Summary: A Genealogy Of Modern Racism

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In the essay, “A Genealogy of Modern Racism”, the author Dr. Cornel West discusses racism in depth, while conveying why whites feel this sense of superiority. We learn through his discussion that whites have been forced to treat black harshly due to the knowledge that was given to them about the aesthetics of beauty and civility. This knowledge that was bestowed on the whites in the modern West, taught them that they were superior to all races tat did not emulate the norms of whites. According to Dr. West the very idea that blacks were even human beings is a concept that was a “relatively new discovery of the modern West”, and that equality of beauty, culture, and intellect in blacks remains problematic and controversial in intellectual circles…show more content…
The scientific revolution is important because it brings to light two fundamental ideas “observation and evidence”, this forced man to compare the physical traits of human forms, this brought about the differentiation between blacks and whites. According to West philosophy in collaboration with science helped bring theory to reality. Philosophers Bacon and Descartes believed that philosophy brought a new standard of knowledge and that observation and evidence were at the center of the scientific method (West pg. 52). The classical revival of the Greco ideas of beauty that was used to measure what is considered beauty. In J.J Winckelmann’s “History of Ancient Art”. he lays down the rules in art and aesthetics that govern the structure of the perfect face, “he viewed Greek beauty and culture as the ideal or standard against which to measure other people and cultures”. According to West the beginning of white supremacy is found when classification categories, and representational order imposing aims of natural history (West pg.55). Though biblical accounts for inferiority ran rampant, the objective of the proponents of natural history looks at physical characteristics, and the basis of white supremacy is in classification. These observable characteristics of racial classes pertained to character and disposition (West pg.56) According to Dr. West there are three stages in the emergence of white supremacy. First was the “normative gaze” the concept that basically the Greek concept of beauty is the norm (West pg. 55). This is the emergence of categorizing race denoting skin color to classify human bodies. The second of emergence comes with the rise of the reading of skulls and the reading of faces, these new disciplines opened the way for white supremacy (West pg. 57). To categorize people against what they felt was the norm and what they
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