Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Velleman on Authenticity

What the victim of [racial] shame needs to recover is, not his pride in being African-American or Jewish, but his social power of self-definition, which he can hardly recover by allowing himself to be typed, even by his friends.

Of course, positive stereotypes offer roles that are easier to play with that sense of conviction which feels like authorship. Hence people often fail to experience the shame that they ought to feel in letting themselves be co-opted into positive stereotypes, including such current favorites as The Good Liberal or The Right-Thinking Multiculturalist. But these stereotypes are only a further form of self-compromise, which might be described as putting on whiteface.

-- J. David Velleman, 'The Genesis of Shame' [PDF], pp.46-47.

1 comment:

  1. Those who support identity politics often claim to be representing a more complex, sympathetic and subtle world view. Yet ( classical) identity politics seems to me to have all the subtlety of a hammer. There is far more variation inside than between groups. To sum up, I really like your quote.


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