Notes on Shelby's Essay

Submitted By xs7766
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Pages: 7

Notes on Shelby’s Chp. 5 Race, Culture, and Politics While this chapter is in some respects straightforward it is hard to see how this fits into Shelby’s overarching project. Basically, while Shelby things that 1) black culture is important and 2) it should be pursued, he doesn’t think that it should be part of a nationalist public agenda. There are several reasons for this. First, if blacks should pursue a national black public philosophy and black cultural autonomy should be a part of this agenda, then this means that individual blacks are morally obligated to promote black cultural autonomy. This means they would have to uphold at least some of the 8 tenets discussed below. Shelby’s arguments for why people shouldn’t do this take several forms. Here are a few of them: 1. The point of Black cultural autonomy (BCA) is that it leads to black self-determination (BSD). As this is largely the goal of a black public philosophy. If one believes that BSD is important, then one should take steps to guaranteeing it. That is, your obligated to pursue BSD if you think its important/good/etc. So, your obligated in taking steps towards bringing about BSD. But if there are alternative ways to bring it about, then you need not be obligated to pursue BCA. For example, look at tenet 2. 2. Sometimes the arguments for BCA might appear good, but can backfire when applied to other groups (e.g. look at tenet 8 and possibly 7). 3. It’s not that the tenets are bad or aren’t worth pursuing, but the normative force for pursuing them isn’t just limited to blacks. This comes up for tenet 3 and in some other places. However, this is a strange sort of argument and I think it remains an open question as to whether or not they should be part of a black public philosophy just because people other than blacks should adopt them to. Arguably all racial public philosophies should adopt antiracism, antipoverty, and racial equality, so there doesn’t seem to be much of a problem of having multiple groups pursuing the same ends. Ok, so here are my notes on Shelby’s arguments. The section on tenet 7 is a little slim but all the others are quite thorough. Black Public Philosophy should include: Antiracism Antipoverty Racial equality Many would add to this Black cultural autonomy (BCA) BCA leads to BCSD (self-determination)

Thesis: Black Americans should not promote BCN (nationalism) as a component of public philosophy & black politics should not be understood on the model of multiculturalism (i.e. a politics that promotes cultural differences). Questions: Why shouldn’t BCN be promoted? This is anti-DuBoisian in certain respects, so how does Shelby think of BCN in light of positive things he has said elsewhere in the book? 8 tenets of BCN (think family resemblance here not necessary and sufficient). [Leave out long descriptions but put page numbers where they occur. Make sure you can describe each. Focus on counter arguments Shelby gives.] 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Distinctiveness 163-4 Collective Consciousness 164 Conservation 164-5 Rootedness 165 Emancipatory Tool 165-6 Public Recognition 166 Commercial Rights 166 Interpretative Authority 166-67

[The structure of this chapter is such that Shelby will address all of these, so it’s important to make sure you recognize what he says about each.] Acceptance of 1. Will assume there are cultures that can be thought of as black and correspondingly white. So Shelby won’t take up 1 again. Counterarguments 2 Not all persons designated as racially black self-identify as culturally black. 2 would be easy to argue for if this were the case. Permitting cultural identity would then result in blacks pursuing a collective cultural identity insofar as they would be pursuing the same culture. Defendability of 2 will rest on whether it is merely permissible (and maybe praiseworthy) to identify with culture or whether it is an obligation. To agree that one should not be inhibited in the development of a cultural identity is not to