September 21, 2017
On Sept. 14, George Yancy, professor of philosophy at Emory University spoke in Barrows Auditorium about the idea of a “post-racial America.” His lecture, entitled “White Gazes and Black Bodies” was the first event in the philosophy department’s 2017-18 speaker series. Yancy is widely known for his 2015 opinion piece published in the New York Times entitled “Dear White America,” in which he asserted that American whites — whether intentionally or not — engage in racist acts daily as part of an inherently racist society. In the letter, Yancy asks white Americans “to speak to, to admit to, the racist poison that is inside of you.” Yancy covered similar themes in his lecture and sparked a variety of reactions on campus. The Record collected a few responses to the lecture.
I am still wrestling with everything Dr. George Yancy explained and the event itself, which I mean in an incredible way. I left feeling frustrated that I have not been this uncomfortable and frustrated all along. Dr. George Yancy drew a beautiful parallel when he described that we are constantly striving to be anti-racist, but we will never “arrive,” just as we are constantly striving to be Christ-like, but we will never “arrive” there on this earth. To use Dr. Yancy’s words, we should be in crisis and should constantly be practicing double consciousness, which is only attainable through empathy.
It was very eye opening and something I think everyone needs to consider. It really made me think how every white person is racist by association and put a desire in me to want to learn more from my black brothers and sisters.
Dr. Adam Wood:
It’s obviously hard to be told that one is a racist. I’m a white American, so his message was partly aimed at me, and part of the message was, you’re a racist, Wood. It’s always hard to be told that you’re guilty of a sin … but as Christians, we’re told pretty constantly when we go to church and read our Bibles that we are guilty of all manner of different sins, so I think that’s a message that we should be open to.