The Race of Sound, by Nina Sun Eidsheim: What Good Work Does and Why It Matters


  • George Lipsitz


Like previous Kalfou symposiums—on race and science, Black and Indigenous alliances for environmental justice, Aileen Moreton-Robinson’s The White Possessive, Black acts and arts of radicalism, and the scholarship of George J. Sánchez and Lorgia García-Peña—this convening brings together serious artists, activists, and academics who know that there is important work to be done, and that it is up to us to do it. For more than a decade authors in this journal have argued that race is a collective social, legal, and discursive construction, not an immutable and embodied property of individuals. As a biological fiction that has become a social fact—because people believe it exists and act according to that belief—racism and the colonial ways of knowing and being attached to it create, perpetuate, and exacerbate injustice, exploitation, and oppression. Racism and coloniality are crucibles in which other cruelties are learned and legitimated. Yet racism never appears in isolation. As Cedric Robinson has shown, racism and coloniality serve as excuses for and justifications of injustice. They concern power as well as prejudice, property as well as pigment, interests as well as attitudes. Virtually every article in Kalfou has shown that racism and coloniality migrate freely across discourses and social practices. They do not have one site of origin or expression. Nina Sun Eidsheim’s book and the responses in this symposium reveal how racial knowledge emanates from diverse forms of entrainment, that race seems to be real because we have been trained to think of it that way. By asking and answering questions about the concrete mechanisms, practices, and processes that make race seem natural, necessary, and inevitable, the authors convened here offer ways to address and redress the collective, cumulative, and continuing cruelty of racial subordination enacted both overtly and covertly in myriad ways.





Symposium on The Race of Sound, by Nina Sun Eidsheim