Spirituality, the Self, and the Struggle for Social Justice john a. powell Director, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, & Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Moritz College of Law “ Possibilities for a Post-Racial Nation/World in the Obama Era” Symposium April 24, 2009
How do postmodern rejections of an isolated or unified self and assertions of the multiplicity of selves come into play?
If “self” is actually constructed within an intersubjective space, if there is no personal sphere without the social sphere, is it possible to have a private, personal relationship with God? Or are our yearnings always communal yearnings?
If the social and the personal are constituted in relationship to each other, could our unresolved ontological suffering create the structures that perpetuate social suffering.
If spirituality is our effort to connect to something beyond our egoistic self – how does that relate to social justice?
Could working to relieve social suffering be a non-optional part of moving beyond our “self”? Working for social transformation be an integral part of engaging deeply with all of our personal encounters?
Addresses the tensions between “transcendence” and “immanence”
Must reject structures that limit our ways to embrace love and hope in all our interpersonal interactions
This perspective acknowledges that race can be a divisive issue in our society
Policies and interventions need to address race; otherwise they will only provide partial solutions to problems that are grounded in race
Acknowledging race through a multicultural frame can reduce prejudice
Color-consciousness fosters an appreciation of each group’s contributions to society
Source: Philip Mazzocco. “The Dangers of Not Speaking About Race.” 2006
Understanding of Disparities Present Extreme Persisting Absent Minimal Declining Explanations for Disparities Structural Historical Abnormal Individual Cultural Normal Solutions to Disparities Color-Conscious Color-Blind OPPOSE AA SUPPORT AA Color-blind/ Color-conscious Racism
Telling someone a scary story activates a frame of fear
Claude Steele’s “stereotype threat”:
For example, tell students about to take a test that Asian students tend to do better than whites, the whites will perform significantly worse than if they had not been primed to think of themselves as less capable than Asians.
IAT measures unconscious attitudes toward various groups of people.
IAT tracks the response time required to match up pleasant and unpleasant words such as “love,” “kindness,” “trust” and “fear,” “hatred,” “dishonor,” respectively, with images of individuals who belong to “in-groups” and “outgroups”— Caucasians juxtaposed against African Americans or males juxtaposed against females, for example.
Think about previous slides with text and colors.
More than two-thirds of test takers register bias toward stigmatized groups.
Using images of white and black men, each gripping a cell phone, a wallet, or a handgun, scientists have created a video-game experiment that requires split-second judgments.
Images of suspects—both armed and unarmed, black and white—flash onto a monitor. Within a split-second, subjects must decide whether to shoot.
One after another, images flash onto a monitor and participants must assess whether the man in each picture is carrying a gun. Within 850 milliseconds they must press one key to shoot or another to leave the figure unharmed.
In experiment after experiment people’s mistakes, although rare, follow a pattern: they shoot more unarmed blacks than unarmed whites, and they fail to shoot more whites than blacks who turn out to be holding weapons.