Patricia J. Williams Essay

Patricia J. Williams Essay

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Patricia J. Williams


While most pundits of America's social and political discourse are either beating dead horses or tilting at windmills, Patricia J. Williams seeks out the racist, sexist, heterosexist, and classist forces that underlie a number of socio-political pathologies. Williams' regular Nation magazine column, "Diary of a Mad Law Professor" is curious in that it often evokes visceral negativity in casual readers. It certainly affected me that way. At first it was difficult to get beyond the name of her page; thumbing through each issue I sheepishly wondered what this crazy lady would get bent out of shape about this week. Though I generally agreed with her ideas, it struck me that Williams was too radical (as if there really is such a thing in a mainstream media culture that chooses to wear blinders). Williams vigorously uproots conventional wisdom as she strips away the "rich-white-male"-centric viewpoint; power and a voice are given to those who simply are acted upon. Like Howard Zinn who has promoted a view of history through a populist lens, Patricia Williams promotes a viewpoint that examines and judges the treatment of the marginalized.

Williams is clearly not the only contemporary essayist with a broad-minded viewpoint on social issues. Katha Pollitt, E.L. Doctorow, Gore Vidal, and Alexander Cockburn, among many others, are similarly progressive in their opinions on society, politics, and culture. Williams, however, has a modified gestalt upon which her liberal commentary about socio-political affairs is based. The way in which the mechanics of society can be explained is a relationship of dominance and submission, a pornographic association. As described in "Clarence X", pornography, on a level greater ...


... middle of paper ...


...aracterization like the Nutty Black Feminst Ultra-Liberal Professor. The key to accessing Williams is the key she teaches us for accessing a more equal society: a society in which pigeon holes are eliminated, since clearly, neither we nor Patricia Williams can be so categorized without losing our humanity.

Works Cited

Williams, Patricia J. The Alchemy of Race and Rights. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1991.

"Clarence X," Rooster's Egg. 121-136.

"Fire and Ice." Alchemy. 133-145.

"A Hearing of One's Own." Rooster's Egg. 137-149.

"Little House in the Hood." The Nation. 19 Jun 2000: 9.

"Mirrors and Windows." Alchemy. 166-178.

"The Pain of Word Bondage." Alchemy.146-165.

"Racial Ventriloquism." The Nation. 5 Jul 1999: 9.

"Radio Hoods." Rooster's Egg. 42-56.

The Rooster's Egg. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1995.

"Teleology on the Rocks." Alchemy. 55-79.

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