Zeus Leonardo

n education, it is common to put the condition of ‘safety’ around public race dialogue. The authors argue that this procedural rule maintains white comfort zones and becomes a symbolic form of violence experienced by people of color. In other words, they ask, ‘Safety for whom?’ A subtle but fundamental violence is enacted in safe discourses on race, which must be challenged through a pedagogy of disruption, itself a form of violence but a humanizing, rather than repressive, version. For this, the authors turn to Frantz Fanon’s theory of violence, most clearly outlined in The Wretched of the Earth. First, the article outlines the basic assumptions of Fanon’s theory of revolutionary, as opposed to repressive, violence. Second, we analyze the surrounding myths that an actual safe space exists for people of color when it concerns public race dialogue. Third, we critique the intellectualization of racism as part of the concrete violence lived by people of color in the academy, which whites continually reduce to an idea. We pedagogically reframe the racial predicament by promoting a ‘risk’ discourse about race, which does not assume safety but contradiction and tension. This does not suggest that people of color are somehow correct by virtue of their social location. In addition, it does not equate with creating a hostile situation but acknowledges that violence is already there. Finally, we consider the practical import of intellectual solidarity, where understanding racism becomes the higher good rather than whether or not one leaves the dialogue looking more or less racist than before.

Read the paper