Group Work on Loury This is a critical reading exercise: Four groups, 5-7 minutes: Each group takes one page of text (pages 113-16). Come up with main points, vocabulary words (above), and key quotations. What do you find interesting, important, or controversial? Share your annotations. Report your findings to the class.
Main Point Does your own experience support Loury's main point? What IS his main point? Can you locate it? (Hint: Page 112.)
Loury’s Main Point Par. 3: “... Racial identity in America is inherently a social and cultural, not simply a biological construct—that is necessarily involves an irreducible element of choice.”
POINT As we have seen before, knowledge is a social construct. That principle is present to some extent in all of today’s readings: –Loury: Whiteness and blackness are more than biological; they are social constructs. –McIntosh: Privilege is a learned assumption, not something that nature creates. –Morrow and Tyson: Nature makes sexuality a continuum of types of attraction, but society (especially religion) teaches that homosexuality is against nature; homophobia is a learned assumption.
So What? When you think you are learning Truth, you may actually be absorbing cultural assumptions without acknowledging them as such.
Page 71 Do you agree that "the self is inevitably shaped by the objective world, and by other selves" (par. 10)? What does it mean to live "'life with integrity'" (end of par. 10)? Why the extra set of quotation marks? What different view does The Secret offer?
Page 72 Is the dissonance between self-image and social identity/persona (par. 14) more than a racial phenomenon? Isn't it everybody's story? (See par. 19.) Still, doesn’t race add an important dimension to self-image vs. persona? What is Loury’s critique of racism’s impact on identity? For example, what is blacks’ influence on other blacks? See especially par. 14.
Blackness What is “mythic authentic blackness” (par. 20)? Is it the same thing as being "genuinely black" (par. 13) or enacting "racial authenticity" (par. 12)? Are you “black enough” or “white enough”? Can you think of examples from your own experience in South Carolina?
Who Am I? What definition of the human condition does Loury advance in par. 18? Do you agree or disagree? Consider also his references to “spirit” and “Spirit” in pars. 20 and 27. Note his emphasis on roles. How does his definition critique the notion that “our collective experience of racism constitutes an adequate basis for any person’s self-definition” (par. 17)?
POINT Loury’s definition suggests that selfhood should arise from the spirit that is within us, not be imposed on us solely from outside. Plus, he suggests that the roles we play, which exist apart from race, are central to who we are. In other words, selfhood is more about essence (spirit) and about culturally sanctioned roles (all of which, Loury should have admitted, arise from cultural assumptions).
What about Atheism? He is writing from a Christian perspective. How do you understand who you are if you believe that you do not have a soul or a connection to Spirit?
Transition We will switch now to McIntosh’s “White Privilege.”
Discuss Statement in par. 25 “Many, perhaps most, of our white students in the United States think that racism doesn’t affect them because they are not people of color; they do not see ‘whiteness’ as a racial identity. Many men likewise think that Women’s Studies does not bear on their own existences because they are not female; they do not see themselves as having gendered identities.”
Privilege McIntosh asserts that men and whites have certain privileges that women and persons of color do not have. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? Here is another way to ask the question: What are your experiences of male or white privilege? Can you illustrate some of the 46 things that McIntosh lists? Did you mark any of them?
Types of Racism McIntosh distinguishes between racism as "individual acts of meanness" and racism as "invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance" (par. 29). Have you had experiences with either of these? Do you think that there are other kinds of racism? How about the kind of racism that characterizes thoughts but does not always manifest outwardly?
By Extension, par. 26 Age: youth > age Ethnicity: European > South American Physical ability: tall > short Nationality: American > Saudi Religion: Christian > Muslim Sexual orientation: heterosexual > homosexual
Meritocracy Does this word characterize your experience of America or not? OR is the truth somewhere in between the presence and the absence of meritocracy? Does anything in your life illustrate "unearned race advantage and conferred dominance" (par. 21)? How about unearned advantages in other areas? Is meritocracy really a "myth," as McIntosh claims in pars. 12 and 30?
Homology Race:________>_________ as Sex:________>_________ as Sexual orientation:________>________ Par. 28: “racism, sexism, and heterosexism” Point: All of these hierarchies are social constructs.
Final Questions IN YOUR NOTEBOOK, WRITE AN ANSWER TO ONE OF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS: Having now discussed Loury and McIntosh (and a wee bit of Morrow & Tyson), do you understand yourself differently? If so, how? If not, why not? What is one thing that you have learned from today’s class? Another thing to consider: What was your first experience of racism, sexism, or homophobia? How did you first become aware of these differences between people and of their implications? END