In George Yancy’s article “Dear White America,” he writes:
What if I told you that I’m sexist? Well, I am. Yes. I said it and I mean just that.
I think that this passage is confusing because it conflates two distinct types of sexism. One type of sexism might be called doxastic sexism – doxastic means relating to an individual’s beliefs. Thus, in response to the question, “Do you believe women are inferior to men?” a doxastic sexist would say yes. I doubt Yancy is a doxastic sexist. Another type of sexism might be called implicit sexism. Implicit sexism is not doxastic; it does not have to do with what one actually believes, but rather with how one behaves. The broader effects of implicit sexism include the persistent wage gap, gender disparity among the occupants of leadership positions in business and government, and a cultural indifference to disrespect towards women.
His failure to distinguish between doxastic and implicit sexism is probably why Yancy has
watched [his] male students squirm in their seats when [he’s] asked them to identify and talk about their sexism.
I suspect that Yancy’s male students would not squirm in this way if asked to accept their implicit sexism. However, I suspect that most would rightly object to being called doxastic sexists, since they do not believe that men are superior to women.
Similar remarks apply to racism, the main subject of Yancy’s essay. Just as in the case of sexism, I will admit that I am an implicit racist, that this is a deep problem, and that I don’t quite know what to do about it. Despite this, I would squirm in my seat just as Yancy’s students do if I were asked to admit to being a doxastic racist, since I simply do not believe that white people are superior to black. I believe that they are equal.
Link to a paper I wrote on Columbia Academic Commons. Here's the abstract:
In this paper, I exposit Ted Sider’s proposed solution to the problem of radical semantic skepticism, as it is presented in his Writing the Book of the World, and argue that it does not succeed. I begin with an exposition of the problem of radical semantic skepticism, then offer one solution to the problem and a subsequent modification to this solution. Next, in a brief interlude, I roughly characterize Sider’s notion of “structure” – whose exposition and defense is the primary aim of his book – and then turn to its application to the skeptical problem. There I pose an objection to it, which, I believe, ultimately causes Sider’s proposal to fail and compromises the larger agenda of his book.