Philosophy and the Mixed Race Experience

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Media Archive, Philosophy on 2016-01-16 15:44Z by Steven

Philosophy and the Mixed Race Experience

Rowman & Littlefield
January 2016
350 pages
Size: 6 x 9
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-4985-0942-8
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4985-0943-5
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4985-0944-2

Edited by:

Tina Fernandes Botts, Visiting Professor of Philosophy
Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio

Philosophy and the Mixed Race Experience is a collection of essays by mixed race philosophers about the mixed race experience. Each essay is meant to represent one of three possible things: (1) what the philosopher sees as the philosopher’s best work, (2) evidence of the possible impact of the philosopher’s mixed race experience on the philosopher’s work, or (3) the philosopher’s philosophical take on the mixed race experience. The book has two goals: (1) to collect together for the first time the work of professional, academic philosophers who have had the mixed race experience, and (2) to bring these essays together for the purpose of adding to the conversation on the question of the degree to which factical identity (that is, situated, phenomenological experience) and philosophical work may be related (i.e., in terms of theme, method, assumptions, traditions, etc.).

Table of Contents

  • Foreword, by Linda Martín Alcoff
  • Editor’s Introduction: Toward a Mixed Race Theory, by Tina Fernandes Botts
  • Part 1: Mixed Race Political Theory
    • Chapter 1: Responsible Multiracial Politics, with a new postscript, by Ronald Robles Sundstrom
    • Chapter 2: Mixed Race Identity in Britain: Finding Our Roots in the Post Racial Era, by Gabriella Beckles-Raymond
  • Part 2: Mixed Race Metaphilosophy
    • Chapter 3: Through the Looking Glass: What Philosophy Looks Like from the Inside When You’re Not Quite There, by Marina Oshana
    • Chapter 4: Being and Not Being, Knowing and Not Knowing, by Jennifer Lisa Vest
    • Chapter 5: A Mixed Race (Philosophical) Experience, by Tina Fernandes Botts
  • Part 3: Mixed Race Ontology
    • Chapter 6: The Fluid Symbol of Mixed Race, by Naomi Zack
    • Chapter 7: On Being Mixed, by Linda Martín Alcoff
    • Chapter 8: Race and Ethnic Identity, by J.L.A. Garcia
  • Part 4: Mixed Race and Major Figures
    • Chapter 9: Through a Glass, Darkly: A Mixed-Race Du Bois, by Celena Simpson
    • Chapter 10: German Chocolate: Why Philosophy is So Personal, by Timothy J. Golden
  • Part 5: Mixed Race Ethics
    • Chapter 11: Who is Afraid of Racial and Ethnic Self-Cleansing? In Defense of the Virtuous Cosmopolitan, by Jason D. Hill
  • Afterword, by Naomi Zack
  • Epilogue, by Tina Fernandes Botts
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Responsible Mixed Race Politics

Posted in Identity Development/Psychology, Live Events, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Philosophy, United States on 2011-05-11 03:42Z by Steven

Responsible Mixed Race Politics

How do identities matter?
Stanford University

Presentation by:

Ronald Sundstrom, Associate Professor of African American Studies
University of San Francisco

The harshest critics of mixed-race have claimed that the identity is self-indulgent and irresponsible, because it evades or, worse, is complicit in racism. Such strident condemnations of mixed-race identity are dogmatic and uncharitable. In “Being & Being Mixed Race,” I argued that mixed-race is a real social identity and that it need not be morally illegitimate. In this essay I return to the topic of the relationship between mixed-race identity and politics and the dynamics of racism. There are disturbing trends in mixed-race literature and organizations that precisely are irresponsible in the way critics of the mixed-race movement have asserted. I criticize these developments, and counter that mixed-race individuals and groups have a special obligation to resist racism and to refuse the “wages of whiteness” that accrue from their mixed-race status. Although all persons have a moral obligation to reject and resist racism, mixed-race individuals and groups have special obligations that are based on their own experience of race and racism, and their place in the history and experience of race and racism in America. Just as mixed-race persons argue that they are morally obligated to remember and affirm their complex family histories-to not forget their mothers-they have an equal obligation to remember the significance of their personal history in the history of race in America: we have an equal obligation to the memories of our grandmothers.

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Linda Martín-Alcoff: Visible Identities: Race, Gender and the Self [Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Latino Studies, Philosophy on 2011-05-11 03:33Z by Steven

Linda Martín-Alcoff: Visible Identities: Race, Gender and the Self [Review]

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Linda Martín-Alcoff, Visible Identities: Race, Gender and the Self, Oxford University Press, 2006, 326pp., ISBN 0195137353.

Ronald Sundstrom, Associate Professor of African American Studies
University of San Francisco

Linda Martín Alcoff’s book, Visible Identities, offers a conception of social identities that collects together her work on the metaphysics, epistemology, and politics of ethnicity, race, and gender. The idea of visibility has a unifying role in Alcoff’s metaphysical and epistemological account of those social identities. Likewise, visible is what social identities should be in Alcoff’s vision of political life. Visible identities, according to Alcoff, are a resource in a pluralistic democracy, and are not to be eschewed for a simple American identity beyond hyphens, race, ethnicity, and gender difference. That political point is the fundamental point of this book, and it is delivered through Alcoff’s metaphysical analysis of race, ethnicity, and gender.

Alcoff’s attempt to make a political argument through metaphysical analysis immediately calls to mind the distinction between those two areas of inquiry and their presumed separateness. Richard Rorty captured this distinction by framing it in terms of the two questions “what are we?” and “who are we?” The first question is concerned with metaphysics, while the latter is political. The “who are we?” question seeks to discover some unifying thing or idea that, in Rorty’s words, “makes us less like a mob and more like an army.” Rorty’s point, in part, was that those questions were distinct and that an answer to the first did not determine the answer to the second. Answers to the “who” question are always hopeful, for they point to not what we are but who we hope to be. Thus, the political question is a constituting one that points to an ongoing formative project, and it requires the political community to work through time to achieve their collective ideal identity. Who the US should hope to be, according to Rorty, is a nation that “achieves” its constitutional ideals by learning the necessary lessons from the Civil Rights and Feminist movements, yet not losing focus on the political process of building a national moral community that takes primary pride in its collective national identity.

Alcoff would disagree with the completeness of the distinction that Rorty drew. She argues in Visible Identities that “what” we are, as well as “where” we are—in terms of our social location—has political implications, although not the deterministic implications that racial nationalists would desire. Furthermore, she clearly disagrees with the condition regarding identity that is required by Rorty’s great left liberal hope: that strongly felt identities be put aside in favor of a unifying national identity…

…Other features of Alcoff’s account of social identities are familiar ideas in debates about the metaphysics of social identities. She defends a dialogical account of the self that incorporates her use of hermeneutics and phenomenology, and argues that individuals participate in multiple and hybrid identities. Of course, the familiarity of the latter idea is due in no small part to the influence that her essay “Mestizo Identity” has had on race theory. That essay is renamed, “On Being Mixed,” and is the twelfth chapter of Visible Identities. The upshot of these features of her account is to further weaken the three objections she analyzes, especially the assumption that such identities lead to narrow, isolated, and separated self-conceptions that undermine national political life…

…Alcoff’s account of identity exposes important features of “visible identities” that make them radically particular experiences. While she places the social identities she analyzes within the context of group interaction, her emphasis on hybridity and multiplicity allows for enough divergence so that three problems with identity are avoided. This feature of her account is developed in her discussion of mixed race and mestizo identity. She also, however, reminds us that these complex and radically particular identities have historically served as points of political organization, and argues that they should engender larger political participation. Alcoff develops this line of thought in the first chapter, as well as in her chapters on Latino and mixed race identity. In that analysis she avoids, however, the dangers of the institutionalization of those identities, which precisely lead to critiques of identity politics. Groups become centers of power that seek social reproduction and offer measures to encourage loyalty, compel membership, and exclude those who exercise their individual autonomy by not conforming to the group’s will. They seek to suppress the very multiplicity and hybridity which Alcoff depends upon to save identity from the criticisms of liberals. For the sake of their own visibility, groups engender the invisibility of other embodied identities…

Read the entire review here.

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The Browning of America and the Evasion of Social Justice (Review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Law, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2009-08-14 18:53Z by Steven

The Browning of America and the Evasion of Social Justice (Review)
by Ronald R. Sundstrom

SUNY Press
2008, 190pp., $24.95 (pbk.)
ISBN: 9780791475867

Notre Dame Philisophical Reviews

Reviewed by Lucius T. Outlaw (Jr.)
Vanderbilt University

The United States is undergoing the most profound demographic changes in the country’s history so that in a few decades, if not sooner, persons identified (and identifying themselves) as white and tracing their ancestry to Europe will have become part of the nation’s racial and ethnic plurality, no longer its numerically dominant racial group. This historic development portends others equally historic and transformative, among these the gradual — possibly even dramatic — displacement of white people as the dominating group politically, economically, socially, even culturally…

…Some persons envision a United States no longer ordered by racial or ethnic considerations, where color-consciousness has been dissipated by practicing color-blindness, and by the demographic predominance of “brown” Americans to such an extent that the sorting of persons into hierarchically valued, color-coded racial and ethnic groups will not have a demographic basis.  Such was the wish of Frederick Douglass: that the nation’s racial population groups would intermingle and interbreed — in his words “amalgamate’ — to such an extent that a new “blended” race, neither black nor white, would emerge and rescue our country from the scourge of color-conscious, color-valuing racialisms and racisms…

…In the midst of all of the many aspects of invidious racial and ethnic oppressions that have been devised and practiced across the history of the United States, the aspect most sensitive and productive of the most grotesque violence has been that having to do with the most intimate and consequential of human involvements: intimate relations, intimate sexual relations especially, between persons of different and differently ranked racial groups. These are subjects, Sundstrom argues, that have been systematically avoided by contemporary thinkers who wrestle with race matters. He would have us stop avoiding the subject, not least because of the foundational importance of intimate relations for the formation and continuation of polities. Without such relationships, there can be no polities. There can be no resolution of our racial and ethnic difficulties without being forthright about intimate and sexual interracial matters.  These, argues Sundstrom, must not be relegated to the realm of privacy and thus put off limits to philosophers and theorists of the social and political. Moreover, he would not have these matters be wedded to the “browning of America” as their presumed resolution, as Frederick Douglass had hoped out of anguished alienation and desperation. Chapter four, “Interracial Intimacies: Racism and the Political Romance of the Browning of America” is required reading for us all, if social justice is not to be evaded.

So, too, chapter 5, “Responsible Multiracial Politics”. Here the reader will experience, as well as come to understand, the personal existential weight and philosophical significance for Sundstrom of political endeavours for persons whose identities are neither easily nor accurately given fulfilling, coherent, authentic, and healthy articulation and lived-experience if forced into a seemingly singular, unitary, and thus supposedly harmonious racial designation. Persons who are descendants of multiracial, multiethnic unions — even when the races and ethnic groups are understood as social, rather than biological, constructs — need the terms and concepts by which they can identify, identify with, and live their important various heritages, by which they can, in all appropriate instances, ‘remember their grandmothers’.  Needed, too, are modes of politics that sanction and nurture this important existential work as another crucial aspect of multiracial, multiethnic democratic polities, modes of politics by which persons of complex identities can be made ready for and welcomed to shared and responsible political life.  Social justice without evasion…

Read the entire review here.

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Mixed-Race Looks

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Philosophy, Social Science on 2009-07-31 01:56Z by Steven

Mixed-Race Looks

Contemporary Asthetics
Special Volume 2, 2009

Ronald Sundstrom, Associate Professor of African American Studies
University of San Francisco

The multiracial population is growing larger and so is popular awareness about multiracial or mixed-race identity. Simmering beneath the growing public recognition of multiracial identity are questions about the legitimacy of mixed race, multiracial, or biracial as social categories, and further questions about the ethics and politics of those identities. Behind some of these questions are worries about how multiracial identity interacts with racialized aesthetic standards. This essay addresses these issues by investigating whether those affirmations are racist and betray monoracial groups. This essay concludes that such affirmations are not necessarily racist or traitorous. Instead, they are consistent with modern expressions of individuality, and arise from self-assertions of personal authenticity and autonomy. All the same, these affirmations and assertions do risk participating in, and contributing to, racist aesthetic standards. The arguments presented in this essay are part of a broader project on mixed race and the ethics of identity.

Read the entire article here.

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