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Chapter 12 After Racism Tammy Williams Editor's Introduction Tammy Williams is a good example of a writer who employs Alasdair Maclntyre's conceptual hardware without feeling constrained by any normative ethical the­ ory imagined by some to be lurking beneath the surface of After Virtue. This freedom allows Williams to express her views imaginatively, if not in outright ten­ sion with Macintyre at some points. For example, Williams argues that Christians are obligated to oppose racism for reasons that are particular to the Christian nar­ rative, yet the character of this opposition is not a stance taken against the liberal political community, for racism must be opposed from within liberalism. Likewise Williams gets good mileage out of Maclntyre's notion of virtue, but distances herself from the intimate tie Macintyre sees between virtues and practices. Thus, she admits that distinctively Christian virtues (like forgiveness) are habituated by active participation i n the resistance of racism, but she is reticent to describe an anti-racist venture as a Maclntyrean practice. In fact, the primary use Williams makes of practice is in illustrating the fact that racism (and resistance to it) has a socially rooted character analogous to, but not identical with, practices. Williams concedes that her reluctance to think explicitly in terms of practices stems from her Christian conviction that racism is evil and her Christian hope that racism is eliminable. Williams asks, if racism is an "evil practice," for which tradition could it be thought of as constitutive? Further, if racism is eliminable, then how can the resistance to racism be conceived as a perpetually constitutive component for some other tradition? Despite the limits of Maclntyre's notion of practices for Williams's account, she finds rich resources in his conception of virtue, historicism, and narrative. Williams notes that, from the Christian perspective, the trouble with racism is not determining whether and why racism is morally reprehensible - that is easy. Rather, the trouble is to account for the ways in which racists are vulnerable to profound self-deception. I n addition to racism's "incognito" character, post­ modern thinking has raised current awareness of the fact that racism does not admit to a general definition. Rather, there are multiple racisms. For these two reasons, virtue is a useful concept. The term not only names the sort of Teflon coating and stalwart integrity people need in an age permeated with prejudice; 262 After Racism 263 virtue also serves as a synonym for the moral skills necessary for recognizing racism in all its multifarious, and nefarious, disguises. Second, Williams finds Maclntyre's historicism crucial for her analysis. Wil­ liams holds that Christians must come to terms with the perennial presence of racism in their own churchly history. Disregard for these (countless) negative ex­ amples trades on the prior assumption of an ahistorical stance. But to take such a stance simultaneously distances from Christians the opportunity to identify as their own both the positive anti-racist examples and the prophetic voices in their history. Only by owning up to their entire history can Christians hope to have a mess worth sorting through in order to locate those positive examples that are normative for maintaining authentic Christian identity. Having made this second point, Williams employs the narrative of Christian activist John Perkins to stimulate our imagination in a third way that resonates with Maclntyre's conceptual scheme. Macintyre clearly argues that no one can ask, "What am I to do?" without first considering, "Of which stories am I a part?" Williams finds this valuable in two ways. On the one hand, the "good" of the Christian tradition is the formation of a particular kind of community, one that can inculcate those virtues necessary to the task of living out an authentically Christian resistance to racism. But on the other hand, Williams contends that the narrative web in which Perkins found himself embedded lay at the interface between two communities. Therefore, concludes Williams, Maclntyre's admo­ nition to attend to one's communal narratives for learning truthful ways to live necessitates that the distinctively Christian response to racism be to construct an alternative within liberalism, rather than an alternative to liberalism. BRAD J. KALLENBERG Introduction In this essay I seek to answer the following question: What kind of moral rea­ soning must the church employ in order to understand the nature of racism, to combat it, and, more important, to end it? I argue that the form of reasoning will be community-based in...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780268087067
Related ISBN
9780268043605
MARC Record
OCLC
966823021
Pages
288
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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