On the importance of listening

Image_Stela Maris Grespan
Whatsapp
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Telegram

By Erico Andrade *

Wittgenstein had already said that there is no such thing as a private language. Nobody owns the language. No one owns the theme of racism. But what we must learn is that we cannot speak for people about their subjective experience of racism and coping with it.

No one is allowed to silence anyone. Nor is this the purpose of the aesthetic criticism of Lilia Schwarcs' text, nor is this what is present in the concept of place of speech. Going down this path distances the debate from two central points of the discussion that are intertwined. The place of intellectual discourse in relation to social movements and the limits of the subjective experience of racism.

An important criticism of Lilia Schwarcs's text is the professorial air that the text exudes. It is present in the imperatives that fill it and in the subtitle, not placed by the author: “you have to understand”. The intellectuality that does not perceive this in the text, such as Wilson Gomes, seems to subscribe, unlike the author herself, that the intellectual has the power to regulate social movements: their dynamics and their agenda. Now, how can one justify Lilia Schwarcs' assertion that black youth will not recognize themselves in Beyoncé's work? It is at this point that the concept of place of speech operates and that it seems that the intelligentsia insists on turning a blind eye. By asserting beforehand what will be the reception of the black public of a work, produced by a black singer, Lilia Schwarcs authorized herself to speak for blackness. That is, she takes the word of black people to speak for them about the reception of a work by a black artist.

That seems to me to be the point. That is, Lilia Schwarcs, like any white person, not only can but must talk about the cultural and intellectual production of blackness because racism, although it is a white creation, can only be undone in a dialectical relationship that involves white and black people. Racism needs to be talked about, talked about by all people, even by those who are not directly linked to the black movement as Maria Rita Kehl claims to be. So, the place of speech is not to silence white people about black issues or only allow them to speak only when they are close to black people, but it is to guide them not to speak for black people about the subjective experience of blackness.

And here I come to the second point: the subjective experience of racism. Fanon is blunt when he narrates the experience through which he became black. The phenomenologically subjective character of this experience is not accessible to white people. This is why white people cannot speak, from a subjective point of view, about the existential experience of racism. This, however, does not mean that they cannot talk about racism as a social structure of oppression, much less that they cannot empathize with the black cause. In fact, they should talk about it and assess to what extent they are not reproducing these structures.

Wittgenstein had already said that there is no such thing as a private language. Nobody owns the language. No one owns the topic of racism. But what we must learn is that we cannot speak by people about their subjective experience of racism and coping with it. And this does not prevent anyone from aesthetically discussing a work produced by black people, but only points out that one should not speak for them about how they will receive the work. What escapes whiteness is this subjective experience of racism. Whiteness cannot speak about it and, to paraphrase Wittgenstein, it is better to listen.

*Erico Andrade is a professor at the Department of Philosophy at the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE).

See this link for all articles

10 MOST READ IN THE LAST 7 DAYS

______________

AUTHORS

TOPICS

NEW PUBLICATIONS