Tuesday, January 14, 2014

can a blind person be a racist?

scientificamerican | Do blind people understand race? Given the vast and sprawling writings on race over the past several decades, it is surprising that scholars have not explored this question in any real depth. Race has played a profound and central role to human relationships. Yet how is it possible that this basic question has escaped deeper contemplation?

This gap in the scholarly literature and public discourse points to a fundamental assumption that we almost all make about race, its significance, and its salience. Race has been central to human relationships. Yet, there seems to be at least one thing that most people can agree upon: that race is, to a large extent, simply what is seen. There are surely many variables that inform individuals’ racial consciousness, such as religion, language, food, and culture. But race is primarily thought to be self-evidently known, in terms of reflecting the wide variation in humans’ outward appearance tied to ancestry and geographic origin such as skin color, hair texture, facial shapes, and other observable physical features. Thus, race is thought to be visually obvious; it is what you see, in terms of slotting visual engagements with human bodies into predefined categories of human difference, such as Black, White, and Asian. Given the dominant role these visual cues play in giving coherence to social categories of race, it is widely thought that race can be no more salient or significant to someone who has never been able to see than the musical genius of Mozart or Jay-Z can be salient to someone who has never been able to hear. Therefore, one plausible explanation for why questions concerning blind people’s understanding of race have not been explored is that, from a sighted person’s perspective, the answer seems painfully obvious: blind people simply cannot appreciate racial distinctions and therefore do not have any real racial consciousness.

This pervasive yet rarely articulated idea that race is visually obvious—a notion that I call “race” ipsa loquitur, or that race “speaks for itself”—has at least three components: (1) race is largely known by physical cues that inhere in bodies such as skin color or facial features, (2) these cues are thought to be self-evident, meaning that their perceptibility and salience exist apart from any mediating social or political influence, and (3) individuals without the ability to see are thought, at a fundamental level, to be unable to participate in or fully understand what is assumed to be a quintessentially ocular experience. Through this “race” ipsa loquitur trope, talking about race outside of visual references to bodily differences seems absurd, lest we all become “colorblind” in the most literal sense. Much of the ideological value in the emerging colorblindness discourse works from the idea that race and racism are problems of visual recognition, not social or political practices.

But, how much does the salience of race—in terms of it being experienced as a prominent and striking human characteristic that affects a remarkable range of human outcomes—depend upon what is visually perceived? To play upon the biblical reference to 2 Corinthians 5:7, do we simply “walk by sight” in that the racial differences are self-evident boundaries that are impressionable on their own terms? Or, is there a secular “faith” about race that produces the ability to “see” the very racial distinctions experienced as visually obvious? And if we take this idea seriously, that the visual salience of race is produced rather than merely observed, precisely what is at stake—socially, politically, and legally—when we misunderstand the process of “seeing race” as a distinctly visual rather than sociological phenomenon?

In my work, I have pushed the boundaries of the “race” ipsa loquitur trope by investigating the significance of race outside of vision. I critique the notion that race is visually obvious and suggest that the salience of race, in terms of its visually striking nature and attendant social significance, functions more by social rather than ocular mechanisms. Though perhaps counterintuitive, I begin with the hypothesis that our ability to perceive race and subsequently attach social meanings to different types of human bodies depends little on what we see; taking vision as a medium of racial truth may very well obscure a deeper understanding of precisely how race is both apprehended and comprehended, and thus how it informs our collective imaginations and personal behaviors as well as how it plays out in everyday life.


Ed Dunn said...

Yeah, we saw how fast that video was pulled offline, didn't we?

CNu said...

dayyum....., that was from a dieudonne account on youtube, posted a few days ago. this one is from dieudonne3 posted 2 days ago, let's see how long this mole in the whack-a-mole with the "authorities" stays alive.

Constructive_Feedback said...

Define what "Racist" is, per YOUR use of the word.
* Is A Blind Person Likely To Murder Someone Because Of His Differing Race?
* Is A Blind Person Likely To Sexually Oppress Someone Because Of Her Differing Race?
* Is A Black Person Likely To Physically Attack...............
So, Chances are the term "Racist" is actually "OFFEND THE DIGNITY OF................"
STILL - the more relevant question is: "Can a RACIST PERSON act with IMPUNITY today in the United States and have the SYSTEM affirm his hateful act?"
How is a series of NON-RACIST murders in Central African Republic, South Sudan and Kenya INFERIOR to a RACE-BASED killing in the United States today? Or Apartheid of the past?

makheru bradley said...

Cory Booker--another pro-Zionist American politician.


[Ironically, this speech was given just weeks before the Gaza-Israel war that would lead to the deaths of 1400 Palestinians and just 13 Israelis (four from friendly fire). Booker has never spoken about preventing Arab deaths at Israeli hands, which occurred in a ratio of 100-to-1 during that conflict, but that isn't how you build support from AIPAC hardliners.] -- Zaid Jilani

I would expect to see Booker grovel his way right to the top of this list:


CNu said...

Define what "Racist" is, per YOUR use of the word.

You racist Bro. Feed..., let me tug your sleeve real quick and help you refine that aspect of your game. Because with laser precision, you can bulletproof your game from that pernicious slander. See, I've now been lumped in with the much maligned black conservative demographic because of my unstinting criticism of the afrodemic/public intellectual counterinsurgency.

This element here is pre-jail;

Not to be confused or conflated with the overwhelming majority of black folk (yet somehow always confused, conflated, and identified with the overwhelming majority of black folk)

This element here is the afrodemic/public intellectual counterinsurgency (a subset of the Cathedral);

Always making excuses for the pre-jail, demanding limitless public largesse for the pre-jail, and playing a holier-than-thou card for anyone disagreeing with them about the irredeemable nature of the pre-jail.

Then there are the 2nd/3rd line inheritors of the civil rights movement;

It's insufficient, confusing and misleading to simply lump all these elements together and call them the embedded black fox confidence man, and offer up the GOP as a valid alternative to the same. Something novel, very precise, and impactful is required to successfully implement an effective and black partisan counter-counterinsurgency.

CNu said...

Marvel at how far things have progressed since the era of the original co-opted house negroe who could only aspire to be a highly compensated and broadly esteemed social worker http://youtu.be/J--frF7-ROU

BigDonOne said...

"What is racism...?" An executive-level example ---> http://www.wnd.com/2014/01/allen-west-obama-abjectly-despises-whites/

makheru bradley said...

The Greensboro Massacre

Sandra Neely Smith, a young Afrikan American woman who was murdered by white supremacists in Greensboro in 1979, was a friend of mine. We had worked together in the Student Organization for Black Unity, when she was the SGA president at Bennett College. A group of people organized a split within our organization when they suddenly decided that we should abandon Pan-Afrikanism and focus on the class struggle. Sandra followed Nelson Johnson, and joined the Communist Workers Party (later Workers Viewpoint Organization) where she became on of their leaders. The CWP recognized racism to be an impediment to their efforts to organize textile workers, so they staged high profile “Death To The Klan” rallies across North Carolina. After an earlier confrontation in China Grove, NC, the KKK, with law enforcement informants on board, organized an armed caravan and drove to Greensboro to confront the CWP. The footage in these videos shows some of that confrontation.



[After two criminal trials with all-white juries, not a single gunman was sent to prison. However, in 1985 a civil jury found the city, the Klan and the Nazi party liable for violating the civil rights of the demonstrators. The city paid a $350,000 dollar judgment on behalf of all parties. This was one of the only times in US history that a jury held local police liable for cooperating with Ku Klux Klan in a wrongful death.]


CNu said...

By 1979, Greensboro had already been undermined by Cathedral sensibilities, bringing rocks and sticks to a Robert Williams level of the game. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_F._Williams

CNu said...

Sloppy thinking and sloppy speech at its finest BD. The Hon.Bro.Preznit and his sidekick Arne Duncan simply don't know how to operate schools and are bankrupt in the practical ideas and practical applications department. Has nothing whatsoever to do with "hating white people".

If that's the best thinking that the right white can muster with regard to the underlying nature of our collective predicament here in America, then the right white is as profoundly lost and confused and the feminist left and its many and sundry Cathedral proxies.

makheru bradley said...

I talked to Sandra at a march the CWP held in Charlotte about that strategy. I reminded her that we grew up listening recordings of Malcolm talking about violence is a language white supremacists clearly understand.I asked her what are you all going to do when these folks cash in those "wolf tickets" you're selling. I also reminded her of the lessons we had learned from the police confrontations with the BPP. We had a guerrilla mindset and now she was hooked into this mess. I was told that she was shot a point blank range in the head. They did not open her casket at the funeral. .

Nakajima Kikka said...

I'm inclined to agree with one of the commenters at the scientific american site. It is likely that the blind people in the study originally used aural cues to distinguish between racial groups. Friends and family then provided the appropriate visual descriptions, followed by the social constructions.

Constructive_Feedback said...

Point well taken.

I get the sense that you are asking me to STOP OFFENDING them and then they will AGREE WITH ME.

I will give you my perspective, in total, shortly.
Stay tuned.