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Little Rock Revisited – On the Challenges of Training One’s Imagination to Go Visiting

Ringo Rösener
Abstract:

In this working paper, I ask whether or not whites could and should write about concerns of People of Color. To this end, I deal with Hannah Arendt’s controversial article “Reflections on Little Rock” from winter 1958/59. In her article, Arendt comments on the de-segregation of black school children in the USA and the associated unrests in Little Rock (Arkansas) and Charlotte (North Carolina) on September 4, 1957. My analysis of her article is initiated by a confrontation of two other texts. In the first, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race Reni Eddo-Lodge argues that white people are not able to understand the point of view of people of color. In the second, On Kant’s Political Philosophy Hannah Arendt advocates for the contrary that people can understand each other’s point of view when training their imagination to take visits. Since Arendt’s “Reflections on Little Rock” is considered to be a failure, especially in regards of grasping the problems of people of color in the USA, my general question is whether Eddo-Lodge is right, and whether there is no understanding possible or if Arendt missed a crucial step in her own attempt to go visiting? To clarify this, my analysis focuses on Arendt’s use of the term “discrimination”.