chapter  1
26 Pages

The Paradox of Natality: Teaching in the Midst of Belatedness

ByNatasha Levinson

In the preface to her latest anthology of writings by and about women of color, Gloria Anzaldua shares the frustrations that emerged when her students confronted one another directly about racism and the politics of racial identity in a course she teaches on women of color in the United States. The paradox of natality alerts us to the many frustrations inherent in these efforts to navigate the racial divide. Two features of natality are central to this chapter. First, there is the simple and yet disconcerting fact that the world does not simply precede us, but effectively constitutes us as particular kinds of people. The second feature of natality that has the paradoxical effect of acting against the new is the fact that our efforts to initiate the new take place always in the midst of other acting beings whose very presence mitigate against our actions coming to fruition.