george-yancy

Perhaps it is time that philosophers revisit the responsibility that philosophy has toward others and the larger facets of society, moving out of their reflective isolationism and pressing philosophical thought in the service toward a better world, a better sense of community that affirms difference, plurality, and variegated standpoints. Indeed, perhaps philosophy has a responsibility toward creating aesthetically rich selves (…). Wittgenstein, or so it would seem, has an “art of living” conception of philosophy in mind wherein he grapples with his own work:
“My lectures are going well, they will never go better. But what effect do they leave behind? Am I helping anyone? Certainly no more than if I were a great actor playing out tragic roles for them. What they learn is not worth learning; and the personal impression I make does not serve them with anything.”
(…) What is philosophy if it only provides students with more theory and more clever ways of appearing smart ? What is philosophy if it is only discussed in scholarly journals read by only a few other philosopher-specialists? What is the love of wisdom if it does not help us lead happier, more productive lives? (…) What is critical philosophical thought divorced from leading an exemplary life? What is philosophy if it is unable to face its own hypocrisy and irrelevance ?
—  The Philosophical I, Introduction: Philosophy and the situated narrative self, George Yancy
bell hooks: Buddhism, the Beats and Loving Blackness

“George Yancy: How are your Buddhist practices and your feminist practices mutually reinforcing?

bell hooks: Well, I would have to say my Buddhist Christian practice challenges me, as does feminism. Buddhism continues to inspire me because there is such an emphasis on practice. What are you doing? Right livelihood, right action. We are back to that self-interrogation that is so crucial. It’s funny that you would link Buddhism and feminism, because I think one of the things that I’m grappling with at this stage of my life is how much of the core grounding in ethical-spiritual values has been the solid ground on which I stood. That ground is from both Buddhism and Christianity, and then feminism that helped me as a young woman to find and appreciate that ground. The spirituality piece came up for me in my love of Beat poetry. I came to Buddhism through the Beats, through Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouac — they all sort of gave me this other space of groundedness.

I talk about spirituality more now than ever before, because I see my students suffering more than ever before, especially women students who feel like so much is expected of them. They’ve got to be the equals of men, but then they’ve got to be submissive if they are heteronormative, they have to find a partner. It’s just so much demand that has led them to depression, to addiction, or suicide. And it’s amazing how spirituality grounds them.

Feminism does not ground me. It is the discipline that comes from spiritual practice that is the foundation of my life. If we talk about what a disciplined writer I have been and hope to continue to be, that discipline starts with a spiritual practice. It’s just every day, every day, every day.”

Denying the reality and significance of race is not a problem for just my students. The problem is also prevalent in the profession that I have chosen. Given the often myopic view about what constitutes philosophy and what constitutes “genuine” philosophical problems, especially as dictated by philosophical gatekeepers who think that race is not a topic worthy of philosophical discussion, I often find myself fighting on two fronts. Pedagogically, I find myself confronted by hostility and defensiveness on the part of my white students, especially as they deny that race continues to matter. Professionally, I find that I am up against a certain abstract and purist conception of philosophy that relegates anything that has to do with the inchoate and messy domain of embodied social reality (like race) to sociology or anthropology. This is one way that philosophical borders are policed; indeed, this is one way of restricting what constitutes philosophical intelligibility.
—  From a post on the Temple University Press blog by George Yancy on trying to explain white privilege to his philosophy students. 
A white philosopher once told me...

A white philosopher once told me during a conversation about my various projects on philosophical discourse and whiteness, “Well, I’ve always thought of myself as kind of pink.” … Of course, in African American vernacular, to be pink is a trope for whiteness. So, from my perspective, the white philosopher denied his whiteness only to reclaim his whiteness as pink.


George Yancy, Black Bodies, White Gazes, 2008, 41

It is one thing to remain in the company of whites and proclaim oneself an antiracist. It is another to throw oneself in the social fray where people of color move and have their being. It is within such lived social spaces of transacting with Black bodies, for example,
that one’s commitment to antiracist praxis is tested. It is so easy to hide behind antiracist rhetoric when one limits oneself to predictable social encounters that are already predicated upon social transactions that do not challenge or complicate the white self. However, in social transactions that do challenge the white self, conditions obtain that are ripe for ambush.
—  George Yancy, “Whiteness as Ambush and the Transformative Power of Vigilance”
vimeo

I think I just found my entry point into the field of philosophy through, George Yancy.