Monday, October 28, 2002
Shelby Steele writes in A Dream Deferred:
"It was always the collectivizing mark of race that kept blacks from a full engagement with this difficulty and that held them back from the freedom in which, as Naipaul put it, "it was necessary to be an individual and responsible." Racial oppression imposes nonindividuality on its victims, tells them they will achieve no self, no singularity, that will ever supersede the mark of their race. This surely is the opposite of happiness, this confinement of the self inside of color. The early civil rights movement -- grounded in freedom-focused liberalism -- saw the mark of race as anathema to freedom, to the individual, and to the pursuit of happiness. It wanted freedom from racial determinism, therefore, it was a struggle for the black individual and against his or her race as a political determinism. This was how the great movement saw to bring blacks into the difficulty of a true and unencumbered pursuit of happiness.
But then, in the mid-sixties when greater freedom came, the nation changed its preoccupation to redemption and to the proactive reform by which it hoped to show itself redeemed. And here, in the idea of systemic and structural interventionism as a means to black uplift and white redemption, is where things begin to go wrong for blacks. Here is where our agency over our own fate was traded away, so that happiness was not something the individual pursued but something the group waited for. Worse, these race-conscience interventions once again submerged the individual in his or her race, deindividualized him or her, and, ultimately, obsessed the nation with group identities."
What do you think?
Drop me a line. Roger Wong
posted by Roger |