May 19, 2017
4:00pm to 6:00pm

4357 Bunche Hall 


Overwhelmingly, scholars of contemporary racial injustice argue that the disjunction between our society’s express commitment to racial egalitarianism and the persistence of racial inequality is due to the pernicious racial beliefs, sentiments and dispositions found in the unconscious inner states of individuals.  Yet, with the introduction of the term "institutional racism," activists and scholars emerging from the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements directly challenged the inclination to determine the character of racial injustice by the inner states of individuals, and argued that racism could be more reliably identified where there was actual racial inequality.  The claim that racism was coextensive with racial inequality came under fire in the 1980s and onward when philosophers and sociologists contended that racial inequality alone could not serve as sufficient evidence of racism.  In this article, I argue that advocates of the institutional account of racism were right, racism is coextensive with racial inequality.  I argue further that achieving racial justice requires making racial inequality and the mechanisms that sustain it visible by revealing the meaning our actual racial interactions have, not for each individual, but intersubjectively.  This kind of collective meaning-making work has the benefit of, at best, equipping us with the practical tools to realize a more racially just world and, at the very least, bringing our racial disputes above ground where they can be seen.