The Karma of Brown Folk
There is much in this book that may appear parochial, but if we are to be truly critical multiculturalists, we must be willing to enter domains without safe translations so that we can understand and engage with the complexities that affect the lives of others. There is, in other words, something refreshingly educational about “parochiality.” Given other circumstances, I would have much rather addressed this book to an unmarked human subject, one who is like the Subject of so much European philosophy, but such a choice is not available as long as “race” continues to be a searing category through which we are so habitually forced to live. As a social fact, race organizes the way we are viewed in society, how we often produce our own cultural communities, and how we struggle against the supremacist parochialism of many of our institutions (that, for all their openness, continue to support unspoken forms of whiteness).
The resilience of race in our lives cannot be easily dismissed in favor of an imputed universalism, since we might want to allow those who fight from standpoints of oppression to come from concrete identities (such as race, but also ethnicity, regions, sexuality, gender, and class) to produce forms of unity that can only be seen in struggle rather than in some abstract theoretical arithmetic. Most notions of identity are not unalloyed, and many celebrate the importance of the politics of identification; we must learn to harness these identifications in the hope of a future rather than denying the right of oppressed peoples to explore their own cultural resources toward the construction of a complex political will.