Berkeley Prof Has an Unusual Explanation for How Our ‘Racialized’ Identity Goes Back to the Enlightenment

A Berkeley Law professor recently argued at the 15th annual White Privilege Conference in Madison, Wisconsin that “whiteness” is tied to our “modern sense of self” because of the Enlightenment and, in particular, thinkers like Rene Descartes.

According to video released Tuesday by conservative news site Progressives Today, professor John A. Powell said at the conference: “So whiteness, actually, is very tied to our modern sense of self. And this was part of what’s called the ‘Enlightenment project.’ So that project, which goes back to people like Descartes — remember Descartes, where he says, ‘I think, therefore I am’? So he had the separation of mind and body. He had the separation of the mind, rational mind, from nature.”

Powell’s explanation continued: “So this radical individual that perceives himself — and it largely was a him — as being isolated from each other, isolated from nature, hostile to nature in a scary world, was also a white self.”

“So the expression of the self, the modern self, is actually racialized,” he concluded.

Professor speaks at the fifteenth annual White Priviledge Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo: Progressives Today)
Professor John A. Powell speaks at the fifteenth annual White Privilege Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo: Progressives Today)

Progressives Today captured video of the speakers and attendees at the conference, and released a preview of what they uncovered on TheBlaze TV’s “Dana” Friday. They are releasing more video throughout the week.

Tuesday’s clip largely focused on how white Americans and Europeans are being blamed for the world’s racial woes.

One attendee told Progressives Today: “‘We the people.’ If you go back to the Constitution, ‘we the people,’ who was it? White men. Land owning. Wealthy. Christian. They claimed to be straight at the time, who knows.”

Professor Jacqueline Battalora of Saint Xavier University even argued that the “human category” of being “white” didn’t exist until 1681, when it was made “illegal for British and other white women” to marry a “Negro slave.”

“This law equals the invention of the human category, white,” she declared.

And speaker Amer Ahmed was recorded arguing that Islamic societies have protected minorities from European Christians throughout history.

“Overwhelmingly throughout history,” he began, “over hundreds and hundreds of years, Islamic societies have consistently protected Jewish people from persecution — typically from European Christians.”

You can watch the complete clip courtesy of Progressives Today, below: