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Towards Day 10 (Thurs, 10/2): Making it Manifest

Anne Dalke's picture

I. coursekeeping:
Hayley will do some mid-semester feedback-gathering:
by e-mail and in person (lunch, dinner?);
you should be hearing from her soon;
Sara will also talk w/ you in class next week,
about some of the concerns
you shared with me/I shared with her....

for Tuesday, read Patricia Williams, The Emperor's New Clothes. Seeing a Colorblind Future: The Paradox of Race. 1998.
Riki Wilchins. "Race Critical Thought and Postmodernism's 'Second Wave.'" Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer. 2004.
Keguro Macharia. On Quitting. The New Inquiry. May 3, 2013.
Sabrina Alli, Carceral Educations. The New Inquiry. September 22, 2014.

Tuesday @ 4:30 in Carpenter 21: Created Equal Event: Ruth Wilson Gilmore 
speaking about the film, Slavery by Another Name, about mass incarceration

I had promised to tell you about the talk Robin Bernstein gave on Tuesday,
on "Resistance: Not Psychological Damage: Re-Evaluating the Clark Doll Tests"--
did you hear about this? it seems relevant to the "multiple readings" of
the Confederate flag, which we've been discussing here and elsewhere:

Robin challenged a study, designed by two black psychologists in 1939,
(and the basis of educational policy for 68 years) that read black children's
preference for white dolls as an index to pathology/low self-esteem--

she did this by reviewing the history of a century of play w/ black dolls,
in scenarios that involved lots of violence and rough handling--and then argued that,
in rejecting the black dolls, the black children were rejecting those practices of play
(and presumptions about blacks not feeling pain, which those practices figured);
they weren't rejecting an identification w/ black dolls,
but rather the common practice of violent play w/ black dolls

I was very interested in this project, in part because it intersected with the
discussions we're having now in my ESem about childhood play, and its relationship to adult roles...
but I found myself very resistent to Robin's claims--there are so many variables here,
which a good social scientist, attending to more meticulous data collection,
would have to acknowledge (
one colleague asked, for instance, about "defamiliarization"--
a much higher percentage of the commercial dolls were white ones, so black children, like herself,
found the black dolls strange, freak-ish--because infrequent)
in the terms we used to talk about your papers--
making a non-obvious claim: she did it! she had a very compelling idea!
but! backing it up with good data? I don't think she did...and that troubled me....

II. on Tuesday, I'd asked you to read about Bryn Mawr's history,
and we had a silent discussion about the questions this raised for you--
I scanned our conversation, and you'll now
find it in the protected reading file on Serendip
(it's a good resource for us to go back to...)
At the end of class, we had just begin to speak out loud
about the sense we were making of this material,
asking what we mean when we say "diversity":
Do we really want a diversity of thought and opinion in this community?
If we say no [which those of us who spoke said], what is that saying about us?

Lenny Davis, one of the important figures in disability studies, whom Kristin and I heard speak @ SDS in June,
(and whom I think is on Kristin's syllabus....?) just published a book called
The End of Normal: Identity in a Biocultural Era. He says, straight up, that
"the concept of an intellectual idea...does not have much to offer....
What is suppressed from the imaginary of diversity...
are various forms of inequality,
notably economic inequality, as well as the question of power...
difference must be suppressed to maintain diversity (which ultimately seeks sameness)."

III. This is a very good bridge to Minnie Bruce Pratt's memoir, which (as you now know)
charts her exile from a place of security and privilege--an exile because of sexual difference,
which was the beginning of her activism around issues of race, class and gender.

In a 1986 essay called “Feminist Politics: What’s Home Got to Do with It?” Biddy Martin and
Chandra Talpade Mohanty reflect on Pratt's memoir to argue that "There is an irreconcilable
tension between the search for a secure place from which to speak, within which to act,
and the awareness of the price at which secure places are bought, the awareness of the exclusions,
the denials, the blindnesses on which they are predicated....The tension between the desire for home,
for synchrony, for sameness, and the realization of the repressions and violence that make home,
harmony, sameness imaginable..."

They ask, "what distinguishes [our justification of the homogeneity of the women's community]

from the justifications advanced by...the Klan for 'family, community, and protection'?"

for today, I asked you to
read Pratt's memoir, and also to
explore Alex Juhasz's Feminist Online Media Mantrafesto--
I was hoping, taken together, that they will get us working on
how to bring together folks who see the world differently,
How to build inclusive community (@ Bryn Mawr, for starters)?
What are its edges? Where is it bounded?
How to get beyond (do you want/think we should try) to "get beyond"?

Take a minute to look through your notes, find a line from Pratt's text that you want to read--
something that has heat or energy for you--a passage you'd like us to discuss further
(don't worry if there are repeats, and don't explain or comment--just pause, then read):

listen to Pratt's voice, as we go around...
how do you hear this/take it up?

what is Pratt's argument?

IV. Alex Juhasz’s counter-impulse (not to question, but) to "manifest."
Unlike questions, which (presumably) "keep things open,"
the Italian word manifesto is derived from the
Latin manifestum, meaning clear or conspicuous (= "making manifest").

In her "mantrafesto," Alex melds "manifesto" with "mantra":
a chanted/sung incantation/prayer;
a repeated word, formula, phrase, often a truism ("less is more").
Here's what she wrote:

Access begs literacy.
Literacy initiates production.
Mass production fosters popularity.
Popularity produces virality.
Virality forecloses context, shared interests and vocabulary, and local community.
Community is built upon safety.
Safety fosters the sharing of voice and responsibility.
Shared responsibility is necessary for democracy.
Democracy protects vulnerability.
Vulnerability forecloses visibility.
Visibility demands a safe space.
Safe spaces need rules and hierarchies.
Rules and hierarchies require transparency and process.
Process is built upon equal voices.
All voices want a body.
A body needs to be visible.
Visibility allows for warranting.
Warranting insures civility and positionality.
Positionality fosters political community.
Political communities demand spaces, both virtual and real.
Spaces demand access.

IV. count off into groups of 3 (we need a computer operator in each group)
and begin a mantrafesto with one line from Minnie Bruce Pratt-->
where does it take you?
please post these tonight...

By 5 p.m. Mon, 10/6: also post your own individual "mantrafesto":
a vision of collaborative work
how to bring together folks who see the world differently?
How to build inclusive community (@ Bryn Mawr, for starters)?
What are its edges? Where is it bounded? How to get beyond?
(Do you want/think we should try to "get beyond"? To resist inclusion?)
We'll start class on Tuesday by reading these aloud....

12: I just want to feel at wish is that of an adult wanting to stay a child: to be known by others, but to know nothing, to feel no responsibility.
13: I reckon the rigid boundaries set around my experience, how I have been "protected."
I'm trying to learn act so as to change the unjust circumstances that keep us from being able to speak to each other.
14: If you and I met today, reader, on Maryland Avenue, would we speak? [remember the privileged white women whom Jordan encountered?]
I was taught to be a judge...a martyr, to take all the be a peacemaker...a preacher.
16: we each have only a piece of the truth. So here it is: I'm putting it down for you to see if our fragments match anywhere...
17: each of us crried around htose growing-up places, the institutions, a sort of back-drop, a stage-set.
I learn a way of looking at the world that is more accurate, complex, multi-layered, multi-dimensioned, more truthful...
I feel the need to look differently because i've learned that what is presented to frequently a lie....
18: To acknowledge the complexity of another's existence is not to deny my own
To be caught within the narrow circle of the self is...a lonely thing.
19: How do we want to be different from what we have been?
24: The place that I missed...was a place of mutuality, companionship, creativity, sensuousness, easiness in the body,, and love.
26: how much my memory and my experience of a safe space...was based o places secured by omission, exclusion or violence, and on my submitting to the limits of that place.
27: the extent of my surprise revealed to me the degree of my protection.
30: I didn't understand what a limited, narrow space, and how short lasting, it would be, if only my imagination and knowledge and abilities were to go into the making and extending of it.
33: "our right to be different is..the most precious right we human beings have"
34: "I don't know what he did when he left home"....Do I have any notion, any, of what white men have been doing outside home...?
38: I am entrapped as a woman, not just by the sexual fear of the men of my group, but also by their racial and religious terrors....
39: What is it, exactly, that we are afraid to lose?
41: I needed to do my own work....
42: ...there are things that I do not know....
44: much of what I had learned had been based on false pride.
49: we can question what pressures we may put on women in our comunities to be like we can feel comfortable, "at home."