Vocabulary

Body/Mind divide:  1. We are taught that the body is an ignorant animal intelligence dwells only in the head. But the body is smart. It does not discern between external stimuli and stimuli from the imagination. It reacts equally viscerally to events from the imagination as it does to real events. 2. Only through the body, through the pulling of flesh, can the human soul be transformed. And for images, words, stories to have this transformative power, they must arise from the human body--flesh and bone--and from the Earth's body--stone, sky, liquid, soil. This work, these images, piercing tongue or ear lobes with cactus needle, are my offerings. – G.A.

Borders: Set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them. A border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge. A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is in a constant state of transition. The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants.” –G.A.

BPOC: Black and People of Color is a political self-definition that relate to an original wish for a transnational movement of peoples across borders. One must acknowledge its limits in that Western imperialism produces hierarchies among BPoC’s (for example of citizenship, freedom of movement, comparative life quality, life value/mournability), and seek to counter the limits of the term by actively discussing it as intertwined with class, nationality, gender, disability, sexuality, spirituality. The emphasis on Black people made in the term is an acknowledgment of how the modern colonial project in its different manifestations produced racial categorizations that placed Blackness at the bottom of humanity, and in using it, the aim is to make awareness of the repercussions of this historical fact up to this day. –I.C.

Coloniality: The concept of coloniality, as coined by Quijano, addresses how race and labor were articulated in the colonial period, and its perpetuation in modern times. The colonial matrix of power has been described in four interrelated domains: control of economy (land appropriation, exploitation of labor, control of natural resources); control of authority (institution, army); control of gender and sexuality (family, education) and control of subjectivity and knowledge (epistemology, education and formation of subjectivity). Quijano, Aníbal. "Coloniality of power and Eurocentrism in Latin America." International Sociology 15.2 (2000): 215-232.

Color blindness: If previously whites were color demarcated as biologically and/or culturally unequal and superior, now through a strategic “color blindness” they are assimilated as putative equals to the status and situation of nonwhites on terms that negate the need for measures to repair the inequities of the past. So white normativity manifests itself in a white refusal to recognize the long history of structural discrimination that has left whites with the differential resources they have today, and all of its consequent advantages in negotiating opportunity structures. If originally whiteness was race, then now it is racelessness, an equal status and a common history in which all have shared, with white privilege being conceptually erased. –CWM.

Decolonizing Colonial Decoloniality: As long as Latin American whites and mestizxs feel they can meet and talk about Latin American without black and indigenous presence, we will not leave the colonial. –I.C.

Marxism: Mainstream Marxism has (with a few honorable exceptions) has not historically realized or acknowledged the extent to which European expansionism in the modern period (the late 15th century and onward) creates a racialized world, so that class categories have to share theoretical space with categories of personhood and subpersonhood. Modernity is supposed to usher in the epoch of individualism. The Marxist critique is then that the elimination of feudal estates still leaves intact material/economic differences (capitalist and worker) between nominally classless and normatively equal individuals. But the racial critique points out that people of color don’t even attain normative equality. In the new language of the time of “men” or “persons” (displacing citizens and slaves, lords and serfs), they are not even full persons. Social justice theory needs to be reconnected with its real-world roots, the correction of injustices. So a theorization of the implications of a globally racially partitioned personhood becomes crucial, and liberalism — once informed by and revised in the light of the black experience — can be very valuable in working this out. In “Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism,” I try to make a case for this retrieval — the deracialization of a liberalism historically racialized. Marxism is still of value in various ways: its mapping of the revolutionary transformative effects of capitalism on the modern world; its diagnosis of trends of concentration of wealth and poverty in capitalist societies; its warning of the influence of the material economic sphere on the legal, cultural, political and ideational realms. Yet it has as well various weeknesses. –Charles W. Mills

Mestizaje: A state of being beyond binary ("either-or") conception, into academic writing and discussion. The "new mestiza" is an individual aware of her conflicting and meshing identities and uses these "new angles of vision" to challenge binary thinking in the Western world. -Gloria Anzaldúa. “By creating a new mythos - that is, a change in the way we perceive reality, the way we see ourselves, and the ways we behave - la mestiza creates a new consciousness. The work of mestiza consciousness is to break down the subject/object duality that keeps her prisoner and to show in the flesh and through the images in her work how duality is transcended. The answer to the problem between the white race and the colored, between males and females, lies in healing the split that originates in the very foundation of our lives, our culture, our languages, our thoughts. A massive uprooting of dualistic thinking in the individual and collective consciousness is the beginning of a long struggle, but one that could, in our best hopes, bring us to the end of rape, of violence, of war.” –G.A.

White Supremacy: A system of sociopolitical domination, whether formal (de jure) or informal (de facto), that is characterized by racial exploitation and the denial of equal opportunities to nonwhites, thereby privileging whites both nationally and globally. Historically, it was recognized by traditional (modern) political philosophy, but it was generally taken for granted and positively valorized. After World War II and decolonization, the public expression of such views becomes impolitic. So you then have a retroactive sanitization of the racist past and the role of the leading Western political philosophers and ethicists in justifying Western domination. –Charles W. Mills

Global White Ignorance: Modernity is cognitively marked by a broad pattern in which whites generally endorse racist views (one type of ignorance) in the period of formal global white domination, and then (roughly from the post-World War II, decolonial period onward) shift to the endorsement of views that nominally decry racism, but downplay the impact of the racist past on the present configuration of wealth and opportunities (another type of ignorance). So remedial measures of racial justice are not necessary, and the benefits obtained from illicit structural advantage, historic and ongoing, can remain intact and unthreatened. Insofar as mainstream “white” American political philosophy ignores these realities (and there are, of course, praiseworthy exceptions, like Elizabeth Anderson’s “The Imperative of Integration”), it can be judged, in my opinion, to be maintaining this tradition. –CWM

Philosophy: A historically white discipline — in the United States, about 97 percent white demographically (and worse in Europe), with no or hardly any people of color to raise awkward questions; a disciplinary bent towards abstraction, which in conjunction with the unrepresentative demographic base facilitates idealizing abstractions that abstract away from racial and other subordinations (Onora O’Neill).

Political philosophy: The drawing of the boundaries of the political is itself often a political act. The best-known example in recent decades of such a challenge is feminist political theory, which classically argued that the conventional liberal division between the public and the private spheres needed to be rethought, since as it stood, gender injustice was obfuscated by the relegation of the family to the “apolitical” realm of the domestic. More recently, we’ve seen the challenges of postcolonial theory and queer theory, though they haven’t had much of an impact in philosophy circles, and certainly not in analytic political philosophy circles.

Social Justice: A Western social justice tradition that for more than 90 percent of its history has excluded the majority of the population from equal consideration (see Samuel Fleischacker’s “A Short History of Distributive Justice,” which demonstrates how recent the concept actually is); and of course you have norms of professional socialization that school the aspirant philosopher in what is supposed to be the appropriate way of approaching political philosophy, which over the past 40 years has been overwhelmingly shaped by Rawlsian “ideal theory,” the theory of a perfectly just society.

Racism: We need to do various things, like exposing the racism of most of the important liberal theorists (such as Kant), asking what the actual color-coded (rather than sanitized for later public consumption) versions of their theories are saying (are blacks full persons for Kant, for example?), and how these racially partitioned norms justified a white-dominant colonial world. (See my “Kant and Race, Redux” in the forthcoming special issue on race and the history of philosophy of the Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal.) As I said above, we need to recognize and investigate the workings of racial liberalism/imperial liberalism, since this is the actual version of liberalism that has
made the modern world and that, more subtly today, is continuing to help maintain its topography of illicit racialized privilege and disadvantage. In the title of one of my papers, we need to be
Liberalizing Illiberal Liberalism,” a reconstruction of liberal theory. –CWM.

Reality: Like all people, we perceive the version of reality that our culture communicates. Like others having or living in more than one culture, we get multiple, often opposing messages. The coming together of two self-consistent but habitually incomparable frames of reference causes un choque, a cultural collision. –GA.

Antiracist: Understanding the institutional nature of racial matters and accepting that all actors in a racialized society are affected materially (receive benefits or disadvantages) and ideologically
by the racial structure. This stand implies taking responsibility for your unwilling participation in these practices and beginning a new life committed to the goal of achieving real racial equality. The ride will be rough, but after your eyes have been opened, there is no point in standing still. –CWM.

Savage: A category who played a conceptual role in the justification of imperialism. As Francis Jennings (1976) points out, the word was “created for the purposes of conquest rather than the purposes of knowledge.” “Savagery” and “civilization” were “reciprocals” and were “both independent of any necessary correlation with empirical reality.” The conceptual outcome was a “conjoined myth” that “greatly distorted [white] Americans’ perceptions of reality,” necessarily involving “the suppression of facts”. –CWM. The savage’s form was made to fit the function the colonizer had for it. The word savage thus underwent considerable alteration of meaning as different colonists pursued their varied ends. One aspect of the term remained constant, however: the savage was always inferior to civilized men. . .  The constant of Indian inferiority implied the rejection of their humanity and determined the limits permitted for their participation in the mixing of cultures. The savage was prey, cattle, pet, or vermin—never a citizen. Upholders of the myth denied that either savage tyranny or savage anarchy could rightfully be called government, and therefore there could be no justification for Indian resistance to European invasion. –FJ.

Social Sciences: Consider an anthropology founded on racial hierarchy. A sociology failing to confront the central so- cial fact of structural white domination. A history sanitizing the record of aboriginal conquest and black exploitation. A political science representing racism as an anomaly to a basically inclusive and egalitarian polity. Or, a political philosophy thriving for thirty years and supposedly dedicated to the elucidation of justice that makes next to no mention of the centrality of racial injustice to the “basic structure” of the United States and assumes instead that it will be more theoretically appropriate to start from the “ideal theory” assumption that society is the product of a mutually agreed upon, nonexploitative enterprise to divide benefits and burdens in an equitable way—and that this is somehow going to illuminate the distinctive moral problems of a society based on exploitative white settlement. In whatever discipline that is affected by race, the “testimony” of the black perspective and its distinctive conceptual and theoretical insights will tend to be whited out. Whites will cite other whites in a closed circuit of epistemic authority that reproduces white delusions.

Social justice theory: should be reconnected with its real-world roots, the correction of injustices, which means that rectificatory justice in non-ideal societies should be the theoretical priority, not distributive justice in ideal societies. Political philosophy needs to exit Rawlsland and return to planet Earth. –CWM.

Whiteness: 1. Having no biological connotations, it is used in the sense that has become standard within critical whiteness studies, to refer to people socially categorized as white within a racialized social system (Painter 2010; Allen 2012). 2. Whiteness is originally coextensive with full humanity, so that the nonwhite Other is grasped through a historic array of concepts whose common denominator is their subjects’ location on a lower ontological and moral rung. 3. The boundaries of whiteness are not always drawn in the same way in different countries, nor does the designation of whiteness rule out internal “racial” heterogeneities and hierarchies within the white population itself. –CWM.

Writing: “Why am I compelled to write?... Because the world I create in the writing compensates for what the real world does not give me. By writing I put order in the world, give it a handle so I can grasp it. I write because life does not appease my appetites and anger... To become more intimate with myself and you. To discover myself, to preserve myself, to make myself, to achieve self-autonomy. To dispell the myths that I am a mad prophet or a poor suffering soul. To convince myself that I am worthy and that what I have to say is not a pile of shit... Finally I write because I'm scared of writing, but I'm more scared of not writing. / I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing. I will have my voice: Indian, Spanish, white. I will have my serpent's tongue - my woman's voice, my sexual voice, my poet's voice. I will overcome the tradition of silence.” ” –Gloria Anzaldúa Thomas McCarthy (2002, 2004) points out the importance of a politics of memory for closing the “peculiar gap between academic historical scholarship and public historical consciousness that marks our own situation” (2002, 641) and emphasizes that the eventual achievement of racial justice can only be accomplished through a systematic national re-education on the historic extent of black racial sub-ordination in the United States and how it continues to shape our racial fates differentially today. Decolonization never goes unnoticed, for it focuses on and fundamentally alters being, and transforms the spectators crushed to a nonessential fashion by the spotlight of History. It infuses a new rhythm, specific to a new generation of men, with a new language and a new humanity.