Thanks for throwing it out there. It was a good read, one that I'm still digesting.
I think that the refusal to speak on race is intriguing for the reasons behind it. As you note, it's a refusal to rehash what's already been done over and over. It's also a refusal of the position that he's regularly put in, the position of a "black man" who has to be an expert on race. Because whites don't have to think about race, they most often don't talk about it, or we treat it as something that should be forgotten, because it's so easy for us to forget it. But in forgetting it, we forget to remember that it's a social construct, and so we allow ourselves to be affected by naive prejudices and suppositions. It's easy for us not to read the books he's mentioned, to not step outside of our ordinary boundaries (his example of Tom going to Africa, claiming that he was a minority for the first time in his life, but not seeing that his privilege allowed him to *believe* he was never a minority - brilliant). It's easy for us to not talk about it, either because the subject is seen as taboo, because there's a fear of getting it wrong, or because we mistakenly believe that the discussion was sufficiently ended with the conclusion of the civil rights movement and further talk will just awaken racial prejudices again. Instead, if it's to be talked about, people expect him to talk about it. And he refused while talking about the refusal.
I should make the effort to talk about it more when I see it come up. I've been shier about it in the past.
You want to relate this to feminism, and there's something to it. As you and I know, men don't have to think of themselves as gendered in the same way that women and transgenders do. Men can be several things at once before the notion of being a man becomes significant. Women carry their gender around, sometimes as a token (the first female blank, it's so impressive you did that as a woman), sometimes as a limiter (have you had children yet? Let me tell you about mothering. Why haven't you gotten pregnant? Are you raising your child right?), and so on. Women are expected to be sensitive to gender issues. They are expected to be interpersonal negotiators, nurturers. They're expected to keep track of all the things (like child care, contraception, and education) that are traditionally seen as women's issues. Many times, men don't know to have these discussions, but if these men, and everyone else, were made to talk about them, and read up on them, that would go a long way towards having more productive discussions that don't rehash the "Feminism 101" line.