booming, health services expanding, literacy improving. There are also prophecies of doom, because Brazil’s economic history looks like cycles of boom and bust imposed on centuries of slavery and pauperization. Still, Lula is completing a second and final term as president. Whatever Brazilians may think of his newly assertive foreign policy, which includes cultivating friendly relations with Iran (most of them don’t seem to be interested in it), they generally agree that he has managed the economy well and has done a great deal to improve the lot of the poor. Lula’s term will end in October, and he has thrown his support behind Dilma Rousseff, his former chief of staff, whose chances of winning are much bolstered by Lula’s own popularity. The first debate of the new presidential campaign, which took place on August 5, was a dignified affair—an indication, I was told, that democracy is healthy and the days of military coups are over. Now foreigners are asking new questions about the character of this new great power. I directed some of the FAQs at Lilia…

RD: Yes, like many New Yorkers, I have moments of fear when I get off the subway at the wrong station or wander too far from 125th Street. But when I visit Brazil, I like to think I am in a country that is coping successfully with its history of racism. Could Brazil evolve into a multi-nuanced mestizo society like the one imagined by the Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre?
LMS: Let me first ask you Bob, do you think of Obama as a “black President”? I am asking this question, because in Brazil the definition of color depends on the context, the moment and the temperament of the person who asks the question and responds to it.
RD: Ask any American, ask Obama himself, the answer will certainly be that he is black. In the US, despite the many varieties of skin color, we do not have a multi-nuanced notion of race. You are black or you are white or you are something not closely linked to color such as Chinese, Hispanic.
LMS: In Brazil, you are what you describe yourself to be. Officially we have five different colors—black, white, yellow, indigenous, and pardo (meaning “brown,” “brownish,” or “gray-brown”), but in reality, as research has demonstrated, we have more than 130 colors. Brazilians like to describe their spectrum of colors as a rainbow and we also think that color is a flexible way of categorizing people. For several years, I have been studying a soccer game called “Pretos X Brancos” (Blacks against whites), which takes place in a favela of São Paulo, called Heliópolis. In theory, it pits eleven white players against eleven black players. But, every year they change colors like they change socks or shirts—one year a player will choose to play for one team, the next year for the other, with the explanation that, “I feel more black,” or “I feel more white.” Also, in Brazil, if a person gets rich, he gets whiter. I recently talked with a dentist in Minas Gerais. As he is becoming old, his hair has turned white, and he is very well recognized in his little town. He started smoking cigars, joined the local Rotary Club, and said to me: “When I was black my life was really difficult.” So one can see how being white even nowadays is a powerful symbol. Here we have two sides of the same picture: on the one hand, identity is flexible; on the other hand, whiteness is ultimately what some people aspire to. But one aspect is common, the idea that you can manipulate your color and race…

Read the entire interview here.

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The Spectacle of the Races: Scientists, Institutions, and the Race Question in Brazil, 1870-1930

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, Social Work on 2011-07-27 22:44Z by Steven

The Spectacle of the Races: Scientists, Institutions, and the Race Question in Brazil, 1870-1930

Hill and Wang (an imprint of MacMillan)
September 1999
224 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches
ISBN: 978-0-8090-8789-1, ISBN10: 0-8090-8789-8

Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, Professor of Sociology
University of São Paulo, Brazil

Translated by Leland Guyer, Professor of Hispanic Studies
Macalester University, St. Paul, Minnesota

A provocative analysis of racial identity and nationhood.

“We are a half-breed country . . . We are half-breeds, if not in our blood, then at least in our souls.” With these words, the literary critic Silvio Romero summed up the impression of Brazil a century ago as a “festival of colors.” The spectacle of a mixed-race society in a world that prized racial purity was horrifying to European travelers as well as to Brazil’s intellectuals, who were soon crying out for “one hope, one solution: the whitening of the population within one century.”

But however attractive European notions of racial superiority might have been to Brazil’s elite, they were not easily adapted into the Brazilian context. In The Spectacle of the Races, Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, a leading cultural anthropologist and historian, shows how Brazil’s philosophers, politicians, and scientists gratefully accepted social Darwinist ideas about innate differences among the races yet could not condemn the miscegenation that had so long been an essential feature of Brazilian society-and was at the very heart of a new state-building project as the country modernized. Schwarcz shows how the work of these “men of science” became crucial to the development and survival of Brazil’s basic national structures, affecting the country’s destiny in ways that still apply today, when race remains the basis of Brazil’s self-image.

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