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‘I can’t quite put my finger on it’: Racism’s touch

Black History Month Seminar Series, 2014

Date: 15th October 2014

Shirley Anne Tate

Black liberation thought is foundational for Black Critical Race Theory (BCRT) which in turn is crucial for unpicking the operation of white power in organizations. Such unpicking is urgent given Lewis Gordon’s (1995) observation that in organizations racism melts into thin air even as it permeates their very walls.

‘I just can’t quite put my finger on it’ engages with the struggle to identify racism’s invisible touch. In the academy post-race sensibilities present us with slippages where ‘race’ no longer matters, racism does not exist and BCRT is not theory whilst teaching on ‘race’ and racism is mainstreamed. Racism is transmitted through the flinching away from Black touch, whether as theory or body, a movement away which contains contempt/ disgust. This is the ordinariness of racism where BCRT is aligned with the Black body so as to alienate it from Sociology as a discipline and erase its decolonizing impetus.