Questions/comments between you and Nathalie, your excellent Teaching Assistant, on Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks and William’s The Alchemy of Race
Nathalie’s comments are in italics.

I wanted to ask about Fanon's inclusion of so much poetry in that reading. Was he trying to say something about black experience by using poetry as a vehicle and how much of it, if any was his own work? That's something that we haven't seen in the other readings, and I thought it was interesting, especially since he discussed rhythm, as well. I know black people are often characterized as having more rhythm than white people, but what then does this say about the source of poetry, and why is he finding other ways of defining black experience? Isn't his hope to dissolve it as anything different from white experience into a general human experience?
I don’t know what exactly he is trying to do with the poetry, but I know he was very influenced by African literature. I think his hope is as you are saying, but maybe he uses poetry to portray the feeling of being isolated and othered in the eyes of white people. These things are open to interpretation and with these kinds of works, if you can make a good logical argument for why he is using a particular style that is good enough.

Williams: I was unclear about what exactly she was trying to do within the legal system. Is she saying that legal rhetoric and discourse also construct racial differences in some way and she wanted to find ways to break those discourses down?
Yes, she is saying exactly that. You nailed it!

My question for this weeks readings is in regards to Fanon. He discusses his Hegelian conflict/struggle of being "three people".. can you elucidate upon this for me? I'm not sure what he is referring to.
I think he means that it is not simply that the white man sees himself through the black man but that black people see one another through each other and through the white man, so there are actually 3 people involved, 2 black men who struggle to see themselves through each other and then also through whiteness. Simply put, he is complicating the dialectic structure.

It seems to me that Fanon and Williams both write about their struggle to determine their own identities within societies that define them in ways that they do not feel to be true.
Both of these theorists express the difficulties in trying to deal with overlapping social categories. Of course, the main discussion is about race, but the gender categories also seem very relevant.
Fanon seems strongly influenced also by his experience of division between his home, Martinique, and its colonial "mother" country, France.
I also wonder how the struggle for independence in Algeria relates to Fanon's discussion of race. Is the fight for political independence also an indication of racial tensions?
Very nicely put. The struggle for independence relates to race because exactly like you said in his time in Algeria he saw the struggle for independence also related to racial tensions. This comes out in some of his other writings if you are interested such as The Wretched of the Earth.
One thing that confused me about today's readings is that the authors' focus was so specific. Compared to the more universal theories that we have been reading these seemed exceptionally focused. Can we take the points made by the authors and more generally apply them to wider discussions about race? What about other social categories?
One thing to ask is specific about what? To their own experiences? Remember these are not anthropologists and they are reflecting about their own lives. The points they present though are valuable for race, gender and post-colonial studies because they reveal tensions that people feel when they are categorized, and how power is internalized in individuals. So they are valuable to show the workings of power and what power does to race, gender, ethnicity, and how it is used in colonial settings. Fanon’s work for example, is applied to studies on the liberation movements of Palestinians, and African Americans (those are the ones I know of).

How do people justify the idea of ‘antiwill’? What examples do they give for people accepting to live this way and causing themselves to have a hard life?
I think anti-will appears in Williams, unless it does to in Fanon and I missed it. Let me know what page. What Williams is saying about anti-will (as in no self-discipline, self-control ect...) is that it used as a category to classify black people and justify their behavior. She is saying that instead of realizing the structural position of people who live in poverty, these people are instead blamed themselves because they are seen as not having will or determination. Thus anti-will becomes a characteristic of the black person.

So is Williams saying that race is an important factor in the way people perceive law? Is she pointing out the fact that the role of the law is seen as impartial but is actually subjective to certain peoples? I wasn’t really clear on this point.
She is saying law plays a role in reinforcing racial categories, and that the law itself contains categories that it leaves unexamined, such as race, and thus continues to use it uncritically and amplify the problem. So yes, she is pointing to the fact that the law is actually very subjective and works with “bad” categories without being critical of them.

What exactly does Williams mean by "anti-will" and how does she say it should be used?
What Williams is saying about anti-will (as in no self-discipline, self-control ect...) is that it used as a category to classify black people and justify their behavior. She is saying that instead of realizing the structural position of people who live in poverty, these people are instead blamed themselves because they are seen as not having will or determination. Thus anti-will becomes a characteristic of the black person. So the stories of the pregnant teenagers illustrate that instead of realizing the structural position these people are in, society sees them as having no will over themselves and their lives, and thus they keep causing problems for themselves. So, its not tthat it should be used, its that it is used in a very destructive way, to the point where she says it becomes internalized in people upon whom it is cast.

I find WIlliams' comparison of the general conception of race to the rhetoric of Anglo-American theoretical legal understandings very interesting (definitional polarities, universal "truths", etc.), but how exactly does she suggest that these things be overcome? She concludes with the empowering nature of rights, but how exactly does Williams propose our society can "reconceptualize 'objective truth'" and achieve a "more nuanced sense of legal and social responsibility"?
I think she would say that for these things to be overcome we would have to look categories law uses very critically, and ask what assumptions they are making, and what they take for granted, whom they include and exclude ect…she does this with property law, bringing out the ways in which they objectify and categorize everything, under the guise of rights ect…so in a sense she is being very critical of rights themselves, and on some level I think she is saying that very discourse of rights legitimizes some people and leaves out others.

This is more of a theoretical question...why did it take so long for race to be noticed? Why was gender recognized before race?
This is a good question. I think it is both an issue of the boundaries of the discipline itself, and also who was practicing it. Remember at some point in the semester we said that anthropology for a long time did kinship and religion. I think race was studied by sociologists because it was “doing work at home”. However, later, the boundaries of the discipline get more blurred, and as anthropologists notice that their own countries “have culture too” they begin to pay attention to race. I think gender was noticed first, because there was an increase in women anthropologists in the discipline and they began to ask “where are the women in ethnographies?” However, as they began to look at women, combined with realizing their own societies has culture, they began to think of gender in conjunction with other things like race in class, and there was a realization that you have to take these things into account too, because for example, the experience of an African-American woman in the US, is not the same as an Asian-America one etc….
How is Fanon's work linked to Mary Douglas' works?
I think we can see in Fanon a sense that he portrays himself as a “misfit” in society, or that is the way other people viewed him. This comes out strongly for me when he portrays the little boy telling his mum that “there is a black man”. So in a sense, he was an anomaly, people didn’t know what to do with him, they could not easily categorize him, and Douglas is interested in the people/things/concepts that do not fit society’s categories, and what people do with them.
Were the polar bears in William's work representing the power the white people have or the strength that black people had?
I think the polar bears metaphor can be open to interpretation. At first I thought it simply was a metaphor for white men, but the more I think of it, I feel like she is doing more with it. I think the polar bear is a representation of both blacks and whites, and also of herself, being stuck between the two, sometimes defined by others as “acting white” sometimes seen as “black” depending on the situation and who wants to see her that way. For example, she describes that she is a black woman, yet she is a lawyer, and the law is very “white, and the polar bear has black skin, but is covered in white fur to protect him from the harsh cold and snow, so in a sense here her knowledge of law allows her to survive the white world. So I think she is using it very strategically to be able to portray the complexities of her existence, and how she can move between black/white worlds, slipping into one or both when necessary, both by her, and when other people need her to do so, so that they can understand her.

I was wondering if the “maps” discussion in lecture were an example for the construction of difference or a point made specifically on how maps create the notion of nation sates through differences; hence the extension to Gupta’s and Ferguson’s point on Anthropology. Should we focus on the maps per se or use it as an example to understand the theory?
I would not focus on them per se, but use them as a tool to think through theory.

Also, are Gupta and Ferguson discussing the specific influence of anthropologist to the notion of nation sates and “the primordial moment of purity”? I got confused in what their input/insight/importance and point for this class was.
Not anthropologists necessarily, but the way people started rationalizing difference, and anthropologists too had a hand in that because they represented cultures as bounded and isolated and distinct from one another. The primordial moment of purity is the where we assume that at the beginning of time all people were different and then we started mixing. This is important for this class, because categories of race/gender/ class etc… are constructed using notions of difference. SO once we can break down the notion of difference itself and what constitutes it we can begin to critically analyze these categories.

We discussed that the study of race, gender, and sexuality have in common that they are linked with power. However, when I read Fanon a sense more of conflict than power. At least of power understood as not possessed i.e. Gramsci –Foucault.
Right, I can see that. His writing portrays a sense of conflict with himself ( I don’t know of that is where are you are seeing conflict) but it is conflict he has because of how the category of race is linked with gender. Does that make sense?

I got extremely, probably too much, caught up with William’s Polar bear metaphor. Is she talking about polar bears as power (something like the fluidity of power?) she talks about rights as being islands of empowerment and then suggests a “wilderness of islands. A conspiracy of Polar bears” then she again refers of her as ‘silent’ among polar bears and their territoriality and pride. Now, I am thinking of it as her being surrounded by not whiteness necessarily, but a system of power relations in which she can talk- have rights yet still somewhat submissive to it. I hope this is not OBVIOUS for everyone or completely out of the picture
It is not completely out of the picture. The polar bear metaphor is open to analysis I think, and as long as you can make a strong argument for a certain explanation you then it’s fine. I think you are right actually I saw it in a similar way. . I think the polar bear is a representation of both blacks and whites, and also of herself, being stuck between the two, sometimes defined by others as “acting white” sometimes seen as “black” depending on the situation and who wants to see her that way. For example, she describes that she is a black woman, yet she is a lawyer, and the law is very “white, and the polar bear has black skin, but is covered in white fur to protect him from the harsh cold and snow, so in a sense here her knowledge of law allows her to survive the white world. So I think she is using it very strategically to be able to portray the complexities of her existence, and how she can move between black/white worlds, slipping into one or both when necessary, both by her, and when other people need her to do so, so that they can understand her.

This can also have nothing to do but do you think that the analogy of polar bears might have anything to do with the “fact” that polar bears’ fur is transparent - colorless but appears white through the light and whatnot?
Yes, it can certainly be that, given that sometimes people see her as black, sometimes as white, so in a sense she is slipping between the two worlds, back and forth, sometimes perceived as one color, sometimes as the other.

I am still not exactly sure what Williams' "theory of power" is in relation to human agency. It seems to take a step backwards in the discussion where it assumes that everyone follows the law.
I don’t think it is assuming that everyone follows the law. Rather, I think her point is that the law uses categories uncritically, and because they are encompassed within what is considered very legitimate law, the categories are reinforced and start to be very powerful. In a way the law naturalizes them. Fanon also seems to credit human subconscious more then conscious decision-making. What, if any, is his view on agency in relation to power in this cultural suppression?
I think Fanon gives human agency much importance. In the selection we read, but more in the book overall, he is calling for resistance to hegemony. His writing can be seen too as a way in which he himself is struggling and trying to overcome the internalized marking of power that have been imposed upon him though the category of race and the colonized. Remember too, his role in the Algerian revolution, and his belief that colonized people can fight the colonizers. This shows that he believes that human agency can overcome the power of suppression.

I was wondering if Fanon and Williams believe that the system treats all people of the same ethnicity the same way. Do they think that, under the systems (from the perspective of the "law") they work under, there is no individual experience? Just an experience of how one's identity is according to their "race"? Or are they saying that there is a commonality in each individual experience?
I think they would say that there is an individual experience, because they are both simultaneously talking about their own experience, bringing out the similarities they are subjected to as a “race” but also their individual experiences that allow them to be part of both black and white worlds. So they experience things because they are a certain race, but they know that their experience is also colored by their specific positions in society, Williams being a lawyer and Fanon a doctor.

Do humans always feel a need to find differences? If everyone was color blind (literally, as in no one could perceive color), what kinds of differences would we focus on then? Is it possible to say that humans have an innate tendency to find differences, even when these differences may not be real, and that we then use these different categories to create hierarchy?
I think people not always but most of the time need to find difference, not because it is an innate tendency but because we have been culturally acquired to do so. Everything around us is about difference (for example the way we are taught history and geography, think about this in relation to the discussion on maps and countries in lecture.) If we were color blind, I still think we’d find another way to categorize based on difference. I heard this story once that in an anthro class people were given 10 pens and told to group them in some way. Because people were very conscious about race and new it was not politically correct to group by color, they ended up grouping the pens by size. No one even suggested the possibility of just keeping the 10 pens in one group and saying they are already a group. They all found a way to break them into smaller groups. So even if color blindness existed, or even when people know it’s wrong to think in terms of color, they find some other way to create difference. But again not because it is innate, but because we are so strongly socialized into doing so.

In Williams’ article, I believe that the polar bears represent a debate about blame. I always hear that there are more minorities living in poor areas, more minorities incarcerated, and more minorities who are undereducated than white people in the United States. Regardless of why or even whether these statements are true, there is so much controversy about what may cause these disparities between whites and minorities. While some people may argue that there is something inherent about minority populations that just makes them more likely to be poor and commit crime, it is obvious that it is indeed historical factors of racism and oppression that have often created worse living situations for them in America. Similarly, some saw the polar bear in Williams’ story as innocent, just acting from instinct, and therefore they blamed the boy who was killed for his lack of judgment. Others blame the polar bear’s ferocity and see the boy as the innocent one. In this situation, the two sides see very different issues and place blame definitively on one actor or the other. This parallels a lot of the debates about perceived racial differences, and that is what I think the polar bears represent. I am not sure if I am right, so if there are other interpretations, I’d love to hear them!
You present an interesting point for the meaning of the polar bear metaphor. Many people asked about it, and what I am telling everyone is that I think this is open to interpretation and as long as you make a strong argument for it, then it’s a valid point, which you make very nicely, bringing out the structural position vs. something innate or what Williams calls anti-will. I first thought the polar bears represented whiteness but then I thought about it some more and here is what I think: I think the polar bear is a representation of both blacks and whites, and also of herself, being stuck between the two, sometimes defined by others as “acting white” sometimes seen as “black” depending on the situation and who wants to see her that way. For example, she describes that she is a black woman, yet she is a lawyer, and the law is very “white, and the polar bear has black skin, but is covered in white fur to protect him from the harsh cold and snow, so in a sense here her knowledge of law allows her to survive the white world. So I think she is using it very strategically to be able to portray the complexities of her existence, and how she can move between black/white worlds, slipping into one or both when necessary, both by her, and when other people need her to do so, so that they can understand her.

I was wondering, so is the relationship between power and all of these concepts (race, gender, sexuality, sex) that power dynamics establish the concept we currently have that these things are all operating in a set binary? Are we able to see specific reasons for why the two oppositions exists in each idea (ie, male versus female) as opposed to any other? I suppose in the case of race, you could argue that "blacks" are oppressed because their enslavement had to be justified by "whites," so they had to be seen as an "other;" the situation with women appears to be similar. However, I have a harder time seeing the motivation for not allowing any deviation from sex/sexuality--I don't really see who has to "gain" from that, if you will.
One of the things that power does is naturalize these things as binaries, yes. It also works to internalize these things within us. So one of the reasons we think of these things is being only binaries is because of power and how it operates. One of the motivations for sex/sexuality would be to control populations, but there are others too. We can continue thinking about them in class.

I really really like critical race theory. That is, I like it because I understand it and I can easily see how it applies to everyday life. I wonder though, do these theorists acknowledge that social categories extend beyond race, gender, and sexuality (since that is all we talked about in class). That sometimes categories are more subtle? That sometimes one category is vitally important and others, even others as prominent as gender, don't really matter is some contexts? That sometimes social categories, unlike race and gender, are very much hidden but nonetheless shape how we interact within society?
I’m not sure what you are thinking about but I would say I don’t know if they necessarily acknowledge it, but that certainly their work has been used in other contexts and applied to other categories. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on when categories matter and when they don’t depending on the context, and what kinds of categories you are thinking about in as more subtle.

I guess another thing that I think about, and I'm not sure this is valid or correct, is how certain romantic relationships where the partner are considered to be in different race categories are considered more "ok" then others. For example, I feel like some individuals (let me be clear, I do not believe what I am about to say is true, I believe that other people believe it is true) that an Asian woman and a white man in a relationship is more "ok" than, for example, a white woman and a black man; also, how a white man and a hispanic woman is "ok," but a hispanic man and a white woman is less "ok"
This is a really good point. I think about it often because my project looks at married couples from different religious sects in Lebanon and one of the questions I’m trying to figure out is why some combinations are more “ok” than others, or more acceptable in peoples’ minds. I think we can come up with an answer if we look at history, and things that happened in society that naturalized these categories so that they became ok. For example, in Lebanon the more I dig into it, the more I am finding out that which marital alliances are considered acceptable follow the pattern of political alliances and those have changed over time, so over the course of many years for example, it has become more ok for Sunnis to marry Christians, than for Sunnis to marry Shiites. It’s also gender related where it’s more ok for a Sunni man to marry a Christian woman, but not vice versa. So I think there is a similar pattern in the US, maybe a not political pattern, but maybe migration patterns or something like that. But these patterns which we often see unrelated actually are very powerful in letting people know what unions are “ok” or even “natural.”

What I thought was very interesting about the reading from this week was one of the points in the reading from Williams. On pages 8 and 9, Williams writes about the existence of "objective" voices, such as those of judges and lawyers. I thought this was interesting in the context of Fanon's writing, where he talked about the mechanisms through which black people are dehumanized and racism is normalized. One of those mechanisms must be the law, where people like judges can tell us things that will be taken as true, even if it is later proven otherwise. It's problematic that we give so much power to certain people because of the fact that they can choose to do anything with it, including justifying racism.
Really nicely put. I think how you link the two through the mechanism of law is really interesting.

1Fanon illustrates the psychological results of racism by using his own experiences in a very interesting way. One quote that struck me was the following: "Without a Negro past, without a Negro future, it was impossible for me to live my Negrohood. Not yet white, no longer wholly black, I was damned" (138). Here, he shows what kind of impact that constantly being marked in terms of his race has on his identity. Thus, Fanon uses his personal experience to demonstrate the effects that the power structure of race has on other black people. This power structure suggests that there exists the feeling among black people that while they have progressed in terms of their equality with other races, there will still exist a feeling of inferiority that they are not on the same level with white people.
Interesting how you link Fanon and Williams through the law.

Patricia Williams discusses the way in which in the legal profession, there is often a gap between legal understanding and a more subjective viewpoint of social construction, namely, how more personal aspects like race and gender play a role in this context. Does she suggest that within a legal context, lawyers should partially let go of their objective viewpoints and allow room for the emotional and more personal aspects of people's lives and identities?
What she is suggesting is that on some level objective viewpoints don’t exist and that categories are filled with inherent assumptions about race and gender. So it’s not about allowing emotional and personal aspects but realizing how categories of law are filled with constructions that naturalize categories such as race and gender.

My question for this week's reading is about Patricia William's theory of "anti-will". What I got from her article is that this notion of "anti-will" goes against the belief that white people dominating black people comes from the former's pure will and the latter shouldn't have any control in their lives but be subordinated to the will of white people. So I feel that this "anti-will" argument would encourage black people in their battle against whiteness supremacy and authority. However, I am not quite sure about what i got from the reading. Could you help me make sure whether i get it right and probably give me hint for the writing assignment? I want to develop assumption and implication based on this "anti-will" argument.
Yes, you are correct. Another important point is too is that black people internalize this feeling of anti-will because it so powerful, they come to believe it themselves, which makes it all the more dangerous, because it is so naturalized.

One of the first things that I noticed after reading Franz Fanon’s work entitled“Black Skin, White Masks” was how his theories and ideas seemed so Hegelian. The only way to have self consciousness is through others. He looked at the white race and talked about how they would compare themselves to blacks to rank themselves. This gave white people the power because they would feel so much better than all the other races. He even talked about how some laboratories were trying to help blacks change the color of their skin to white so they would be as good as the white race. This also made it possible for blacks to know themselves as well by knowing they were thought of as lesser than compared to the whites.
You are right they are Hegelian. But he is going a step further complicating the Hegelian dialectic in a way, showing that the relationship is not that straightforward. As you say it’s not only a matter of the different races comparing themselves to each other, but also comparisons within the race.

I found Patricia Williams' writing interesting when she talked about her "fate" after reading her birth certificate. I found it funny how she related it to her horoscope, and by knowing her exact birth hour will help her fulfill her "destiny." She describes how her first and last names were common in the 50's in the US, making it seem like this was her way of fitting in with the majority of whites. It is also interesting how her last name comes from a white man who used to own slaves. This part of her writing shows how her identity was determined by others, and not by her own choice.
Yes, indeed. Interesting read. Nicely said.

I don't have so much a question as I want to clarify that in the Fanon reading, he's basically saying that people internalize racial differences making the black man believe what the white man says about him, which reinforces the power structure. Which ultimately is a lot like Foucault.
Yes, Very nicely said !

In the reading by Patricia Williams I wanted to ask about the polar bear metaphor. At first I wasn't sure what she meant by polar bears, but when she described the story she was told about them and how they believed that the entire world was there for their own personal use it seemed to me as though she was describing white people. Is this what she meant? Her writing did not seem extremely critical of white people, but if the polar bear metaphor was meant to represent whites, then it gives her work a much more harsh tone even though the metaphor seemed pretty subtle.
Many people asked about this. I think this metaphor is open to interpretation, and as long as you can make a logical argument for what she means you are good. Here is what I told others and how I am now thinking about it. Other people interpreted it differently though so make sure to read through the comments when they are posted on the website.At first I thought it simply was a metaphor for white men, but the more I think of it, I feel like she is doing more with it. I think the polar bear is a representation of both blacks and whites, and also of herself, being stuck between the two, sometimes defined by others as “acting white” sometimes seen as “black” depending on the situation and who wants to see her that way. For example, she describes that she is a black woman, yet she is a lawyer, and the law is very “white, and the polar bear has black skin, but is covered in white fur to protect him from the harsh cold and snow, so in a sense here her knowledge of law allows her to survive the white world. So I think she is using it very strategically to be able to portray the complexities of her existence, and how she can move between black/white worlds, slipping into one or both when necessary, both by her, and when other people need her to do so, so that they can understand her.

I was wondering if you may have an insight into the context and importance of these terms. ('rehabilitory vice' or 'anti-will')I thought maybe that Anti-will pertained to the notion that the master-slave dialectic assumes, which is that slaves and masters are mutually dependent. Which Williams argues is completely misleading and far from the truth. So is anti-will simply the false assumption that if you are of an oppressed race then people assume you are relatively helpless and dependent on the oppressor?
What Williams is saying about anti-will (as in no self-discipline, self-control etc…) is that it used as a category to classify black people and justify their behavior. She is saying that instead of realizing the structural position of people who live in poverty, these people are instead blamed themselves because they are seen as not having will or determination. Thus anti-will becomes a characteristic of the black person, and power naturalizes it so that both the people whom it is cast upon and others believe it is the source of the problem, as if they have a vice that needs to be cured or something. At least that’s how I read it. In terms of comments, When Fanon was talking about the notion of racial pressure, as when a person of an oppressed and stigmatized race gets a high qualifying job such as a doctor ( I think this is his example), then there is internal pressure to represent the race well. It reminded me of the position I feel Obama is in. As the first black president in the U.S. I feel like he is pressured from both the inside to represent his 'race' in a good light and also from the outside not to represent certain negative characteristics that society has projected upon black people. This highlights the interesting and complex relationship between being a person that represents a stigmatized category and the pressure from inside his/or/hers group to mediate for both the inside and outside. Is this what Williams was referring to when she wrote about drifting in and out of her own shadow? Was she referring to the mediating role between self identity and societal impressions about a person according to their race. These impressions affect how a person conceives of and represents themself. I was also thinking about how Fanon expresses that once he found release and confidence in his own heritage it was then appropriated into mainstream society. All the time US society uses what originates first in black culture as a tool to market products to young people. This reminded me of when Williams said that as a black, female, lawyer she was thought of as marginalized and 'trendy'. Williams position was a rejection of the stereotype that all lawyers are white and male. This rejection put her in the 'cool' category. Yet, once everyone adopts something as 'fashionable' it can then be used as a tool to oppress. This is an odd relationship between the power that people invest into something as being anti-stereotypical and the transformation that allows these same notions of anti-stereotypes to then become stereotypes. Williams was stereotyped as representing certain characteristics of a person actively rejecting stereotypes. Just like when Fanon refers to cultural appropriation. Once something is brought into the mainstream, such as hip hop, it then works back on culture and provides certain expectations for how black people should be. With Williams, people expect her to behave a certain way as a black female lawyer. Society expects Williams to live up to the trendy stereotypes of her position. These examples identify how restrictive it can be to generalize about people according to categories of person such as race and gender. People are much more than just their race and gender. These categories offer only one dimensional interpretations of people based on what people know in general about a category such as black or female. The category is assumed to make the person, rather than people making the categories and projecting them onto the person.
Great examples. P.S: You are right about Williams in your question above. Nicely said.

My comment relates to William's writing. The place of racial constructions in the current, western system of power constitutes a certain norm, as we have been studying. I was thinking about Foucault's Panopticon model of power, in relation to the power structures of communities that do not privilege the State as the center. In certain areas, such as favelas in Brazil or certain "slums" in this country, the community has its own established axial visibilities. In areas where the community, may privilege a certain boss or gang as the axial center of power, there exists a certain conflict with the State, (the community structures being seen as lateral visibilities) attempting to privilege itself instead. I was watching a television show recently, in which the city government is trying to arrest a drug lord in the projects. They are constantly arresting black men involved in the drug ring, but their main goal is to arrest the leader for a series of unsolved homicides. Thinking about the juridical discourse, as discussed by Williams, I applied it to the situation in the show. Although the police officers and courts are attempting to arrest and punish these black men for breaking the law, the cycle will continue. Unless the system of power and the status of the truth concerning the construction of "blackness" change, the reality of an urban poor existence will continue. Just as a President will be elected every four years, an individual in the slum environment will continuously be in power, sustaining the privileged system in these areas. To arrest man after man after man for breaking a law that is not privileged in a certain reality, will not solve the problem as the whole system will continue....Therefore one realizes even more so how the system must transform for any kind of "change" in reality to occur. (Culture and the embodiment of its norms are no small things to try to understand!)
Wow ! Linking Foucault and critical race theory, and theories about the state in one example. Great job. I’m glad the material is speaking to you and helping to look at your field site/ interests. Very interesting example, as always!

Does Williams recognize how much race is a social construction and the inability/ unwillingness of some of those around her (primarily white men it seems) to recognize it as well? She seems to be very frustrated with the lack of realization which goes on around her, but seems to keep such frustrations to herself. Was writing this works simply an act of frustration about such feelings, or is she actually trying to change the racial norms which govern society?
I think she does for sure. I think the book is more than trying to channel her frustration, but she is actively trying to change racial norms, especially laws and their unexamined categories. The style of the book though allows for the multiple voices/identities to be better expressed, and shows how intricate nuanced and subtle they are, and how many powerful things they are affected by. But that is just my opinion. There might be other reasons.

On another note, when we spoke in class the other day about filling out the race part of forms, I wondered if other cultures are as particular about such categorizations as Americans are, or what other kinds of "race categories" exist in other kinds of cultures and societies. As someone who has experience in another culture, could you offer any insight?
I’ve certainly experienced other “race” categories. An example I can think of in Lebanon is that some people contest that they are of “Arab race” saying that their origin is actually “Phoenician.” Another example that operates much like race is religious sects people belong to. They claim that they are different to the point where they won’t marry each other even though they are all Lebanese. In fact, on all forms you have to fill by the Lebanese government you check what your religion is. So in many ways the category of religion operated like race. In France, the form you fill in has different “races” listed etc…Hope this helps.

My question this week has to do with how people perceive race/ethnicity based off of skin color. Why is it that because skin color is so obvious when you see someone that people came to judge/make judgments about people because of it? Also, I think it would be helpful for us to go over the difference between race and ethnicity like we did with sex and gender- a lot of people almost see them as the same term when they're not. The answer to your question should be clear by now because of the way we have been looking at power and what it does to naturalize categories like race and gender. For the difference between race and ethnicity in general race is related to characteristics like skin color, eye/hair color and quality, in general just differences based on physical appearance that get naturalized to be about other differences. Ethnicity relates to cultural factors such as nationality, culture, language etc…so for example notice the way we say ethnic food not racial food. That said, these categories have been criticized and analyzed especially by sociologists. Some use them like they are and some see a problem of separating the two.
I felt overall that the readings speak truth even in today's world. While we like to think of our world today as no longer having as much racism, we still do. I remember once in high school I had this friend who was an African American, and her and her twin brother were often said to be "acting white" because they would often speak in standard English compared to the "African American English" (the difference between the two I learned about in Language and Gender lectures). The ironic thing was that it was often African Americans telling her that she was acting white. Overall, I felt like these articles referred to this, especially William's.
True, Williams does bring out nicely how complicated this whole matter being perceived as black or white, depending on the circumstances is. I don’t have any experience in high schools here but I am sure these things still go on. If you are interested in this, linguistic anthropologists have many interesting articles on it.

I think I'm a little unsure of how power relates to race theory. Is it referring to how social constructions are created and have power over people's lives? Or is it possible it's referring to how race has a role for power in relationships? I know we talked about it a little with gender and sexuality but it's still not completely clear to me. And we didn't get to talk in lecture about the reading by Williams and I hope we can go over that in the next discussion, just to make sure I'm not missing any other key points or connections that weren't in the slides.
Yes, basically that categories like race are naturalized by power so that they come to have so much power over our lives. So for example, in the Williams reading, she is showing that even the law and its categories encompass ideas about race that are not critically looked at. We will talk more about it in discussion.

In the lecture notes for race, what does it mean that Patricia Williams/ the professor say "race and other markers of social difference are key elements shaping people’s experiences within the legal system"?
It means that the law uses categories of race and integrates them into the way the law is written, without critically examining them, and thus the very category of race is reinforced through law.

Similarly, Patricia Williams says race is a very important determinant of the legal system. Does she mean that the reason why people made laws was because they needed a way to resolve living in a world of different races (bring order)?
Not really, it means that race and its categories are written into the legal system, and thus we continue living in a world with these categories applying to us without really ever being critically looked at.

Fanon's feeling of alienation and internalized cultural values that create a disparate body and consciousness are very powerful. Fanon, in order to shed the perceived evilness of being black, makes himself think that he lives in a society of equality not based on appearances by wearing a white mask.
Nicely said. But he is also calling for the realization of how much these cultural values are internalized, and that it shouldn’t be that black people have to wear white masks. By looking at power we can see the mechanisms of how these cultural values are internalized in the first place.

What time frames, roughly, did the two readings for Tuesday have for their authors? While both were great aspects of being non-white in a white male dominated society, the humor from the doctor seems a bit more ironic, and the lawyers is very cynical but personal. For an up and coming anthropologist, what aspects might we have missed for both of the readings, whether in the text that was not assigned in those pages or that may have been glossed over?
For Fanon he is writing in the 1950’s I think the book is published in 1952 written first in French and then translated later to English, and if I am not mistaken the setting is him as a black man from Martinique being confronted by French colonialism and racism. For Williams it’s much later I think in 1991and she is writing in the context of the US. For me to tell me what you missed, you have to tell me what you think you got out of it, but taking the two books together and the very different contexts they were written as, for me as an up and coming anthropologist, it made me think about how the black experience is strikingly similar in vastly different places, but also so particular and personal, as you say in your comment. I think what is important to notice as anthropologists is how these categories are institutionalized (whether in law or other institutions like medicine, and here I’m thinking of medication specifically target at a certain “race) without ever being critically examined or broken down.

In the beginning of the section of Williams' Alchemy of Race that we read, when she says that she "became nonblack for purposes of inclusion and black for purposes of exclusion" is her point to highlight the fact that racism always exists in society regardless of whether people try to ignore or bypass it?
I think her point is that because she is a lawyer she was perceived as being white sometimes when people associated her “lawyerness” with whiteness and black when they basically saw her skin color. The point is that people associate what they want with blackness and whiteness, or at least are taught to associate some things with a certain race and some other things with another race.

I also think it's interesting that Fanon relates to Hegel (in the very beginning of the section we read), as he says that people only understand themselves by their race when they know people of other racial color in the sense that he says that a black man only understands himself as black when he can compare himself to someone who is defined otherwise. It seems to be that, in almost all scenarios, an opposite or something different is needed in order to understand yourself or a concept such as race. Hegel seems to be relevant in almost every scenario.
Indeed, he is very relevant and that is why we read him in the beginning and had to go through very complex writing but it is worth it. Fanon uses Hegel really well and even complicates him further if that is possible !

Central to Fanon's argument is the idea that it seems impossible for Blacks to define themselves through the eyes of anyone other than Whites, that the White "othering" of Blacks is central to the Black experience. On P. 139, "The Negro's" expression of internalized guilt to Lizzie hearkens back to the theories of Foucault and Gramsci where a person becomes their own best source of "discipline (Foucault) and comes to understand themselves only in relation to the hegemonic class (Gramsci). In these ways, Whites needn't exert large quantities of overt and explicit power in order to effect Blacks' repression; he need simply to find him wanting, look down on him, deny him equal footing by virtue of his skin color. Another interesting perspective of Fanon's are the similarities and differences between the experience of Jews and Blacks was not, according to Fanon's professor (P. 122) in relation to shared experience but rather that they were viewed through the same eyes (anti-Semites are also racist). Thus the hegemonic class has the power of definition, some, like Gramsci, might argue that this power to define context hegemonically is the ultimate power.
Well said!

In Williams’ work, I found the story of the child who was scared of the big dog to be really interesting. Williams did not like the way that the parents responded objectively, claiming that the big dog was really the same as the little dog. It reminded me of the linguistics lecture where we discussed how we really determine the difference between large and small. Something is only large in reference to something small. The parents seemed to understand this, claiming that dogs are dogs, and their child should not be afraid. However Williams seemed to take this as one of the “idiocies of High Objectivity”.
Yes, that is an interesting story! Glad it spoke to you and related to other material we’ve been looking at.

I was a little bit confused regarding Fanon's view on the dialectic between African Americans and Whites. Was he trying to explain that this dialectic occurs, however we should try to move past it? I guess I just don't really understand what the main point he was trying to make when he referenced Hegel.
He is using Hegel in the sense that white people see themselves through black people and define themselves through them and vice versa. But he is adding a third dimension saying that also black people see other black people through a Hegelian lens, and through white people. I hope this helps. Other people have commented on this, so it would be useful to skim through the comments when they are posted on the website.

How does the relationship between race affect different cultures with in anthropology?
Not quite sure what your question means. If you could clarify between race and what or do you mean between races? Also what do you mean by different cultures within anthropology?

My question for this week is about the idea of being marked vs. unmarked. Williams considers herself to be marked in mainstream U.S. culture because of her race. Do you think that she considers African Americans to be unmarked within African American culture, or do you think that she considers this culture to be influenced by mainstream U.S. culture to the point where African Americans would be marked within their own culture? Or would she even consider these two cultures to be separate?
Yes, she is marked, but she also points out to the ways in which white people sort of “unmark” her sometimes because she is a lawyer, or “acts white.” Similarly she refers to the ways in which black people mark her sometimes as white because she “acts white”. SO depending on the situation she and with regards to who is looking at her, she is simultaneously marked and unmarked. So even within African American culture, one can be marked and unmarked at different instances.