Week 4 Activity Post

Why We Fail When We Try to Talk About Race in America

I chose an article by Eddie Glaude in which he discusses why when we attempt to talk about race in America, we always fail. Glaude bases his argument on French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre’s concept of bad faith, which in laymen’s terms is simply a form of self deception. Confronting the ugliness of the world we live in and accepting our responsibility for creating and combating that ugliness fills us with anxiety, so instead of accepting the reality of the situation we bury our heads in the sand and pretend everything is alright. Glaude outlines several example in which we as a society have an opportunity to impact change, but instead only succeed at convincing ourselves everything is ok.

I think this article is a perfect echo of the articles we read this week. It puts into words how when we as both Caucasians and African Americans have the opportunity to speak out and possibly change how race is perceived and acted upon, we fail to do so. Glaude’s words echoed Michelle Alexander’s thoughts in her article about the ‘New Jim Crow.’ Alexander outlines fact after fact pointing to the existence of racial castes in America, yet time after time Caucasians refused to acknowledge or accept responsibility for their role in this racial problem. Looking at the concept of ‘post-racial America’ through Glaude’s argument of bad faith, we can see that this concept is nothing more than a systemic attempt at societal self-deception. Instead of acknowledging the problems that plague those of the lowest ‘caste’ we look at the few African Americans who become judges, president, or CEO’s and say that there cannot possibly be a problem if they are able to attain this status. Not only does this work to deceive us as a society, but it also continues to further the racialization and oppression of African Americans.

2 thoughts on “Week 4 Activity Post

  1. The article that you chose points out a very important issue in present day America. Whenever something tragic happens there is always talk about how race is perceived, but nothing really changes as a result. I think that everybody understands that there is a problem even though some will not admit it. Identifying the problem is only half the battle, coming up with a solution is the hardest part. You also bring up the point of African Americans becoming doctors, CEOs, and other prominent positions in society. This does not prove that a problem does not exist, it just shows that some areas of the United States have progressed faster than others. It is cliché to say that this problem will be fixed with time. But with no solution in sight the perception of racism is not going to change overnight. Although many of us wish that we could give a rousing speech that changes history like Martin Luther King, it is going to take more than words to solve this problem.

  2. I think your point about people not doing anything to resolve an issue is very honest, even though it’s something that a lot of people may feel is difficult to discuss. I have never been one to be incredibly vocal about my stance on racial issues, as I’ve always felt that my opinion as a white woman isn’t likely taken seriously. Whether it is acknowledged or not, it’s frustrating to me that many other whites are not expressing any form of acknowledgement about the racial issues that are increasingly present in our country. No matter race, religion, age, gender, etc, it has been made clear time and time again that there is a lot wrong in our world and that not just one person will be able to make a difference.

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