November 25, 2012

Gates' View on Race

I found Gates’ writing on race to be very attention-grabbing and well thought out. He gave great examples all throughout his article that helped drive his theory on race and cultures home. For example in his introduction to “Race”, Writing, and Difference, Gates shows how “race” has been “written” into reality as a way of keeping racially marked populations in underling places. Portrayals of race in text have been seen all the way through the Nineteenth and have been sought after to “naturalize” and therefore legitimize the different races as essentially inferior. “Race, in these usages”, Gates writes, “pretends to be an objective term of classification, when in fact it is a dangerous trope”(5).

Gates’ takes on a sort of possessive position in dispute for the financial foundation of racial repression. “Literacy, as I hope to demonstrate, is the emblem that links racial alienation with economic alienation” (6). Gate’s most important line of reasoning here is that slaves are denied to “right to write”, and they are banned from the any other opportunities open to educated whites. “Black people and other people of color”, Gates says, “could not write”. Gates illustrates in the article about how the greater part of leading enlightenment thinkers such as Kant, Hume, and Hegel denied third world people the access to the perception of “reason” that undergoes their idealistic studies.

I think what Gates is trying to accomplish is not so much an equality of “black” and “white” literature, but a degree of opposition of the different ways by which “blackness” and “whiteness” have become understood.

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