Critical Philosophy of Race

PH 360

Course Critical Philosophy Of Race Kris Sealey

Why critical philosophy of race is critical:
  • It calls into question a purely naturalized (biological) account of racial identity
  • It studies the full implications of the de-naturalization of racial categories
  • It investigates the social, political and existential intersections of what it means to be racialized subjects within modern/post-modern systems of anti-blackness.

Why critical philosophy of race is philosophical:
  • It thinks broadly and deeply, across multiple disciplines and regions of human life, about the implications of being racialized in the social and political spaces emerging out of modernity.
  • It retains the philosophical methodology as it engages with trans-disciplinary scholarship that is historical, literary, political, sociological and anthropological (to cite but a few examples).
  • As philosophy, it poses its driving questions with the expectation that answers/solutions will lead further (significant) driving questions.

In this course, students are expected to approach issues, themes and concepts with intent for analysis and examination. We will be required to re-think perspectives and re-visit old assumptions, not for the sake of necessarily replacing them, but in order to understand (and then take full responsibility) for the ramifications of the positions/world views we hold. These are invaluable philosophical tools, and they will play a crucial role in the success with which you complete this course.

  1. Students will be prepared to demonstrate an understanding of the history of racial power, and the cotemporary unfolding of racial power, racial inequity and racial oppression.
  2. Students will be able to articulate the ways in which social identities and cultural value sets are shaped by structures of anti-blackness.
  3. Students will be able to analyze their own racialized identities, and articulate the ways in which structures of race determine their cultural values and positions of privilege in a global racialized context.
  4. Students will explore the problem space of anti-black violence from multiple racialized perspectives, and critically assess solutions to the problem of anti-black violence from multiple disciplinary and popular culture resources.

You are required to purchase two texts for this course:
  • Charles W. Mills, The Racial Contract, Cornell University Press, 1997
  • Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, Duke University Press, 2016

Supplementary required reading available as pdfs on Blackboard.
  • Paul Taylor, Race: A Philosophical Introduction
  • Angela Davis, Freedom is a Constant Struggle, “We Have to Talk About Systemic Change” (chpt 3)
  • Francis Galton, “Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope and Aims”, The Idea of Race
  • Alain Locke, “The Concept of Race as Applied to Social Culture”, The Idea of Race
  • E.B. Du Bois, “The Conservation of Races” , The Idea of Race
  • Anthony Appiah, “The Uncompleted Argument: Du Bois and the Illusion of Race”, The Idea of Race
  • Lucius Outlaw, “Conserve Races? In Defense of W.E.B. Du Bois”
  • Donna-Dale Marcano, “The Difference that Difference Makes”
  • Robert Westley, “White Normativity and the Racial Rhetoric of Equal Protection”, Existence in Black
  • Robert Bernasconi, “The Invisibility of Racial Minorities”
  • Lewis Gordon, Bad Faith and Anti-black Racism, pp. 65 – 77
  • Charles Mills, “White Ignorance”, Race and the Epistemologies of Ignorance
  • Alexis Shotwell, “Unforgetting as a Collective Tactic”, White Self-Criticality beyond Anti-racism
  • Steve Martinot, “Whiteness, Democracy and the Hegemonic Mind”, White Self-Criticality beyond Anti-racism