Sunday, August 29, 2021

Pushing back against the mainstream of race politics

I am finding Christine Louis-dit-Sully's latest book Transcending Racial Divisions: Will You Stand By Me both illuminating and thought-provoking.

Ms. Louis-dit-Sully is a black woman brought up in the French West Indies, France and the UK, and has only recently moved from academic biology research to political theory and commentary, since becoming disillusioned with the current state of race politics, identity politics, critical race theory, etc. It's a crowded field, but she brings her own lived experience and her clarity of thought and expression to it.

To give a flavour of the book, here are just a few snippets from the early pages, some of which may seem quite controversial, even shocking, within the current Zeitgeist of anti-racist opinion and the climate of politic correctness:

  • "Racism is about denying group members their individuality".
  • "The caricature of Serena Williams was racist and used specific well-known cultural tropes, but this does not necessarily mean that the author was or is racist."
  • "I am very open about my strong opposition to identity politics and to the anti-white bigotry promoted by some black activists."
  • "I do not agree with the notion that white authors writing about black characters in their novels, plays, comics, are necessarily being racist."
  • "I do not agree with the view that 'blackface' is always racist. People have blackened and blacken their faces for various reasons including just for the fun of changing their appearance."
  • "The prejudices, in the past, toward strangers or people from other communities like African tribes, Slavs or Germanic tribes were not racial prejudices unless one imposes our current view of the world onto people long gone."
  • "Self-defined identity groups are based on real or imagined grievances, the members of that group are defined as victims, and the identity is seen as positive."
  • "One of the reasons I strongly challenge identity politics is down to my opposition to the belief that emotional exhaustion, skin color, race, ethnicity, culture or personal experiences automatically give one access to the truth, and that that supposed truth cannot be discussed or challenged."
  • "Only a single individual would need to feel offended for a claim of cultural appropriation."
  • "Activists who describe racism as systemic white privilege or as the original sin have divided people into two immutable categories: the oppressors and the oppressed, showing their underlying mistrust in reason and autonomy."
  • "If an individual wants to see himself as black, he is forced to follow the norms and rules of the identity group, otherwise he is seen as 'inauthentic' or 'non-black'. The identity classification denies individual agency."

Strong stuff! Many (not all) of these views are similar to ones I have expressed myself in these blogs. The difference is, though, that I am white, and I walk on eggshells and risk online opprobrium and chastisement for espousing and disseminating such views. How refreshing, then, to read similar fare from a card-carrying black activist.

No comments: