Friday, April 07, 2006

Hidden White Normativity

One of the first blogs that I ever read regularly was Paul Street's. He doesn't write so much these days, after moving from a job as a researcher at a major urban civil rights organization in Chicago to go back to teaching university history, but he still has some interesting things to say. I am interested in the ways in which different socially determined experiences shape our instincts, our gut responses, our unconscious, our blindnesses in very particular ways, so I thought I would link to this new article by Street in The Black Commentator: "Race, Place, and Freedom: A Katrina Classroom Memoir."

He starts off like this:

"One of the most important, though most subtle and elusive, aspects of white supremacy," notes the radical black philosopher Charles W. Mills, "is the barrier it erects to a fair hearing. It is not merely," Mills adds, "that people of color are trying to make a case for the economic and juridico-political injustice of their treatment; it is that they are additionally handicapped in doing so by having to operate within a white discursive field." Within that biased field, Mills observes, "the framework of debate is not neutral: it is biased by dominant white cognitive patterns of structured ignorance, an overt or hidden white normativity so that at the basic factual level, many claims of people of color will just seem absurd, radically incongruent with the sanitized picture white people have of U.S. history."

Read it!.

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