Wholism as a Companion to Pedagogies of Distinction: Exit Strategy for the Race Paradigm
This paper hypothesizes the possibility that the pervasiveness of inter-group conflict is related to a prevalent ideology of learning through distinction. The color red is red, for example, because it is not blue. The paper theorizes the application of theories of wholism as companions to existing pedagogies that teach understanding the nature of things through the acceptance of difference and separation. It uses the goal of eradicating racism (and other forms of oppression) as a context for juxtaposing wholism with pedagogies of distinction. It analogizes racial trauma to the cycle of violence present in domestic violence contexts. It argues that abandoning ancestry (and other methods of identification which may be viewed from a wholistic perspective) for race, as a system of identification, is an example of a pedagogy of distinction that fosters methods of thinking and understanding that perpetuate cycles of oppression. Is asking what wholistic identity looks like similar to asking what a whole alphabet (as opposed to separate signifying symbols) and a whole biology (as opposed to a biology of parts) look like? Although this paper considers the possibility of wholism as a companion to pedagogies of distinction, it does not suggest that we can be blind to difference in learning or identity. Instead, it considers the possibility of improving understanding among people by expanding and shifting perpectives in how we learn.
Keywords: Pedagogy, Race, Difference, Wholism, Identity
Prof. E. Christi Cunningham
Professor, School of Law, Howard University