International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Thoughts and Questions on Justice for American Blacks

For my Theoretical Account of Racism class we had to read Barnon Hesse’s Im/Plausible Deniability: Racism’s Conceptual Double Bind. In this groundbreaking piece, Hesse suggests two typical approaches to the study of racism in the social sciences. Firstly, the approach that racism is an ideology, codified by a set of beliefs, with inherent psychological and thus political effects (for the victims). Secondly, you have the approach to racism in the analysis of colonial conventions and its sociological effects. Now, the former approach is one that is rooted in the analysis of the Holocaust and Nazi regime. However, what is problematic for Hesse is that the ideological account of racism is one that has more recently been used as a paradigmatic account for all accounts of racism, more specifically, the colonial/institutional one seen in America; when the two are wildly unique.

Despite the fact that this tradition ironically reeks of separate (experiences) but equal (approach) rhetoric, I think it is interesting for us to think about this prevailing tradition in the realm of justice. According to Hesse, there has been a tradition of counting the separate experiences of American Blacks and European Jews as ideologically equivalent. Going off this tradition, it is interesting that wide scale implementation of “justice” was attributed to one group and not the other. While America did make substantive legal changes in light of historical human rights violations, actual justice was not as apparent as the Nuremberg trials (obviously due to circumstantial differences). That is not to say that one group’s experiences were more deserving of justice than the other. Rather, if this has been the tradition in the social sciences, and these two distinct experiences have been equated, why then hasn’t justice been apparent in both outcomes? Circumstantial differences are just not enough to answer this question. Moreover, was/is this even possible?


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