After reading the bell hook’s piece Talking Race and Racism it has me thinking about some of the things she was addressing in her piece and how there are examples of what she is talking about on the 5C campuses everyday. hooks talks about how she has been in classroom settings and has to hear students say that the believe racism doesn’t really shape the contours of our lives. She says that she begins the class with the same exercise. “I ask if they were about to die and could choose to come back as a white male, a white female, a black female, or black male, which identity would they choose.” Each time, she says, “individuals irrespective of gender or race invariably choose whiteness, and most often white maleness. Black females are the least chosen.” hooks asks the students why they choose what they choose and they say it has to do with a “privilege based on race (with perspectives that take gender and class into consideration.)” Having this disconnect hooks is saying, creates a gap between the students conscious repudiation of race as a marker of privilege and their unconscious understanding.

Why this got me thinking of the 5Cs in general, is because students in classrooms today find it very taboo to discuss race in a group  discussion. They tend to,  what I have observed at least, be very cautious when it comes to this topic. We as a generation have been exposed to so many different forms of racism in person, or in the media. We have been, at least in the educational system, sheltered in a lot of ways from racism. For fear that it might “trigger” someone or cause too much of an uproar in the community of the campus in which it is being discussed. But in my mind that means the solution shouldn’t be to not discuss this issue and just imagine it isn’t there. The reason bell hooks uses that exercise in classrooms is to, “help[s] them move past their denial of the existence of racism. It lets us begin to work together toward a more unbiased approach to knowledge.” We as a generation have to not be afraid of things that we particularly create as “taboo” just because something is difficult to talk about, usually the things that are the most difficult to talk about are usually give us the most knowledge moving forward.


4 responses »

  1. ariatung says:

    I definitely agree that race is a topic not only students here at the Claremont Colleges, but people in general seem to be hesitant to discuss. Or if they do, like you said, people are very careful with what they say. But I think the only way to have people be educated about race, is to discuss it. And that’s why classes like this one, and sociology courses are so important for students, because they make people more aware and people are able to discuss race.

  2. maddiemcc19 says:

    I think work on implicit bias, both in a scientific-neurological way and a sociological way, is incredibly important for teachers to use when teaching about race (or *should* be teaching about privilege/oppression). This would allow students not to disassociate with their place in this “white-supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy” with thinking like ‘THEY’RE the racist ones, I’m not,’ but rather thinking about the racism they need to actively reject.

    While using language that is not offensive characteristic of PC culture, the focus needs to be on *why* this is offensive and the historical power of language, not trying to win the Least Racist Award mentality.

  3. maddieglouner says:

    I agree with you that race is an issue that is incredibly taboo to discuss in our society-particularly in the classroom. I also think that your quote from Hooks on choosing white maleness as a preferred identity really highlights how much of a problem racism is in the US and Western culture. It goes to show how race (and gender) is obviously still a part of our culture of white capitalist patriarchal dominance over any other minorities.

  4. bhedigan says:

    I agree that race, and the history of racism within the US, needs to be discussed on campuses across the nation. Having taken quite a few American Lit classes in the last few semesters, I’ve noticed the extent to which classmates tiptoe around issues of race. We must be transparent about the blatant racism that drove our country’s early economy, and continues to affect our society and our culture. Unless we as a collective acknowledge the past and communicate to create a better future, nothing will change.

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