What follows is a guest post by Nicholas Whittaker, PhD candidate in philosophy at CUNY Graduate Center.Continue reading
If you’re prepping a syllabus for the fall, you’re probably thinking about how to make your reading list more diverse or even how to decolonize your own and your students’ thinking about aesthetics and philosophy of art.
In an effort to help people do this, I’ve compiled the below list of suggested pieces by BIPOC authors, members of racial and ethnic groups that have often been marginalized in Western, Anglo-European philosophy, especially in the analytic tradition.
When multiple pieces are available, I have selected based on topic and suitability for teaching at the undergraduate level.
I hope that this list will aid efforts to build better syllabi, as well as expand your own personal reading and research!
In January, we hosted an interview and preliminary discussion of some pressing issues in rap and hip-hop. We wanted to investigate the fact that, in Bill Adler’s words, hip-hop has never been “a model of civil discourse”. We did that by talking to two queer Black women rappers, BL Shirelle and Bates, to get their takes on the matter. Now we follow that up with a roundtable of scholars, each reflecting in their own way on what BL Shirelle and Bates had to say.
[Warning: This discussion contains explicit language, including a variation of the n-word.]
Our contributors are:
- Bria Gambrell, MPP and MA candidate in Gender and Cultural Studies at Simmons University
- T.M.G., PhD student in Philosophy at Dalhousie University [website]
- Charlotte Henay, lecturer in Women’s and Gender Studies at Brock University
- Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, assistant professor in Philosophy at Georgetown University [website]
- Michael Thomas, assistant professor in Philosophy and coordinator in Africana Studies at Susquehanna University [website]
This is Part I of a two-part series. Part II is a roundtable discussion of the below interviews, featuring scholars working on these issues.
I. What Is There To Discuss?
A Prompt for Discussion by Bill Adler
As wonderful as it is, as impactful as it is, hip-hop music has never exactly embodied a model of civil discourse. On the contrary, it has often been—and remains—rough, rude, and heedless. Indeed, those very qualities are at least part of what makes the culture so appealing to so many folks.
Happily, hip-hop has also generated a body of exemplary critical commentary from the very beginning. For over thirty years now, critics and journalists who came of age as hip-hoppers have wrestled with the music’s sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and materialism… and have done so with love, from inside the culture.
Naturally, the music’s sexism has been particularly vexing to women, and doubly vexing to women of color. In a review for the Village Voice in 1990 of Amerikka’s Most Wanted, the first solo album by Ice Cube, the critic Joan Morgan quotes a girlfriend of hers as follows: “Joan, you know this motherfucka must be bad if he can scream ‘bitch’ at me ninety-nine times and make me want to sing it.”
To Chuck D, though, it wasn’t a problem—at least not then. Women had R&B, he argued. White men had rock. Rap was by and for Black men. End of discussion.
This month saw the US release of the newest installment in the DC Comics film franchise, Joker. The film has been the subject of heated debate, with some having enormously positive responses, and others having enormously negative ones. Some see it as just a well-done villain origin story. Others see it as bringing more light to mental health and social support systems. And yet others see it as humanizing and even valorizing white male violence and the mass killings that have become too common in the contemporary US landscape.
We thought we would gather up some philosophers working on ethics and the philosophy of art to give their takes on the movie. Below, you’ll see what they have to say about how Joker treats villainy and evil, race, and moral responsibility, as well as what we should learn from all of the debate and disagreement that surrounds it.
Sterling HolyWhiteMountain interviewed by Matt Strohl
Sterling HolyWhiteMountain grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation in northwest Montana. He holds a BA in English creative writing from the University of Montana and an MFA in fiction from the University of Iowa. He was also a James C. McCreight Fiction Fellow at the University of Wisconsin. His work has appeared in volumes 1 and 2 of Off the Path: An Anthology of 21st Century American Indian and Indigenous Writers, The Montana Quarterly, ESPN.com and The Atlantic. Prior to being a Stegner Fellow he directed the writing center at Blackfeet Community College. He is currently at work on a collection of stories. Continue reading
The following post appears as part of a partnership with the APA Blog. The original appears here.
Having recently viewed Jordan Peele’s award-winning Get Out (2017), political theorist Derefe Kimarley Chevannes was prompted to discuss the film with philosopher Lewis Gordon, whose writings include discussions of race in horror films and literature. Continue reading
What follows is a guest post by Charles Peterson (Oberlin College)
As Walter Mosley observes in his essay “Black to the Future,” the genre(s) of science fiction/fantasy neé Afro-futurism speak clearly to the dissatisfied through their power to imagine the first step in changing the world:
Black people have been cut off from their African ancestry by the scythe of slavery and from an American heritage by being excluded from history. For us, science fiction offers an alternative where that which deviates from the norm is the norm.
As such, African-descended people have long understood and utilized the power of narrative to generate the images and ideas that will spark the liberatory imaginings of the sufferers. Particularly in the realms of the fantastic have characters, scenarios, and worlds been constructed to expose the truths of the world as it is and reveal the possibilities of worlds that could be. The figures of Anansi, Brer Rabbit, Nanny of the Maroons (who, though a historical figure, has risen to mythic proportions), John Henry, Shine, and many other figures casting spells thru the genres of proverbs, folklore, folk tales, song, short story, novel, graphic literature and movies have served as prompts to address the spoken and unspoken realities of their respective times and communities. The Ryan Coogler-directed addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther steps momentously into this tradition. Continue reading
What follows is a guest post by Nils-Hennes Stear (University of Michigan)
Last July, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (BMFA) put on an exhibition featuring Claude Monet’s La Japonaise (1875), a painting of Camille, Monet’s wife, dressed in a resplendent red kimono. For some of that period, the museum also invited visitors to “dress up” in a replica of the depicted kimono beside the painting, to take selfies, and share them with the museum. Protestors accused the BMFA of Orientalism and cultural appropriation, after which the museum cancelled the dress-up activity in favour of one in which visitors could interact with the garment in other ways. More details about the case are here and here.