I finished writing this essay on the alchemy of race and rights compared to the works of Durkheim, Weber and Marx. Can you please correct anything for me that you feel is wrong?
The Alchemy of Race and Rights
Patricia Williams's text, The Alchemy of Race and Rights, discusses and analyzes "critical race theory" in retrospect to "self-hood" and victimization in people of color, class and gender. The authors ability to link numerous issues together is all owed to her "word-bondage" that she uses to show not only different perspectives of the same issues, but also to construct and be able to mold out issues that convey the same meanings in fields of social and legal analysis. As the work of Patricia Williams's proceeds, it allows the readers to assume that Patricia Williams's insights on Civil Rights and Human rights discourse still remain a black whole with too many answers left to answer. The sociological concepts that are involved in The Alchemy of Race and Rights can be critiqued and compared to the works of Durkheim, Weber, and Marx.
So what is the "critical race theory" and how does it intertwine with "self-hood" and victimization in people of color, class and gender? As it is portrayed in The Alchemy of Race, "critical race theory" is a theory that focuses on a nature of race within relations to power, in other words power that arises from money. Power is a very important concept in this theory because it is what pushes change to occur in legal and social fields. However, "critical race theory" is not only a theory that looks upon race, but also intertwines class, race and sex all within one category. As Patricia Williams examines this theory, she questions economic and civil liberties within the U.S. government because they are stating that "equal protection guarantees equality of opportunity "blindly" for the benefit of those market actors who have exercised rational choices in wealth-maximizing ways; and that those who make irrational choices in wealth-maximizing choices have chosen, and therefore deserve to be poor" (Williams, 28). Therefore, Patricia Williams raises questions, if black people are making irrational choices by being born black with historical roots tied up to slavery, and were there ever any equality of opportunity that were the same for blacks, as there are for white people? As she re-calls it, her great-grandmother was a young black girl that was bought by a white male. She became pregnant at the age of thirteen. Later on, the children that she had were taken away by her white master. Most of the time the great-grandmother spent was in isolation and raped by her white master. As her children grew up, they did not know their mother, but instead were thankful to their father or master for their survival (Williams, 18).
Patricia Williams ties the story to her grandmother to the present day and the exploitation that persists to happen to people of color. She examines the issue of black female babysitters/maid that only receives $150 for a full time job, while a Hispanic woman earns $200 for performing the same job. The catch is, one is black and the other one is white (Williams, 20). Too that, Patricia Williams, compares homeless people with the same ongoing exploitation. In other words, she compares them to slaves or even black people as a whole, because they are "those who cannot express themselves in the language of power and assertion and staked claims- all those who are never less deserving of the dignity of social valuation, yet those who are so often denied survival itself" (Williams, 21). She explains that no matter how hard these people try, just as herself, they are denied the opportunity to be themselves. Therefore, in result they are the ones that stand in "self-hood" or in other words they are the separated bunch that is viewed as outcasts in the past, present, and future generations.
False stereotypes of people of color, gender and sex are all tied with description or representation that is used in commerce as well as civil action cases. Patricia Williams gives an example of "Coke". When "Coke" is advertised it is portrayed as being a drink that is only drank by "perky, sexy self (but in) reality (its) a can of corn syrup" (Williams, 40). Just as the stereotypes of "Coke" are misleading, so are stereotypes of race, gender, and sex. "The greater harm is that it is hypnotic and culturally addictive" (Williams, 41). An example of "Coke" is a "floating signifier" just as race and sex. These aspects of commerce and aspects of life contain vague associations with ones characteristics that can be also be tied to "word-bondage" or an interpretation of these issues in different attributes of their meanings.
To explain more clearly what is "word-bondage and how it is used in everyday social and legal life, Patricia Williams re-calls a story about Peter Gabel and her. Before she tells the story, she notes that they are both professors and rather colleagues in their work. They perform work that is alike however, he is a white male and she is a black female. They both moved to New York City and were planning to rent an apartment. "He said he didn't need to sign a lease because it imposed too much formality. The handshake and the good vibe were for him indicators of trust more binding than a form of contract" (Williams, 146). At the beginning, the author called Peter crazy, that he would never get his apartment, because there was never a contract. However, Williams was wrong, he was given "keys in hand, to welcome him in" (Williams, 146). But as she states due to her past experience, "Manhattan lessors would not have trusted a black person enough to let me in the door in the first place, (without) paperwork, references and credit check" (Williams, 147).
Therefore, a contract for the author was a sense of power and trustworthiness, but the same contract for Peter, ended in just a simple handshake. As a result, a word such as "contract" can be discussed and identified and preformed with different actions and especially with different interpretations in the legal and social fields. The "word-bondage" of "contract" can be inferred in several ways just as race, sex, and class, therefore, there is no such thing as a concrete interpretation of these things. As a result of this example and an example of "Coke," identification of race, color, and sex are not sufficiently concrete definitions to decide what should become law, and how it would profit these groups of people, because there are no associations with facts, stereotypes and racial identification are all opinions.
As for Civil rights and Human rights discourse, Patricia Williams states that they are set up by "perspective of traditionally conceived constitutional standards" (Williams, 106) and for that reason, they are interpreted by "private law" (Williams, 106). As Patricia Williams stated earlier in her text "private law" is made by white males that do not equalize humanity, but instead provide inequality by taking away "public rights" such as welfare from low income people. Too that "Civil rights act, to say nothing of affirmative action" (Williams, 106), and until the Civil rights discourse notes anything about the affirmative action, than there would be no equalization with white population for the African American community or of people of any color, sex and class that are different from what is considered to be the norms. Patricia Williams notes that their needs to be a point when laws would become color-blind and not an "antidote for race bias in real life," (Williams, 48) and if that happens than the Civil rights and Human rights are going to become the real rights to life, liberty, and freedom of thought and expression.
Emile Durkheim was a sociologist that tired to prove "that the society is fundamentally a moral system" (Sutton, 32). He tried to prove his argument through analysis of three periods, such as pre-industrial, industrial, and modern by tying them up in respects to "social solidarity," collective conscience," and law. One of areas of concentration was based on the fact that he believed that industrialization does not destroy people or society, it only profits it by creating a division of labor that "separates society into diverse groups with different moral perspectives" (Sutton, 33). Patricia Williams would disagree with Durkheim, because having a division of labor separates people within specific groups. It might create individualism and interdependence, but in a negative way. Usually individualism and interdependence is tied up with power that creates inequality. In this attribute, Patricia Williams would question, Durkheim's reasoning on who is qualified for what job and how and where would he put boundaries in the work ethics of people? How would Duerkheim know who is more qualified for what? Did the people who are rated higher receive individualized attention in seminars and were taught how to perform each task with a tutor to perfection (Williams, 99)? Therefore, there is no such thing as an equal separation of groups within different moral perspectives in the labor market.
One of the components of Duerkheim's theory that Patricia Williams would agree with would be "restitutive law". This type of law is made to control complex society or modern societies. It "does not seek to punish but, rather, to restore a broken social relationship" (Sutton, 38). Basically it restores the balance of the relationship with oneself to the normal state before a law was violated. Patricia Williams would agree with "restitutive law," because the major point of Alchemy of Race and Rights is for people to get rid of opinions about specific kinds of people, but mostly people of color and define law by color-blind, liberal ideals, not within a stereotypical concrete platform. If these actions would be performed than a balance can be restored according to her.
Patricia Williams would agree with Karl Marx about the concept of legal change. The concept that she would agree would be that "Law does not deal with whole people but with idealized "subjects" who have property rights but lack substantive rights" (Sutton, 93). She would agree with this concept because "property might have a gender and that gender might be a matter of words" (Williams, 13). When Patricia is stating that, she means that most of the property is found in the hands of males. The males are the "subjects," in Karl Marxist concept of legal change. However, it is not mentioned nowhere in the law who are these men and how one got their property? Or does it simply say that the law is the white males and the "subjects" are black males with lack of "substantive rights"? To that Patricia Williams would agree.
The concept in Marxian theory that Patricia Williams would disagree would consist in "Historical Materialism". Part of historical materialism analysis is that "social change can be understood only by an examination of concrete human activity in particular social contexts" (Sutton, 93). The Alchemy of Race and Rights is a diary of Patricia Williams that focuses on a platform, which is slavery. Slavery is the foundation of this book, because it is perceived that the roots of inequality are all impacts of the past. If one would examine concrete human activity and especially in a field of social context, it would pretty much all be stereotypical evidence coming from commerce.
Unlike Marxian of historical materialism, Weber's theory of methodological orientation states that natural and social sciences are two different things and that one should "take into account how actors in different societies and different historical periods see and understand the world" (Sutton, 129) than only one could interpret the law. With this concept Patricia Williams would definitely agree with. However, the way Weber analyses his outlooks on Social order, Patricia Williams would disagree. She would disagree with Weber's idea of that "all societies must have some form of domination; authority is legitimate domination" (Sutton, 129). She would disagree with it because this is what the founding fathers believed in and their beliefs created inequality that follows us all the way to know and will separate the dominating class and minorities in the future, and Patricia Williams is trying to impose that point in her diary, Alchemy of Race and Rights.
Alchemy of Race and Rights is a diary of Patricia Williams that discusses and analyses "critical race theory" in retrospect to "self-hood" and victimization in people of color, class and gender, and explains how it all connects to the "word-bondage" that illustrates floating-signifiers in race and sex.