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Alcoff, Linda Martin. Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self
2006, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa
Publisher's Note: Visible Identities critiques the critiques of identity and of identity politics and argues that identities are real but not necessarily a political problem. Moreover, the book explores the material infrastructure of gendered identity, the experimental aspects of racial subjectivity for both whites and non-whites, and in several chapters looks specifically at Latio identity.

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Arisaka, Yoko. Paradox of Dignity: Everyday Racism and the Failure of Multiculturalism
2010, Ethik und Gesellschaft 2
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Yoko Arisaka
Abstract: Liberal multiculturalism was introduced to support integration and anti-racism, but everyday racism continues to be a fact of life. This paper analyzes first some frameworks and problems that race and racism raise, and discusses two common liberal approaches for solving the problem of racism: the individualized conception of dignity and the social conception of multiculturalism. I argue that the ontological and epistemological assumptions involved in both of these approaches, coupled with the absence of the political-progressive notion of «race» in Germany, in fact obscure important paths against racism. Lastly I introduce a politico-existential position from Cornel West and conclude that racism should be seen as a failure of a democratic process rather than a problem of race.

Comment: Offers a short review od the philosophy of race, the pitfalls of liberalism, why liberalism cannot solve racism, the situation in Germany

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Baldwin, James. The Fire Next Time
1963, Penguin Classics. pp. 3-22
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Added by: Suddha Guharoy, Andreas Sorger
Publisher’s Note:

A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two “letters,” written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism. Described by The New York Times Book Review as “sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition, testament, and chronicle…all presented in searing, brilliant prose,” The Fire Next Time stands as a classic of our literature.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Published in 1963, this essay offers a scathing attack on the racist history of America and its contemporary present in the 1960s. The text provides a trenchant critique of the way racism has shaped, and continues to shape, relations between whites and blacks in American society by suggesting that whites are trapped by a history they refuse to acknowledge – thereby making them unable to conceive of black Americans as their fellow co-citizens. Thus, for Baldwin, it is imperative that whites are made to recognise this history, as a failure to do so will inevitably result in an outbreak of violence. It is a compelling narrative of various quotidian as well as extraordinary incidents interwoven with local and international political causes and repercussions.

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Bell, Macalester. Against Simple Removal: A Defence of Defacement as a Response to Racist Monuments
, Journal of Applied Philosophy
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Added by: Ten-Herng Lai
Abstract: In recent years, protesters around the world have been calling for the removal of commemorations honouring those who are, by contemporary standards, generally regarded as seriously morally compromised by their racism. According to one line of thought, leaving racist memorials in place is profoundly disrespectful, and doing so tacitly condones, and perhaps even celebrates, the racism of those honoured and memorialized. The best response is to remove the monuments altogether. In this article, I first argue against a prominent offense-based account of the wrong of simply leaving memorials in place, unaltered, before offering my own account of this wrong. In at least some cases, these memorials wrong insofar as they express and exemplify a morally objectionable attitude of race-based contempt. I go on to argue that the best way of answering this disrespect is through a process of expressively “dehonouring” the subject. Removal of these commemorations is ultimately misguided, in many cases, because removal, by itself, cannot adequately dishonour, and simple removal does not fully answer the ways in which these memorials wrong. I defend a more nuanced approach to answering the wrong posed by these monuments, and I argue that public expressions of contempt through defacement have an ineliminable role to play in an apt dishonouring process.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Two things should be noted in this paper. First, many have discussed the importance of stopping or blocking the harm of objectionable commemorations. This paper goes a step further and discusses the importance of “answering” the wrong done by these monuments. Second, the paper engages with a “negative” emotion, namely, contempt, that is present at both racist monuments and the effort to confront them. It allows us to see the legitimate role this negative emotion may play in the struggle for equality: contempt can be apt towards inapt contempt expressed through racist monuments. It also nicely spells out the potential practical implications of taking this negative emotion seriously.

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Demetriou, Dan, Wingo, Ajume. The Ethics of Racist Monuments
, In David Boonin (ed.), Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy and Public Policy. Palgrave .
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Dan Demetriou
Abstract: In this chapter we focus on the debate over publicly-maintained racist monuments as it manifests in the mid-2010s Anglosphere, primarily in the US (chiefly regarding the over 700 monuments devoted to the Confederacy), but to some degree also in Britain and Commonwealth countries, especially South Africa (chiefly regarding monuments devoted to figures and events associated with colonialism and apartheid). After pointing to some representative examples of racist monuments, we discuss ways a monument can be thought racist, and neutrally categorize removalist and preservationist arguments heard in the monument debate. We suggest that both extremist and moderate removalist goals are likely to be self-defeating, and that when concerns of civic sustainability are put on moral par with those of fairness and justice, something like a Mandela-era preservationist policy is best: one which removes the most offensive of the minor racist monuments, but which focuses on closing the monumentary gap between peoples and reframing existing racist monuments.

Comment: Frames debates about racist monuments (e.g., Confederate or colonialist monuments), categorizes arguments for and against removal. Suitable for an intro-level course.

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Guenther, Lisa. Solitary Confinement: Social Death and its Afterlives
2013, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord
Abstract: Prolonged solitary confinement has become a widespread and standard practice in U.S. prisons - even though it consistently drives healthy prisoners insane, makes the mentally ill sicker, and, according to the testimony of prisoners, threatens to reduce life to a living death. In this profoundly important and original book, Lisa Guenther examines the death-in-life experience of solitary confinement in America from the early nineteenth century to today's supermax prisons. Documenting how solitary confinement undermines prisoners' sense of identity and their ability to understand the world, Guenther demonstrates the real effects of forcibly isolating a person for weeks, months, or years. -/- Drawing on the testimony of prisoners and the work of philosophers and social activists from Edmund Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty to Frantz Fanon and Angela Davis, the author defines solitary confinement as a kind of social death. It argues that isolation exposes the relational structure of being by showing what happens when that structure is abused - when prisoners are deprived of the concrete relations with others on which our existence as sense-making creatures depends. Solitary confinement is beyond a form of racial or political violence; it is an assault on being.

Comment: This text serves as both a clear introduction to the history of punishment and imprisonment in the United States, as well as a clear introduction to phenomenological method. Portions of the text on the experience of social death in solitary confinement would make excellent additions to introductory courses on prisons and punishment. Some chapters would also be fitting on classes concerning race and mass incarceration.

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Lewis Gordon. An Introduction to Africana Philosophy
2008, Cambridge University Press
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Added by: Sara Peppe, Contributed by: Jonathan Egid
Publisher’s Note:

In this undergraduate textbook Lewis R. Gordon offers the first comprehensive treatment of Africana philosophy, beginning with the emergence of an Africana (i.e. African diasporic) consciousness in the Afro-Arabic world of the Middle Ages. He argues that much of modern thought emerged out of early conflicts between Islam and Christianity that culminated in the expulsion of the Moors from the Iberian Peninsula, and from the subsequent expansion of racism, enslavement, and colonialism which in their turn stimulated reflections on reason, liberation, and the meaning of being human. His book takes the student reader on a journey from Africa through Europe, North and South America, the Caribbean, and back to Africa, as he explores the challenges posed to our understanding of knowledge and freedom today, and the response to them which can be found within Africana philosophy.

Comment: The single best short introduction to the subject, for use in any context that requires quick acquaintance with these ideas and thinkers of the African context.

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Melfi, Theodore. Hidden Figures
2016, [Feature film], 20th Century Fox.
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Added by: Fenner Stanley Tanswell
Abstract: The story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.

Comment (from this Blueprint): This film depicts a historical biopic of African American female mathematicians working at NASA in the 1960s, focusing on the story of Katherine Johnson. In it, the plot depicts struggles with racism and sexism, as well as the impacts of the move from human calculation to the use of computers.

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Nzegwu, Nkiru. African Art in Deep Time: De‐race‐ing Aesthetics and De‐racializing Visual Art
2019, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 77 (4): 367-378.
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Added by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: In two essays in the ART/Artifact(1988) exhibition catalog, white American museum curator Susan Vogel and white American philosopher Arthur Danto pronounce that Africans do not distinguish between art and nonart. Although seemingly objective empirical statements, their assertions about Africa and its art are racially based ruminations of a white supremacist worldview. I argue that in theorizing within the category of race they produced racialized aesthetics that commit the Eurocentric fallacy of upholding systemic racist objectives. I argue that (1) their assertions fail to be about African art, but about hegemony and power; (2) as the longest enduring artistic activity of humanity, African art is an important check to racialized aesthetics; (3) art is produced outside the category of race and from a critically conscious awareness of the world; and (4) art bespeaks creativity and presupposes the artistic and moral values of a culture in the manipulation and transformation of physical reality.

Comment: Written in an engaging way, this paper invites the reader to re-evaluate some common assumptions about art from different cultures. Exposing the prevalent Western approach to African art as racialised, it can be a great tool in making students understand both the structural-societal, as well as own biases in approaching other cultures. Ngzewu defends a powerful thesis: that ‘the West’s conception of art and creativity presupposes white racial hegemony.’ She exposes the way in which Western art is tacitly assumed to be a yardstick against which all is measured, and the Westerners have become the ‘purveyors of knowledge’ who apply this yardstick to decide whether works of other cultures are art, all without any need to consult the creators of those works, or to revise own concept of art. As such, the paper can be very empowering to some students, while also being very uncomfortable to others – teaching it might require some skill in leading the discussion in a constructive way. The import of Ngzewu’s argumentis that while racism and white domination rest on the assumption of cognitive and moral superiority of white people, the approach to African art she criticises serves to reinforce this assumption. This can inspire further class discussion on the importance and value of aesthetics. Best used before assigning other texts on non-Western art, which should all be read in light of Ngzewu’s criticism.

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Ray, Keisha. It’s Time for a Black Bioethics
2021, The American Journal of Bioethics. 21(2): 38–40.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner
Abstract: There are some long-standing social issues that imperil Black Americans' relationship with health and healthcare. These issues include racial disparities in health outcomes (Barr 2014), provider bias and racism lessening their access to quality care (Sabin et al. 2009), disproportionate police killings (DeGue, Fowler, and Calkins 2016), and white supremacy and racism which encourage poor health (Williams and Mohammed 2013). Bioethics, comprised of humanities, legal, science, and medical scholars committed to ethical reasoning is prima facie well suited to address these problems and influence solutions in the form of policy and education. Bioethics, however, so far has shown only a minimal commitment to Black racial justice.

Comment (from this Blueprint): In this short, seminal piece, Keisha Ray argues that bioethics needs to address issues of health and well-being of Black individuals. She applies Beauchamp and Childress’s famous four principles of bioethics to a particular issue: the disproportionate maternal mortality rate of Black women in the United States. Ray argues bioethics must incorporate the lens of Black bioethics, if the discipline is to remain relevant.

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Shahvisi, Arianne. Colonial monuments as slurring speech acts
2021, Journal of Philosophy of Education 55(3):453-468
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Added by: Ten-Herng Lai
Abstract: In recent years, the removal of monuments which glorify historical figures associated with racism and colonialism has become one of the most visible and contested forms of decolonisation. Yet many have objected that there is educational value in leaving such monuments standing. In this paper, I argue that public monuments can be understood as speech acts which communicate messages to those who live among them. Some of those speech acts derogate particular social groups, contributing to their marginalisation in much the way that slurs do. Comparing derogating monuments to slurs is also productive in suggesting morally appropriate responses to their harms. I explore the limits of the use-mention distinction in relation to the harmfulness of slurs and apply this to show that attempting to recontextualise harmful monuments in situ—by, for example, changing the text on an accompanying plaque in order to retain the monument for its educational value—will not solve the problem in most cases. I conclude that the removal of slurring monuments, or their relocation to museum exhibitions dedicated to presenting a more critical view of history, is a more robust and reliable way of protecting against harm, and that this consideration outweighs any purported educational value in leaving monuments in place.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Speech act theory is a very good way to understand why problematic monuments are problematic. It also has some important implications concerning what we ought to do with these monuments and whether they have good educational value. Especially regarding the second thing, the analogy with slurs is an illuminating one. There are better ways to teach the objectionableness of slurs than mentioning them constantly. Similarly, there are better ways to teach historical lessons than preserving problematic monuments.

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Sullivan, Shannon, Nancy Tuana (eds). Race and the Epistemologies of Ignorance
2007, State University of New York Press
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Yoko Arisaka

Publisher's Note: Offering a wide variety of philosophical approaches to the neglected philosophical problem of ignorance, this groundbreaking collection builds on Charles Mills’s claim that racism involves an inverted epistemology, an epistemology of ignorance. Contributors explore how different forms of ignorance linked to race are produced and sustained and what role they play in promoting racism and white privilege. They argue that the ignorance that underpins racism is not a simple gap in knowledge, the accidental result of an epistemological oversight. In the case of racial oppression, ignorance often is actively produced for purposes of domination and exploitation. But as these essays demonstrate, ignorance is not simply a tool of oppression wielded by the powerful. It can also be a strategy for survival, an important tool for people of color to wield against white privilege and white supremacy. The book concludes that understanding ignorance and the politics of such ignorance should be a key element of epistemological and social/political analyses, for it has the potential to reveal the role of power in the construction of what is known and provide a lens for the political values at work in knowledge practices.

“This anthology brings together some very prominent philosophers to address one of the most embarrassing and blatantly ignored elephants in philosophy: ignorance. While philosophers claim to be children of Socrates, who alone was virtuous and courageous enough to recognize the fecundity of ignorance, few have really addressed it with the verve and originality displayed in the contributions to this volume. I consider it a must-have for libraries, faculty, and graduate students.” — Eduardo Mendieta, editor of The Frankfurt School on Religion: Key Writings by the Major Thinkers

Contributors include Linda Martín Alcoff, Alison Bailey, Robert Bernasconi, Lorraine Code, Harvey Cormier, Stephanie Malia Fullerton, Sarah Lucia Hoagland, Frank Margonis, Charles W. Mills, Lucius T. Outlaw (Jr.), Elizabeth V. Spelman, Shannon Sullivan, Paul C. Taylor, and Nancy Tuana.

Comment: Different chapters can be used as a reading material on situated epistemology, philosophy of race, production of knowledge

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Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give
2017, HarperCollins Publishers.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Nadia Mehdi
Summary: The Hate U Give is a young adult novel by Angie Thomas. It follows events in the life of a black 16-year-old girl, Starr Carter, who is drawn to activism after she witnesses the police shooting of a childhood friend.

Comment: This book could be easily paired with a number of papers in the philosophy of race and racism including Charlies Mills' 'White Ignorance', or Kristie Dotson's 'Tracking Epistemic Violence, Tracking Practices of Silencing'. Concepts that are perhaps trickier for younger philosophers to wrap their heads around are elaborated in the film and book version of this piece.

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Yearby, Ruqaiijah. Race Based Medicine, Colorblind Disease: How Racism in Medicine Harms Us All
2021, The American Journal of Bioethics. 21(2): 19–27.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner
Abstract: The genome between socially constructed racial groups is 99.5%-99.9% identical; the 0.1%-0.5% variation between any two unrelated individuals is greatest between individuals in the same racial group; and there are no identifiable racial genomic clusters. Nevertheless, race continues to be used as a biological reality in health disparities research, medical guidelines, and standards of care reinforcing the notion that racial and ethnic minorities are inferior, while ignoring the health problems of Whites. This article discusses how the continued misuse of race in medicine and the identification of Whites as the control group, which reinforces this racial hierarchy, are examples of racism in medicine that harm all us. To address this problem, race should only be used as a factor in medicine when explicitly connected to racism or to fulfill diversity and inclusion efforts.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Yearby argues that appeals to racial categories—social, but especially biological—in medicine harm people from all races, including those from dominant racial groups, like Whites. Yearby first gives evidence for the claim that there is no biological reality to race. She then argues that the continued use of racial categorization in medicine—for instance, as a basis for different standards of care—leads to worse outcomes for all. For example, because Whites are often the de facto standard group in healthcare, their worse health outcomes are sometimes overlooked. Yearby ends by making suggestions for improving the categorization of people in healthcare.

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