The Uproar Over ‘Transracialism’

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-18 19:53Z by Steven

The Uproar Over ‘Transracialism’

The New York Times
2017-05-18

Rogers Brubaker, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Los Angeles


Rachel Dolezal in 2015. The controversy over her choice to identify as black has lingered.
Credit Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review, via Associated Press

Rogers Brubaker is a sociology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author, most recently, of “Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities.”

The world of academic philosophy is ordinarily a rather esoteric one. But Rebecca Tuvel’s article “In Defense of Transracialism,” published in the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia this spring, has generated a broad public discussion.

Dr. Tuvel was prompted to write her article by the controversy that erupted when Rachel Dolezal, the former local N.A.A.C.P. official who had long presented herself as black, was revealed to have grown up white. The Dolezal story broke just 10 days after Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair debut, and the two discussions merged. If Ms. Jenner could identify as a woman, could Ms. Dolezal identify as black? If transgender was a legitimate social identity, might transracial be as well? Dr. Tuvel’s article subjected these public debates to philosophical scrutiny.

The idea of transracialism had been rejected out of hand by the cultural left. Some worried — as many cultural conservatives indeed hoped — that this seemingly absurd idea might undermine the legitimacy of transgender claims. Others argued that if self-identification were to replace ancestry or phenotype as the touchstone of racial identity, this would encourage “racial fraud” and cultural appropriation. Because race has always been first and foremost an externally imposed classification, it is understandable that the idea of people declaring themselves transracial struck many as offensively dismissive of the social realities of race…

Read the entire article here.

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The Philosophy Of Multiracial Identity Vs. The Cult Of Antiracism

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-05 22:57Z by Steven

The Philosophy Of Multiracial Identity Vs. The Cult Of Antiracism

The Daily Caller
2017-05-03

Charles Michael Byrd, Freelance Writer
Queens, New York

Born the illegitimate, white-looking son of a dark-skinned woman in a small Virginia town in the 1950s, I squandered countless years wandering in the darkest mental ignorance before ultimately discovering that my atma-dharma (the natural devotional inclination of the soul or atma) or purpose on this planet was not to be a loyal servant to racial identity politics. Our eternal atma-dharma has nothing to do with the dharma of body, dynasty, caste or race. Those falsely identifying the body as the real self cannot fathom this.

That racial inheritance made me keenly aware, however, of the struggles multiracials endure regarding personal identification in a society that has only grudgingly begun publicly accepting the notion of hybridity. Even Barack Obama spent eight years on the global stage identifying exclusively as black, although the entire world knew of his white mother.

Against that backdrop, critics deride as naive post-racialism the notion that multiracial self-identification on the part of an ever increasing number of people may be, as the late mixed-race poet, novelist and philosopher Jean Toomer opined, “the turning point for the return of mankind, now divided into hostile races, to one unified race, namely, to the human race.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Death of Race: Building a New Christianity in a Racial World

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Philosophy, Religion on 2017-05-04 20:42Z by Steven

The Death of Race: Building a New Christianity in a Racial World

Fortress Press
2016-11-01
182 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9781506408880
Ebook ISBN: 9781506408897
5.50 x 8.50

Brian Bantum, Associate Professor of Theology
Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, Washington

Brian Bantum says that race is not merely an intellectual category or a biological fact. Much like the incarnation, it is a “word made flesh,” the confluence of various powers that allow some to organize and dominate the lives of others. In this way, racism is a deeply theological problem, one that is central to the Christian story and one that plays out daily in the United States and throughout the world.

In The Death of Race, Bantum argues that our attempts to heal racism will not succeed until we address what gives rise to racism in the first place: a fallen understanding of our bodies that sees difference as something to resist, defeat, or subdue. Therefore, he examines the question of race, but through the lens of our bodies and what our bodies mean in the midst of a complicated, racialized world, one that perpetually dehumanizes dark bodies, thereby rendering all of us less than God’s intention.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Race Is a Story Written on My Body
  • 2. Bodies Matter
  • 3. Naked and Ashamed
  • 4. This Is My Body, Born for You
  • 5. Jesus Walks
  • 6. Jesus Makes Us Free to Become Like Mary
  • 7. Race Must Die
  • 8. There Is Life in the Tomb
  • Epilogue
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Should I Get a Pet From a No-Kill Shelter?

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-04 02:54Z by Steven

Should I Get a Pet From a No-Kill Shelter?

The Ethicist
The New York Times Magazine
2017-04-26

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Philosophy, Law
New York University

…My mother is from Central America. She came to the United States for college and met my American father. I am, therefore, 50 percent Latino genetically, but I don’t identify as Latino. There were (to my regret) no Central American influences in my upbringing — no Spanish language, no Latino relatives, no foods from “the old country.” There was also no discrimination directed at me or my mother (we look “white”). Is it ethical to identify as Latino in social situations and on the census? Name Withheld

Our ethnic and racial categories drape loosely around the realities of our complex lives. I am the son of an English woman and a Ghanaian man. I am an American citizen. Am I a black American? African-American? Anglo-American? Anglo-African? “Latino” is a word that hovers uneasily between a category defined by culture and one defined by descent. The latter conception makes you Latino. The former doesn’t quite. There’s also a notion that ethnicity should be defined by your own sense of identity — by whether you think of yourself as Latino. But whether you think of yourself as Latino is shaped by ideas about culture and descent. There isn’t a single correct view about that. Still, here’s a solution: In cases in which you don’t have the time or space to explain your situation, probably the least confusing thing to say to people in the United States is that your mother is Latina. (As far as forms go, if they permit you to check two boxes, I’d do that. If they don’t, I don’t believe it matters much what you do.).

Read the entire article here.

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This Is What a Modern-Day Witch Hunt Looks Like

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-04 01:53Z by Steven

This Is What a Modern-Day Witch Hunt Looks Like

New York Magazine
Daily Intelligencer
2017-05-02

Jesse Singal


Rebecca Tuvel, a philosophy professor and the target of a protracted online pile-on.

In late March, Hypatia, a feminist-philosophy journal, published an article titled “In Defense of Transracialism” by Rebecca Tuvel, an assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis, as part of its spring 2017 issue. The point of the article, as the title suggests, is to toy around with the question of what it would mean if some people really were — as Rachel Dolezal claimed — “transracial,” meaning they identified as a race that didn’t line up with how society viewed them in light of their ancestry.

Tuvel structures her argument more or less as follows: (1) We accept the following premises about trans people and the rights and dignity to which they are entitled; (2) we also accept the following premises about identities and identity change in general; (3) therefore, the common arguments against transracialism fail, and we should accept that there’s little apparent logically coherent reason to deny the possibility of genuine transracialism.

Anyone who has read an academic philosophy paper will be familiar with this sort of argument. The goal, often, is to provoke a little — to probe what we think and why we think it, and to highlight logical inconsistencies that might help us better understand our values and thought processes. This sort of article is abstract and laden with hypotheticals — the idea is to pull up one level from the real world and force people to grapple with principles and claims on their own merits, rather than — in the case of Dolezal — baser instincts like disgust and outrage. This is what many philosophers do…

Read the entire article here.

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In Defense of Transracialism

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-04 01:28Z by Steven

In Defense of Transracialism

Hypatia: A Journal Of Feminist Philosophy
Volume 32, Issue 2 (Spring 2017)
Pages 263–278
DOI: 10.1111/hypa.12327

Rebecca Tuvel, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee

Former NAACP chapter head Rachel Dolezal’s attempted transition from the white to the black race occasioned heated controversy. Her story gained notoriety at the same time that Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner graced the cover of Vanity Fair, signaling a growing acceptance of transgender identity. Yet criticisms of Dolezal for misrepresenting her birth race indicate a widespread social perception that it is neither possible nor acceptable to change one’s race in the way it might be to change one’s sex. Considerations that support transgenderism seem to apply equally to transracialism. Although Dolezal herself may or may not represent a genuine case of a transracial person, her story and the public reaction to it serve helpful illustrative purposes.

Read or purchase the article here.

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After Trump

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Philosophy, Religion, United States, Virginia on 2017-03-16 20:04Z by Steven

After Trump

Boston Review: A Political and Literary Forum
2016-11-22

Christopher Petrella, Lecturer in the Humanities and the Associate Director of Equity and Diversity
Bates College, Lewiston, Maine

In November 2015 Donald Trump was asked on the campaign trail if he would require Muslim U.S. citizens to register with the Department of Homeland Security. “Absolutely,” Trump said, “they have to be.” Trump and his team had been mum on the issue until last week when a number of prominent surrogates and advisers—including incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Trump’s immigration adviser Kris Kobach—mused, seemingly as a test balloon, that the administration is “not going to rule out anything” and that a registry of Muslims entering the country would pass constitutional muster. One member of Trump’s team went as far as citing the 1942–45 internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II as a “precedent.” (Both statements were hedged with qualifications that made them no less worrisome.)

Since then, many commentators have roundly condemned the idea of a Muslim registry—not to mention citing the internment of Japanese-Americans as a precedent for anything except that which we must avoid repeating. Few have offered deeper historical examinations , though, that would suggest that the registration of Japanese-Americans and their subsequent movement to concentration camps were not really aberrations in American history. On the contrary, racial and ethnic registries and immigration quota systems have long been integral to America’s approach to regulating the freedom, movement, and rights of non-whites. Two pieces of legislation passed in the same year nearly a century ago—one federal, one in the state of Virginia—reflect the recurrent appeal in the United States of laws aimed at protecting the racial purity of whatever is indexed in a given moment as best representing American nationalism…

…In the same year as the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, the Commonwealth of Virginia passed its Racial Integrity Act, originally drafted as “A Bill for the Preservation of the White Race.” The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 explicitly forbade miscegenation—that is, “race mixing through marriage and fornication”—on the basis that such practices would “pollute [the nation] with mixed-blood offspring.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Social Construction and Achieving Reference

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Philosophy on 2017-03-13 18:39Z by Steven

Social Construction and Achieving Reference

Noûs
Volume 51, Issue 1 (March 2017)
pages 113-131
DOI: 10.1111/nous.12107

Ron Mallon, Professor of Philosophy
Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri

One influential view is that at least some putatively natural human kinds are actually social constructions, understood as some real kind of thing that is produced or sustained by our social and conceptual practices. Category constructionists share two commitments: they hold that human category terms like “race” (and racial terms) and “sex” (and sexual terms) and “homosexuality” and “perversion” actually refer to constructed categories, and they hold that these categories are widely but mistakenly taken to be natural kinds. But it is far from clear that these two commitments are consistent. The sort of mismatch between belief and underlying nature constructionists’ suppose is often taken to indicate a failure of reference. Reliance on a causal-historical account of reference allows the preservation of reference, but unfortunately, constructionists’ appropriation of causal historical accounts of reference is beset by difficulties that do not attend natural kind theorists’ appeals to such accounts. Here, I set out these difficulties, but argue that they can be answered, allowing terms for apparently natural human kinds refer to some sort of social construction about which there is massive error.

Read the entire article here.

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Cultural Studies 1983: A Theoretical History

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Philosophy on 2016-12-23 00:59Z by Steven

Cultural Studies 1983: A Theoretical History

Duke University Press
2016
232 pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6248-7
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8223-6263-0

Stuart Hall (1932–2014)

Edited by:

Jennifer Daryl Slack, Professor of Communication and Cultural Studies
Michigan Technological University

Lawrence Grossberg, Morris David Distinguished Professor of Communication and Cultural Studies
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

The publication of Cultural Studies 1983 is a touchstone event in the history of Cultural Studies and a testament to Stuart Hall’s unparalleled contributions. The eight foundational lectures Hall delivered at the University of Illinois in 1983 introduced North American audiences to a thinker and discipline that would shift the course of critical scholarship. Unavailable until now, these lectures present Hall’s original engagements with the theoretical positions that contributed to the formation of Cultural Studies. Throughout this personally guided tour of Cultural Studies’ intellectual genealogy, Hall discusses the work of Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams, and E. P. Thompson; the influence of structuralism; the limitations and possibilities of Marxist theory; and the importance of Althusser and Gramsci. Throughout these theoretical reflections, Hall insists that Cultural Studies aims to provide the means for political change.

Table of Contents

  • Editor’s Introduction / Lawrence Grossberg and Jennifer Daryl Slack
  • Preface to the Lectures by Stuart Hall, 1988
  • Lecture 1. The Formation of Cultural Studies
  • Lecture 2. Culturalism
  • Lecture 3. Structuralism
  • Lecture 4. Rethinking the Base and Superstructure
  • Lecture 5. Marxist Structuralism
  • Lecture 6. Ideology and Ideological Struggle
  • Lecture 7. Domination and Hegemony
  • Lecture 8. Culture, Resistance, and Struggle
  • References
  • Index
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Racial identity is a biological nonsense, says Reith lecturer

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Philosophy, Social Science on 2016-10-19 00:05Z by Steven

Racial identity is a biological nonsense, says Reith lecturer

The Guardian
2016-10-18

Hannah Ellis-Petersen, Culture Reporter


Kwame Anthony Appiah says ‘race does nothing for us’. Photograph: BBC

Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah says race and nationality are social inventions being used to cause deadly divisions

Two weeks ago Theresa May made a statement that, for many, trampled on 200 years of enlightenment and cosmopolitan thinking: “If you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere”.

It was a proclamation blasted by figures from all sides, but for Kwame Anthony Appiah, the philosopher who on Tuesday gave the first of this year’s prestigious BBC Reith lectures, the sentiment stung. His life – he is the son a British aristocratic mother and Ghanian anti-colonial activist father, raised as a strict Christian in Kumasi, then sent to British boarding school, followed by a move to the US in the 1970s; he is gay, married to a Jewish man and explores identity for a living – meant May’s comments were both “insulting and nonsense in every conceivable way”…

Read the entire article here.

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