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Think for a Change (10): What We Don't Know About Ignorance

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Published on Mar 27, 2011

An example of an epistemology of ignorance at work: http://www.filmsforaction.org/news/wh...

There are lots of things that we don't know, but more importantly, there are things that we *inaccurately* know. Charles Mills' term, "epistemology of ignorance," refers to a systematic way of misperceiving and misunderstanding the world in ways that produce and sustain ignorance of social realities, precisely because this failure to really understand serves political, social, economic, or moral purposes for some but not others.

Mills' idea of an epistemology of ignorance is provocative and often controversial, especially for white people who get quite defensive and assume that Mills' is writing in ways that make himself racist against white people. Of course, the idea is much more complex than what can be conveyed in this video, so I hope people consider carefully reading the book's arguments before attacking his ideas and dismissing them. Although an epistemology of ignorance is a much bigger issue to contend with than a simple "lack" of understanding, and although this does mean that nearly everyone is implicated in this systematic misperception of reality (whites and non-whites included), the fact that he decolorizes Whiteness allows for the possibility of race traitors. Before you can actually work against racism, however, you have to first be able to see how it works and has worked throughout history, which includes being willing to consider if, and how, you might be still be racist. As some viewers commented on my last video, racism is not always overt, but found in more institutionalized and subtle places so that it often goes unchecked and unrecognized.

Here's a related blog post that I wrote in July 2011:
http://littlebirdpoettree.blogspot.co...

Check out what I've been writing on my new blog at http://coriwong.com

Find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ThinkingThrou...

And of course, I'm on Twitter, too! Follow @Cori_Wong http://twitter.com/Cori_Wong

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