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Racing to Justice

Transforming Our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society

john a. powell. Foreword by David R. Roediger

Publication Year: 2012

Renowned social justice advocate john a. powell persuasively argues that we have not achieved a post-racial society and that there is much work to do to redeem the American promise of inclusive democracy. Culled from a decade of writing about social justice and spirituality, these meditations on race, identity, and social policy provide an outline for laying claim to our shared humanity and a way toward healing ourselves and securing our future. Racing to Justice challenges us to replace attitudes and institutions that promote and perpetuate social suffering with those that foster relationships and a way of being that transcends disconnection and separation.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Racing to Justice

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

In the late 1990s, partly because john powell and I were consulting at Macalester College on their curriculum on racial justice, I attended a keynote lecture on that campus by the late literary critic and theorist Edward Said. His health already failing, Said spoke with even more than usual grandeur and in passages...

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pp. xv-xvi

The idea of collecting some of my essays came originally from colleagues in social justice work who asked me to make more of my writing available to those who do not routinely read law journals. Another friend suggested a collection centered around my writings on identity, the self, community, and social justice...

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Introduction Moving beyond the Isolated Self

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pp. xvii

Justice involves claiming a shared, mutual humanity. It is about interrelationships. Until now, every major attempt to achieve racial justice in this country has come up short, and each time, we have seen race and racial hierarchy reinscribed in different ways. Slavery gave way to Jim Crow. The explicit discrimination...


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1 Post-Racialism or Targeted Universalism?

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pp. 3-28

The United States made history on November 4, 2008, by electing Barack Obama as its first African American president, generating a sense of pride and a collective celebration that was shared worldwide. The installation of a black president who was supported by a significant minority of white voters was an occasion...

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2 The Color-Blind Multiracial Dilemma: Racial Categories Reconsidered

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pp. 29-48

What are you? What race are you? For some, the answer takes less than half a second; others may need a paragraph to respond; and some may have their own question: Why do you ask? For despite our obsession with race, which sometimes takes the form of an aversion to discussing it, our national discourse on the subject...

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3 The Racing of American Society: Race Functioning as a Verb before Signifying as a Noun

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pp. 49-72

The color-blind and multiracial issues are but two of the problems we encounter in our efforts to understand race in a consistent and disciplined way. Michael Omi, an important voice in this effort, identifies several others, including the difficulties scientists encounter when attempting to apply ostensibly objective...


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4 Interrogating Privilege, Transforming Whiteness

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pp. 75-101

Seeing and naming the whiteness of whiteness, then decentering whiteness from its position as the universal norm, is an undertaking with enormous potential for liberating our society. The necessary first step is acknowledging that there is indeed white...

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5 White Innocence and the Courts: Jurisprudential Devices That Obscure Privilege

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pp. 102-132

We are differently situated in today’s United States, not only as individuals, but also as communities, with respect to history, ability, culture, and access to opportunity. It is not these differences in our situatedness that create the dramatic inequalities we see today; it is our societal and structural responses, or lack of response...


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6 Dreaming of a Self beyond Whiteness and Isolation

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pp. 134-162

Some years ago, I conducted an exercise in a class on the history and nature of the self. Most of the students in the class were white, and most were law students. After reading some neo-Jungian articles about dreams, and dreams in relation to identity, I asked the class how many of them had ever dreamt that they...

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7 The Multiple Self: Implications for Law and Social Justice

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pp. 163-194

I frequently have difficulty sorting out how to think about a number of issues in my life. The problem is not so much that I do not know what I think and feel. Instead, it is that I think and feel many different and conflicting things.1 Sometimes...


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8 Lessons from Suffering: How Social Justice Informs Spirituality

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pp. 197-228

Much of the literature on the relationship between social justice and spirituality focuses on how spirituality has informed and inspired social justice work. Relatively little attention is paid to how social justice might inform the practice and development...

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pp. 229-246

We started this discussion by questioning the idea that the United States, in electing our first African American president, is now a post-racial society. I have explained why I think we still have some distance ahead of us and have offered...


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pp. 247-272


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pp. 273-289


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pp. 291-301

E-ISBN-13: 9780253007353
E-ISBN-10: 0253007356
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253006295

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2012