Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Head Scratchers

Interesting digression in class today. We were in small groups taking about whether we, if we were residents of America in the late 18th century, should have voted to ratify the constitution. I pointed out that at least some members of the group didn't have the right to vote at all.

"Yeah," said one, "because I'm a woman, I couldn't vote at all."

A guy responded, "and half of me couldn't vote." The professor raised an eyebrow and asked "are you half woman?"

"No, I'm half Black."


"Though, I guess I'm half woman also."

I never thought of it that way, but he's right, isn't he?


In other news of the bizarre, the unnamed law school which admitted me on January 1st, sent me a nice email today, January 16th, informing me that they've received my application and I should expect a decision by April. I'm on the edge of my seat.

Also, neighboring law school of already-admitted U asked to see my fall term grades. This isn't an unreasonable request, except that they already have my fall term grades. I didn't submit my application until my fall term grades were available. If they have any grades at all, said grades include my fall term grades. I sent them a polite-but-puzzled email to that effect, and am waiting for a response.


PG said...

I don't know how much you know about black liberation theology, but I would really like to see your take on the white conservatives' shock and horror at the idea that black Christians may see a need to interpret the Bible for themselves and to develop a value system that does not rely wholly on European and white American ministers. From what I can tell, there are two distinct ideas in white conservatives' minds of what Obama's pastor's "black liberation theology" means, which are actually not ideas that are easy to have co-exist, but they seem to be managing it.

1) "liberation theology" - they assume that this is referring to the Marxist-revolution-supporting *Catholic*, especially Jesuit, kind of liberation theology that was popular in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s (part of the reason that nuns and clergy were often targeted by the anti-Communist dictatorships). The fact that Obama's is a United Church of Christ denomination church (hello, Protestant), and not a Catholic one doesn't seem to be even a speed bump in making this assumption. The adjective "black" is ignored in order to lump all liberation theologies together regardless of their actual content.

2) "black theology" - they assume that this is an effort at "separatism." This is the point that I think your analysis would be really helpful on, because this assumption relies on the uncriticized idea that "white" is the default, and that therefore there's nothing separatist in having a theology that had justified blacks' slavery or that failed to call for their equality and just treatment. My God, thinks the white conservative, why wouldn't black people want to be part of this tradition? Why must they be separatist?

I think this is what Pastor Wright (who really did something dumb in his commendation of Farrakhan) was getting frustrated by in his appearance on Hannity & Colmes. Hannity is apparently incapable of wrapping his head around the idea that the theology he learned may have left black people -- their specific history, experiences, challenges, etc. -- out. To him, if theology didn't mention race, it MUST have included everyone, and it only the person who mentions race who is being exclusionary.

Same old "color-blind" arrogance and ignorance...

David Schraub said...

I mean, I could write a take on that, or I could just copy and paste that comment up on the main page. :-p

PG said...


I'd be interested in YOUR take on the issue, since you're more familiar with the theoretical underpinnings of invisible and assumed whiteness than I am. I just see this as a huge glaring example. Also I would be interested in your conservative readership's response, since the whole "media giving a pass to Obama's crazy separatists Communist church while making big deal about religion for Republicans" meme is gaining strength on the right.

David Schraub said...

Well, I appreciate the compliment. But I really can't think of that much to add -- as you say, it's a pretty simple application of the problems with color-blindness and assumed White normativity. Maybe if the debate metastasizes some more, I'll jump in.

Sorry to disappoint -- I'll try to do better next time. Any other requests? :-p