This past weekend, I attended the Spindel Conference and listen to a thesis paper written by Kathryn T. Gines. Gines paper attempts to analyze the work of Hannah Arendt. She feels that Arendt’s theories in papers are often overlooked and oversimplified, proposing the question of whether Arendt has racist undertones in her work. In Gines’ paper, she did not go into much detail about Arendt. What I came to realize was that she is a Jewish woman that resided in Germany for the beginning of her life. As she became more influential as a philosopher, she had to flee Germany and continued a life where freedom of action and speech were not always an option. To the common perspective, Arendt’s battle of religious suppression makes her more creditable when it comes to discussing issues of anti-black racism. Here, Gines tends to disagree.
The beginning of Gine’s thesis paper began with the topic of Black College Students and Higher Education. Here she quotes Arendt saying that the majority of negro students were admitted to lower standards in universities and were not qualified to attend the school. In Arendt’s analysis of education, she did not include anything addressing why qualified black students were not accepted into predominately white colleges. Gine’s attributes the acceptance of negroes into these prestigious schools due to what she calls “ white guilt,” which are thought to be actions out of pity. She then began to discuss ideologies, relevant to our class discussions a few weeks ago. She defines her Black Racist Ideology stating that blacks have to develop an ideology to justify their needs and demands. To counter that, Gine’s states that whites grow up having an anti-black ideology, which would explain why blacks don’t get into white school programs. Throughout this part of the paper, I felt that the claims made by Gine’s were extremely bias. Her interpretation of Arendt’s theories seemed to take small parts and analyze them, instead of taking a full look at the work in context.
Following this topic, Gine’s address Arendt’s Reflections of Little Rock Essay. Gine’s feels that the essay is a cultural misunderstanding and is similar to Arendt’s thoughts in other work. Arendt separates political issues from social issues. In her essay, she says that resorts and places of amusement should remain segregated, seeming this is not a political issue. She feels that there cannot be a “right” to go into a private owned place. Arendt says that public services such as buses etc. are public domain and should not be segregated. Arendt follows by saying equality in politics and public domain must be enforced, other wise there should be discrimination because it keeps groups and communities combined. To Gine’s, there is no difference between political and social issues. They are all interconnected. To make the distinction from political and social issues of segregation and integration, is a racist statement.
After the seminar was over, questions were running through my mind. Gine’s had brought up the Brown vs. Board court case that happened over 50 years ago. She inferred that if this is still such an issue today, has anything changed since then? Also, is segregation just happening in the south or is it a universal problem? My conclusion is that one form of suppression cannot be compared to other. Although, Arendt states some questionable topics and claims, these cannot solely define her as a racist.