The Marquette community is invited to a public lecture in the University Honors Program’s spring seminar series. Dr. Grant J. Silva, assistant professor of philosophy, will present “Racism as Self-Love,” on Wednesday, Feb. 7, from 5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. in Marquette Hall 200.
While malice, hatred, and contempt undoubtedly motivate much interpersonal racism, this presentation argues that “self-love” also lies at the root of racial animus in the United States today. On account of the dynamic nature of racism, the default moral innocence accompanying white ways-of-being, and ongoing attempts at moral evasion when it comes to the charge of racism, racism as self-love better accounts for racial strife currently unfolding in cities and states across our nation. Rather than allocate blame for past instances of racism and racial inequality, this essay concerns itself with the perpetuation of racially unjust socioeconomic and political structures.
Extending Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s notion of amour–propre, self-love racism is characterized by the unwillingness to contribute to racial justice on account of the subsequent diminutions in quality of life, relative “safety” or opportunity it would entail. Apparent within police office-related shootings of Black Americans, the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment sweeping first world nations, and the resurgence of unabashed white supremacy in the United States, racism as self-love manifests in tropes of self-preservation and protectionist ideals that strive to obfuscate the charge of racism and maintain a sense of self dependent upon racial inequality.