Jun Mian Chen on white privilegePosted: May 3, 2014
I appraise George Sher’s argument against the “searchlight view” to set the stage that ignorance and lack of awareness do not relieve the privileged white social group of taking responsibility for epistemic injustice and racial oppression brought on by white privilege – the kind that is morally not worth having. I argue for resistance from the position of the privileged: white persons have an “initial-move responsibility” to mitigate the effects of white privilege by developing two virtues – considerateness and advocacy – that move beyond Jose Medina’s three epistemic virtues of humility, curiosity/diligence, and open-mindedness, which are aimed exclusively at gaining knowledge rather than an orientation towards action. While advocacy has typically been practiced from the position of the oppressed, I argue it needs to be taken up from the position of the privileged as well. For privileged white persons to properly advocate with oppressed non-white persons, they are required to engage in practices of what Allison Weir calls “transformative identification”, in order to avoid pitfalls of advocating for or as oppressed non-whites.
Rebekah comments to Jun Mian: I like the way you seek to break down [Medina’s link between marginalization and the possibilities for who can count as an epistemic heroi], allowing that, for instance, Peggy McIntosh, who is white, can nonetheless qualify as an epistemic hero. But can you comment on what distinguishes the epistemic hero from simply a virtuous person? If one practices advocacy, is one thereby a hero/heroine, or simply virtuous?
James Wong talked about advocacy and speaking with others, taking the perspective of some other group; Rusin asked about what links the ignorant to responsibility for their ignorance?