Edited By William M. Reynolds
Chapter Twenty-Five: Of Time and River: How Place RacializedMy Course in Life
Of Time and River: How Place Racialized My Course in Life
During summer 2012, I taught a curriculum theory doctoral course that fixed on one book, Hans Georg Gadamer’s Truth and Method (1960). The class consisted of about 20 doctoral students, mostly African American women born and raised in various parts of the Deep South state in which I teach. I began my class with these words: “Greetings all, my name is Douglas McKnight. I am from Shreveport, Louisiana, and so I am racist.”
While that statement certainly may have been shocking, it was not meant to titillate, intimidate, or anger, though I certainly received some bewildered and wide-eyed stares. Instead, it was a curriculum experiment, a test of the central problematic of Gadamer’s notion of conversation, which always begins by tearing out a space for those prejudicial assumptions uttered by the speaker to rise up and become accountable. Only then, according to Gadamer’s philosophical footings, can dialogue and a mediated understanding make historically rigid tensions resolvable. In other words, can such deep-seated pressures that emerge from racialized existence be overcome absolutely, partially, or possibly not at all? And if not at all, does that matter or end its worth when it comes to public existence as long as some sort of acknowledgement, understanding, and maybe even some justice can occur? Of course, this all assumes that some equity among participants can be achieved. The rest of...
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