Lecture, forum at UH-Hilo to explore Filipino identity

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Live Events, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States on 2015-10-14 00:54Z by Steven

Lecture, forum at UH-Hilo to explore Filipino identity

Hawaii Tribune-Herald
Hilo, Hawaii

Dr. Ronald R. Sundstrom

Dr. Ronald Sundstrom, professor of philosophy at the University of San Francisco, will deliver a public lecture titled “The Filipino-American Experience and The Post-Racial State” from 4-5:30 p.m. Friday at the University of Hawaii at Hilo UCB 127.

The presentation, part of UH-Hilo’s Filipino-American Heritage Month events, is open to the public.

There also will be an academic forum titled “Knowledge, Power and Identity” from 11-11:50 a.m. Friday in UCB 111.

Dr. Celia Bardwell Jones, UH-Hilo philosophy professor, and the Filipino-American Heritage Month committee organized the academic forum and public lecture to tackle sensitive and provocative issues of Filipino identity.

Sundstrom comes from a mixed-race Filipino heritage and was born as a Filipino Amerasian child in Olongapo, Subic Bay. He later had to nationalize in order to claim his U.S. citizenship.

Additionally, he teaches for USF’s African-American studies program and the master of public affairs program for the Leo T. McCarthy Center of Public Service and the Common Good…

Read the entire article here.

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The Philosophy of Race

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, Social Science on 2012-11-28 17:05Z by Steven

The Philosophy of Race

1,584 pages
Hardback: 978-0-415-49602-5

Edited by:

Paul Taylor, Associate Professor of Philosophy; African American Studies
Pennsylvania State University

Since at least the early 1990s, philosophical race theory has emerged as a dynamic and fertile area of serious scholarly inquiry, and this new four-volume Major Work from Routledge meets the need for a comprehensive collection to facilitate ready access to the most influential and important foundational and cutting-edge scholarship.

Volume I (‘Philosophy and the History of Race, Race in the History of Philosophy’) brings together the key texts to have shaped the most widely recognized forms of ‘race thinking’. The second and third volumes in the collection, meanwhile, explore the questions that race raises in philosophy’s traditional subfields. Volume II (‘Racial Being and Knowing’) gathers the best and most influential work to unravel the implications of racial practices for metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology. And Volume III (‘Race-ing Beauty, Goodness, and Right’) collects the key scholarship to deal with the consequences of racial practices for aesthetics, ethics, and politics.

The final volume in the collection (‘Intersections and Positions’) assembles the most important work to grapple with the methodological and geographical complications that accompany a commitment to racialism. (Race is an inherently contextual phenomenon and some of the material gathered in this volume—in particular, that exploring racialization in Japan, Brazil, and Norway—provides a refreshing counterweight to the philosophical zeal for abstraction.)

The Philosophy of Race is edited by Paul C. Taylor, a leading scholar in the field. The collection is fully indexed and has a comprehensive introduction, newly written by the editor, which places the material in its intellectual and historic context. It is an essential work of reference and is destined to be valued by scholars and students as a vital one-stop research resource.


  • Volume I: HISTORY
    • Part 1: Philosophical Historiography
      • 1. Cornel West, ‘A Genealogy of Modern Racism’, Prophesy Deliverance! Towards an Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity (Westminster Press, 1982), pp. 47–68.
      • 2. Robert Bernasconi, ‘Race, Culture, History’ (plenary lecture at Sodertorn University, 28 May 2009), pp. 11–46.
      • 3. David Theo Goldberg, ‘The End(s) of Race’, Postcolonial Studies, 2004, 7, 2, 211–30.
    • Part 2: Early Figures and Moments
      • 4. Harry Bracken, ‘Philosophy and Racism’, Philosophia, 1978, 8, 2–3, 241–60.
      • 5. Richard Popkin, ‘Hume’s Racism Reconsidered’, The Third Force in Seventeenth-Century Thought (Brill, 1992), pp. 64–75.
      • 6. Meg Armstrong, ‘”The Effects of Blackness”: Gender, Race, and the Sublime in Aesthetic Theories of Burke and Kant’, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 1996, 54, 3, 213–36.
      • 7. Bernard Boxill and Thomas E. Hill, ‘Kant and Race’, in Bernard Boxill (ed.), Race and Racism (Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 448–71.
      • 8. Patricia Purtschert, ‘On the Limit of Spirit: Hegel’s Racism Revisited’, Philosophy & Social Criticism, 2010, 36, 9, 1039–51.
      • 9. Tom Jeannot, ‘Marx, Capitalism, and Race’, in Harry Van der Linden (ed.), Democracy, Racism, and Prisons (Philosophy Documentation Center, 2007), pp. 69–92.
    • Part 3: Late Modern Race Theory in/and the Canon
      • 10. Berel Lang, ‘Heidegger and the Jewish Question: Metaphysical Racism in Silence and Word’, in Julie K. Ward and Tommy L. Lott (eds.), Philosophers on Race: Critical Essays (Blackwell, 2002), pp. 205–21.
      • 11. Kathryn Gines, ‘Race Thinking and Racism in Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism’, in Dan Stone and Richard King (eds.), Imperialism, Slavery, Race, and Genocide: The Legacy of Hannah Arendt (Berghahn, 2007), pp. 38–53.
      • 12. Jonathan Judaken, ‘Sartre on Racism: From Existential Phenomenology to Globalization and “the New Racism”’, in Jonathan Judaken (ed.), Race After Sartre (SUNY Press, 2008), pp. 23–54.
    • Part 4: Critical Race Theory and the New Canon
      • 13. Diego von Vacano, ‘Race and Political Theory: Lessons from Latin America’, in Jorge Gracia (ed.), Race or Ethnicity? On Black and Latino Identity (Cornell University Press, 2007), pp. 248–66.
      • 14. Howard McGary, ‘Douglass on Racial Assimilation and Racial Institutions’, in Bill E. Lawson and Frank Kirkland (eds.), Frederick Douglass: A Critical Reader (Blackwell Publishing, 1999), pp. 50–63.
      • 15. Nancy Fraser, ‘Another Pragmatism: Alain Locke, Critical “Race” Theory, and the Politics of Culture’, in Morris Dickstein (ed.), The Revival of Pragmatism (Duke University Press, 1998), pp. 157–75.
      • 16. Vivian M. May, ‘Thinking from the Margins, Acting at the Intersections: Anna Julia Cooper’s A Voice from the South’, Hypatia, 2004, 19, 2, 74–91.
      • 17. K. A. Appiah, ‘The Uncompleted Argument: DuBois and the Illusion of Race’, Critical Inquiry, 1985, 12, 1, 21–37.
      • 18. W. E. B. Du Bois, Dusk of Dawn: An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept [1940] (Transaction Publishers, 1992), pp. 97–103, 114–17, 129–33, 137–40.
      • 19. Frantz Fanon, ‘The Lived Experience of the Black’, Black Skin, White Masks, trans. R. Philcox [1952] (Grove Press, 1967), pp. 78–99.
      • 20. Lewis R. Gordon, ‘Racism, Colonialism, and Anonymity: Social Theory and Embodied Agency’, Fanon and the Crisis of European Man: A Essay on Philosophy and the Human Sciences (Routledge, 1995), pp. 37–67.
  • Volume II: Racial Being and Knowing
    • Part 5: What Races Are, What ‘Race’ Means
      • 21. Charles W. Mills, ‘”But What Are You Really?” The Metaphysics of Race’, Blackness Visible: Essays on Philosophy and Race (Cornell University Press, 1998), pp. 41–66.
      • 22. Lucius Outlaw, ‘Conserve Races? In Defense of W. E. B. Du Bois’, Critical Social Theory in the Interests of Black Folks (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), pp. 139–62.
      • 23. Ron Mallon, ‘Passing, Traveling, and Reality: Social Construction and the Metaphysics of Race’, Nous, 2004, 38, 644–73.
      • 24. Robin O. Andreasen, ‘A New Perspective on the Race Debate’, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 1998, XLIX, 2, 199–225.
      • 25. Philip Kitcher, ‘Does “Race” have a Future?’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 2007, 35, 4, 293–317.
      • 26. David Theo Goldberg, Racist Culture (Blackwell, 1993), pp. 80–9.
      • 27. S. Haslanger, ‘Language, Politics and “the Folk”: Looking for “the Meaning” of “Race”’, The Monist, 2010, 93, 2, 169–87.
      • 28. Joshua Glasgow, Julie L. Shulman, and Enrique G. Covarrubias, ‘The Ordinary Conception of Race in the United States and its Relation to Racial Attitudes: A New Approach’, Journal of Cognition and Culture, 2009, 9, 1–2, 15–38.
    • Part 6: What Racial Identities Are
      • 29. Linda Martín-Alcoff, ‘Philosophy and Racial Identity’, Philosophy Today, 1997, 41, 1, 67–76.
      • 30. K. Anthony Appiah, ‘Synthesis: For Racial Identities’, Color Conscious (Princeton University Press, 1996), pp. 75–105.
      • 31. Judith Butler, ‘Passing, Queering: Nella Larsen’s Psychoanalytic Challenge’, Bodies That Matter (Routledge, 1993), pp. 167–86.
      • 32. Paul C. Taylor, Race: A Philosophical Introduction (Polity, 2004), pp. 84–7, 112–15.
    • Part 7: Power, Knowledge, Self-Knowledge, and Experience
      • 33. Charles Mills, ‘White Ignorance’, in Shannon Sullivan and Nancy Tuana (eds.), Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance (SUNY Press, 2007), pp. 11–38.
      • 34. Anika Maaza Mann, ‘Race and Feminist Standpoint Theory’, in Kathryn Gines, Donna Dale-Marcano, and Maria del Guadelupe Davidson, Convergences: Black Feminism and Continental Philosophy (SUNY Press, 2010), pp. 105–20.
      • 35. Shannon Sullivan, ‘Ignorance and Habit’, Revealing Whiteness (University of Indiana Press, 2006), pp. 17–44.
      • 36. Ned Block, ‘How Heritability Misleads About Race’, Boston Review, 1996, 20, 6, 30–35.
      • 37. Michael Root, ‘The Problem of Race in Medicine’, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 2001, 31, 1, 20–39.
      • 38. Ronald Sundstrom, ‘Race and Place: Social Space in the Production of Human Kinds’, Philosophy and Geography, 2003, 6, 1, 83–95.
  • Volume III: Race-ing Beauty, Goodness, and Right
    • Part 8: Racism
      • 39. Kwame Anthony Appiah, ‘Racisms’, in D. T. Goldberg (ed.), Anatomy of Racism (University of Minnesota Press, 1990), pp. 3–17.
      • 40. Lewis R. Gordon, ‘Racialism, Racism, Racialists, Racists’, Bad Faith and Anti-Black Racism (Humanity Books, 1999), pp. 67–77.
      • 41. J. L. A. Garcia, ‘The Heart of Racism’, Journal of Social Philosophy, 1996, 2, 5–45.
      • 42. Tommie Shelby, ‘Is Racism in the Heart?’, Journal of Social Philosophy, 2002, 33, 411–20.
      • 43. L. Faucher and E. Machery, ‘Racism: Against Jorge Garcia’s Moral and Psychological Monism’, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 2009, 39, 1, 41–62.
      • 44. Robert Bernasconi, ‘The Policing of Race Mixing: The Place of Biopower within the History of Racisms’, Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 2010, 7, 2, 205–16.
    • Part 9: Race, the Right, and the Good
      • 45. Charles W. Mills, The Racial Contract (Cornell University Press, 1997), pp. 1–19.
      • 46. Anna Stubblefield, ‘Races as Families’, Journal of Social Philosophy, 2001, 32, 1, 99–112.
      • 47. L. Blum, ‘Three Kinds of Race-Related Solidarity’, Journal of Social Philosophy, 2007, 38, 53–72.
      • 48. Linda Martín Alcoff, ‘Latino/as, Asian Americans, and the Black-White Binary’, Journal of Ethics, 2003, 7, 1, 5–27.
      • 49. Howard McGary, ‘Psychological Violence, Physical Violence, and Racial Oppression’, in Lewis R. Gordon (ed.), Existence in Black: An Anthology of Black Existential Philosophy (Routledge, 1996), pp. 263–72.
      • 50. Samantha Vice, ‘How Do I Live in This Strange Place?’, Journal of Social Philosophy, 2010, 41, 3, 323–42.
    • Part 10: Selected Issues in Racial Politics
      • 51. Richard Wasserstrom, ‘Preferential Treatment, Color-Blindness, and the Evils of Racism and Racial Discrimination’, Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, 1987, 61, 1, 27–42.
      • 52. Howard McGary, ‘Achieving Democratic Equality: Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Reparations’, Journal of Ethics, 2003, 7, 1, 93–113.
      • 53. Angela Y. Davis, ‘Racialized Punishment and Prison Abolition’, in Tommy L. Lott (ed.), A Companion to African-American Philosophy (Blackwell Publishing, 2003), pp. 360–9.
      • 54. Glen Coulthard, ‘Subjects of Empire: Indigenous Peoples and the “Politics of Recognition”’, Contemporary Political Theory, 2007, 6, 4, 437–60.
    • Part 11: Aesthetics
      • 55. Monique Roelofs, ‘Racialization as an Aesthetic Production: What Does the Aesthetic Do for Whiteness and Blackness and Vice Versa?’, in George Yancy (ed.), White on White/Black on Black (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), pp. 83–124.
      • 56. Dan Flory, ‘Spike Lee and the Sympathetic Racist’, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 2006, 64, 1, 67–79.
      • 57. Mariana Ortega, ‘Othering the Other: The Spectacle of Katrina for our Racial Entertainment Pleasure’, Contemporary Aesthetics, 2009, 2.
      • 58. Robert Gooding-Williams, ‘Aesthetics and Receptivity: Kant, Nietzsche, Cavell, Astaire’, Look, a Negro! Philosophical Essays on Race, Culture and Politics (Routledge, 2006), pp. 43–68.
      • 59. Falguni A. Sheth, ‘The Hijab and the Sari: The Strange and the Sexy Between Colonialism and Global Capitalism’, Contemporary Aesthetics, 2009, 2.
  • Volume IV: Intersections and Positions
    • Part 12: Intersectionality
      • 60. Nira Yuval-Davis, ‘Intersectionality, Citizenship and Contemporary Politics of Belonging’, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 2007, 10, 4, 561–74.
      • 61. Patricia Hill Collins, ‘It’s All in the Family: Intersections of Gender, Race, and Nation’, Hypatia, 1998, 13, 3, 62–82.
      • 62. Jorge J. E. Gracia, ‘The Nature of Ethnicity with Special Reference to Hispanic/Latino Identity’, Public Affairs Quarterly, 1999, 13, 1, 25–42.
      • 63. Ladelle McWhorter, ‘Sex, Race, and Biopower: A Foucauldian Genealogy’, Hypatia, 2004, 19, 3, 38–62.
      • 64. Stuart Hall, ‘Race, Articulation and Societies Structured in Dominance’, Sociological Theories: Race and Colonialism (UNESCO, 1980), pp. 305–45.
      • 65. Étienne Balibar, ‘Uprisings in the Banlieues’, Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory, 2007, 14, 1, 47–71.
    • Part 13: Mapping Racial Imaginaries: Inventing the Other
      • 66. Edward Said, ‘Introduction to Orientalism’, in Moustafa Bayoumi and Andrew Rubin (eds.), The Edward Said Reader (Vintage, 2000), pp. 67–74, 78–81, 90–3.
      • 67. David Haekwon Kim, ‘Orientalism and America Enlarged’, Newsletter on Asian and Asian-American Philosophers and Philosophies, 2003, 2, 2, 30–4.
      • 68. V. Y. Mudimbe, ‘Discourse of Power and Knowledge of Otherness’, The Invention of Africa (Indiana University Press, 1988), pp. 1–23.
      • 69. Mahmood Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers (Princeton University Press, 2001), pp. 41, 56–9, 73–5, 80–90, 98–102.
      • 70. David Theo. Goldberg, ‘Racial Europeanization’, Ethnic & Racial Studies, 2006, 29, 2, 331–64.
      • 71. Nadia Abu El-Haj, ‘Racial Palestinianization and the Janus-Faced Nature of the Israeli State’, Patterns of Prejudice, 2010, 44, 1, 27–41.
    • Part 14: Positioning Critical Identities: Inventing Self and Community
      • 72. Sonia Sikka, ‘In What Sense are Dalits Black?’ (presentation to ‘Beyond the White–Black Binary’, conference held at Pennsylvania State University, 12 November 2010).
      • 73. Linda Martín Alcoff, ‘Mestizo Identity’, in Naomi Zack (ed.), American Mixed Race: The Culture of Microdiversity (Rowman and Littlefield, 1995), pp. 257–78.
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The Browning of America and the Evasion of Social Justice

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Philosophy, United States on 2012-08-26 01:54Z by Steven

The Browning of America and the Evasion of Social Justice

SUNY Press
October 2008
200 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-7914-7585-0
Paperback ISBN-13: 978-0-7914-7586-7

Ronald R. Sundstrom,Professor of Philosophy
University of San Francisco

Considers the effects of the browning of America on philosophical debates over race, racism, and social justice.

This book considers the challenge that the so-called browning of America poses for any discussion of the future of race and social justice. In the philosophy of race there has been little reflection about how the rapid increase in the Latino, Asian American, and mixed-race populations affects the historical demands for racial justice by Native Americans and African Americans. Ronald R. Sundstrom examines how recent demographic shifts bear upon central questions in race theory and social and political philosophy, including color blindness, interracial intimacy, and the future of race.

Sundstrom cautions that rather than getting caught up in romantic reveries about the browning of America, we should remain vigilant that longstanding claims for racial justice not be washed away.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. Frederick Douglass’s Political Apostasy
  • 2. Color Blindness and the Browning of America
  • 3. The Black-White Binary as Racial Anxiety and Demand for Justice
  • 4. Interracial Intimicies: Racism and the Political Romance of the Browning of America
  • 5. Responsible Multiracial Politics
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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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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Laughing To Keep From Crying: Resisting “Race” Through Irony

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Philosophy on 2010-09-06 20:59Z by Steven

Laughing To Keep From Crying: Resisting “Race” Through Irony

Tympanum: A Journal of Comparative Literary Studies
Number 4, (2000)
issn# 1522-7723

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

He wanted to rise-a malicious, ironic voice insisted that he rise-and, at once, to leave this temple and go out into the world.

“Race,” whatever it may be, is something that we are not yet done with. We may never be done with it. It may be a category that we will always be present in some form or another in our societies. Or, it may be the case that the category is on the verge of extinction, and that it will fade as its social usefulness, importance, and its descriptive and explanatory power fades. Whatever its future is, a case can be made that at present “race” is descriptive of social life and organization in the U.S., as well as other parts of the globe. This is a descriptive, and not a normative claim.

As a human category “race” is invaluable part our attempts to explain and understand the history and realities of oppression, bigotry, and violence in the U.S. Deprived of the use of “race” as a social category, the social sciences would not be able to provide nuanced and insightful explanations of U.S. history and this society’s social landscape. This history and social landscape is what I refer to as the American “racial” politic. In addition plays a role in our attempts to organize communities in our struggle to redress “racial” wrongs, and to end racism and “racial” oppression. For the limited purposes of social science and politics, “race” is legitimate and ought to be conserved. That “race” is useful, descriptive, or explanatory now is not to say that will always be true. The future of “race” is going to be determined by future forms of social organization. What I have argued for above is a pragmatic and limited role for race.

A pragmatic and limited role for “race,” however, does not placate those, like myself, who are leery of it. The conservation of “race,” in any form, is worrisome. Social identities are powerful elements of our social worlds. They are thickly wrapped in complicated and often troublesome histories. Their durations and the twists and turns they make through our worlds during their tenures are unpredictable. Such is the case with “race.” The history of “race” in the U.S. is soaked in blood. Yet, and for good reasons, “race” is the centerpiece of identity for many individuals and communities. Still, worries and doubts remain about the social utility of “race.”…

Read the entire essay 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.

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