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"The Alchemy of Race and Rights" and other reading notes

sara.gladwin's picture

p. 3

“Some kind of…” I love that she writes colloquially… it’s the ‘kind of’ speech I feel guilty using in academic writing that feels more real to me

“Stupidity is not madness… an apparent deficit…”

 p. 4

“You should know…” Followed by person/non-academic statements- the acknowledgement that the personal is crucial to understanding her book

Thinking and feeling are intertwined… to polish an academic paper until it is sterile/free from emotion is to silence/make invisible part of your thought process and therefore to withhold a certain nuance and depth (which is at the heart of the self) from the text and to ignore the way that specific identities impact the meaning conveyed/ intended…

 p. 5

“I don’t know how to find something to write about in the panic of this deadly world. There is more in the news than even my depression can consume.”

 p. 7

“In other words, to speak as black, female, and commercial lawyer has rendered me simultaneously universal trendy, and marginal”

Also again pointing to how she is giving value to the purpose of an audience reading and understanding her identity in relationship to the argument she is making, and how that influences where she is coming from/ her understanding of what she is saying/ what her personal stake is in making the argument (And this last bit is the most important piece there too…. Its like why I struggle to read the minow piece because I feel like I’m sitting there, like Patricia’s sister, jiggling my foot impatiently and continually asking, but what does it really mean? In other words, make this real for me by illuminating your personal stake and the personal stake that others have in what you are saying… there’s something so important about recognizing the work she is doing not just on a factual level but on a level of okay these things are so intensely powerful in the lives of others and I want to feel that on some level… also to recognize another’s personal stake is to recognize the value of their life… ) and also there’s something really important about the way she is advocating for personal experience so poignantly because she’s not simply saying hey- listen up, who I am is important, she is distinctly breaking conventional modes of communicating / crafting her writing to show us this, to lead us into that conclusion on our own…. And why this is so genius and wholly effective is that you don’t sit there and read it and think you should be resisting because you are being told an argument and asked to feel passionately about it without understanding those stakes, those personal reasons for being passionate… she makes her reader feel with her and therefore I am completely caught up, I am sold already and I am only on the seventh page.


“My writing is an intentional departure from that…”

 P. 8

“…that forces the reader both to participate in the construction of meaning and to be conscious of that process”


It is so funny because I’m sitting here in the lusty cup so completely absorbed that I didn’t even notice that ever time her writing resonated so powerfully with me I would verbally affirm her, I suddenly just became very self-conscious of how lost I was that I was trespassing on normal codes of conduct that dictate the act of speaking to myself is a very weird thing- it is evidence of being unable to control yourself and your reactions and ultimately monitor and censor how you feel about something.

But she’s also not hiding her goals. She’s just very cleverly taking you along on her process, letting it come as it comes…. ACADEMIC WORK IS OFTEN REMOVED FROM THE PROCESS…. Which is so crucial to understanding the theories and arguments which ultimately make it into a piece of writing. We want so badly to understand, we have writers to do this job for us, give us the nuggets of truth without actually doing the work it takes to get there (something about the age of internet making more accessible to others that process of understanding…) process=experiencing/feeling in relationship to thinking= part of understanding fully is to also feel what you think, to believe what you think, to live as you think

 P. 10

“I felt myself slip in and out of shadow, as I became nonblack for the purposes of inclusion and black for the purposes of exclusion; I felt the boundaries of my very body manipulated, casually inscribed by definitional demarcations that did not refer to me.”

 this feels so incredibly powerful- it’s just… it’s a common example used and talked about right, in subtle micro aggressions/ enlighten racism and so forth… but here she does not require the academic terminology to relay meaning but instead relies on descripting so vividly how it feels to experience this disjointed paradox in which she is both being recognized for her blackness and being completely dismissed as black…

 oh gosh and the very next line is “the paradox of my being black and yet noblack…”

“Samedifferent words” – I love that she does that just squishes words together in a way that perfect reflects how disjointing and difficult it is to conceptualize two very different things as being overlapping and yet not… samedifferent…

 okay I think I’ve just realized something very very important… I need my thesis to be a collection of experiences, both mine and not mine…. I need it to still reflect everything I’ve been trying to say all semester as well still though……. I keep thinking about how I feel some sense of loss at like, I’m having these intense conversations with people, spontaneous, getting lost conversations and how they are so real and that everytime I have them, I literally uncover pieces of the puzzle that relate back to my thesis and I feel like I need to start out with some connective tissue between everyone but really, I need to start with no common grounds between them at all

 and also, it is the spontenaty, the play of it all, that makes it more resonate in the end. It is that feeling of being awestruck that you have discovered something where you expected nothing that is learning,

 I am just so completely overwhelmed with the beauty of it all, marveling at my own capacity to feel and that to live is to be constantly throwing yourself into that process of burrowing deeper and deeper, indulging in yourself as a human who is limitless…. Thinking of couples who actually make it and how I feel like one thing they say is well we are constantly falling more in love with each other every day and it’s almost impossible to imagine… we think that there is this wall that we hit, that it will never ever get better then this, and so we forget to hunger for more

 And I feel like this is what it would be for me to make that place for myself within education, to finally acknowledge the work that I feel like I do everyday as a meaningful educational tool….

And this is really why the 360 has so much more potential to be effective as a learning experience is that it leaves room for people to develop emotional connections through the labor of processing and feeling together… it creates the personal stake in

 P. 13

“…by which children are taught not to see what they see”

 P. 21

“After the civil war, when slaves were unowned- I hesitate to use the word emancipated even yet- they were also disowned: they were thrust out of the market and into a nowhere land that was not quite the mainstream labor market, and very much outside the marketplace of rights. They were placed beyond the bounds of valuation, in much the same way that the homeless are or that nomads and gypsies are, or tribal people who refuse to ascribe ot the notion of private space and who refuse or are refused traditional jobs or stationary employment; they became like all those who cannot express themselves in the language of power and assertion and staked claims- all those who are nevertheless deserving of the dignity of social valuation, yet those who are so often denied survival itself.”