Teaching Beyond Western Dichotomies and Pathologies
Those of us brought up in the settler colonies (USA, Australia etc) in the UK/Europe and wherever the curriculum is dominated by Western colonial thought, widening our intellectual horizons by exploration of Black philosophers is critical to overcoming the normalisaton of White supremacy and its genocidal, ecocidal 'side effects'.
I strongly believe that it matters even more, 'on a basic level', (as Ronan Mclaverty-Head puts it in his admirable article) that the existence and thinking of these philosophers of the world beyond Western sensibilities, are included. Eurocentrism and the erasure of people of every other culture must stop being normalised and the younger the children for whom this process begins, the better.
I attended university to study philosophy and social anthropology in the U.K and was not introduced to a single scholar of colour. In protest, I wrote my dissertation from the perspective of Sojourner Truth, interrogating the white male philosopers and leading thinkers of Western schools of thought, such as Freud and Marx.
All of these white males, benefitted from both the subjugation of women following the erasure of independent Western women, labelled 'witches', (see Dr Mary Daly's book, Gyn/Ecology) the takeover of their properties (typically those labelled witches were single or widowed women) being used to fuel the ‘explorations’ and expansionist greed of the princes and priests at the forefront of forging White supremacist thinking from the 1700s onwards. It was their sociopathic de-humanising of people of colour all across the globe, as ‘heathens’, lacking a soul and being closer to animal nature, that was used to justify the merciless, atrocious levels of exploitation and looting.
Few of the white male 'leading thinkers', in philosophy or other subject domains, questioned the source of the privileges that enabled them to sit comfortably in their study rooms, forging ideas that had little to do with the realities that the majority of human beings were contending with.
With the epistemological frameworks that had successfully woven human sensibility with a reverence for the Natural systems we depend upon, almost entirely negated by the European compulsion to accumulate and exploit, we are now at the brink of an ecocide well nigh unimaginable in its horror. Pandemics, water and food shortages, tumultuous weather patterns causing fires and floods, horrific cancers from the radiation unleased by Western powers’ exploding of hundreds of nuclear devices in faraway places that for them, did not count, cascades of chemicals in breast milk and increasing levels of male infertility, are all signs of the hideous, psychopathic levels of irresponsibility of Western thought and its sciences, producing poisonous 'goods' such as plastics and thousands of other toxins that remain in complex interactions inside and outside of human bodies and none of this, even now, is factored into the profit and loss model that has dominated Western consciousness for several centuries.
If we, as teachers and scholars are not to continue this colossal betrayal of past, present and future generations, we have to start at the 'basic level', in every field of exclusionary exposition.