Georgy Yancy, Emory University
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel argues that the prophetic voice is a scream in the night. I take this to imply that the prophetic voice forces us to listen, to hear, to open ourselves up to courageous speech, and to speak courageously. How ought that scream sound today, especially given our current historical moment, a moment that is far from a "post-racial" America? I will argue that white racism is anti-theological and that it is important that white people engage their whiteness as both a site of privilege and power in order to confront contemporary forms of racism. I will show how whiteness is relational, and thereby how it oppresses and denigrates Black bodies, stressing Heschel's powerful point that all are responsible. This raises the issue of white responsibility when it comes to racism. I will also engage Heschel's work by arguing that racism is, as he might say, "a cancer of the soul." My objective is to speak to the importance of Heschel's prophetic voice regarding race, and demonstrate its implications for our contemporary moment.
George Yancy is professor of philosophy at Emory University. He received his Ph.D. (with distinction) in philosophy from Duquesne University where he was the first McAnulty Fellow. He received his first M.A. in philosophy from Yale University and his second M.A. in Africana Studies from NYU, where he received the prestigious McCracken Fellowship. He received his BA (cum laude) in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. His work focuses primarily in the areas of critical philosophy of race, critical whiteness studies, and philosophy of the black experience. He has authored many academic articles and book chapters. He has authored, edited, or co-edited over 18 books, which include Exploring Race in Predominantly White Classrooms: Scholars of Color Reflect; Pursuing Trayvon Martin: Historical Contexts and Contemporary Manifestations of Racial Dynamics; Look, A White! Philosophical Essays on Whiteness; and, Critical Perspectives on bell hooks. The first edition of Black Bodies, White Gazes received an honorable mention from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights and three of his edited books have received CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book Awards. Yancy’s work has been cited nationally and internationally in places like Turkey, South Africa, Sweden, and Australia. He is editor of the Philosophy of Race Book Series at Lexington Books, and is known for his influential interviews and controversial articles on the subject of race at The Stone (The New York Times). In 2016, he co-edited a new book entitled, Our Black Sons Matter, and the second edition of Black Bodies, White Gazes was recently released. This year, his book, On Race: 34 Conversations in a Time of Crisis, will be published by Oxford University Press, and his authored book,Dear White America will be published by Rowman & Littlefield.
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