Some thoughts on racism

mcwhorterI came up against my unacknowledged biases twice in the last month, first in the audience at an LGBT event. Seeing how everyone else was dressed–a kind of kinky extreme fashion–and how I was dressed–skirt, sweater, sandals–I felt slightly out of place. It made me realize how awkward it must feel to be differently attired in a “normal,” straight audience.

Second, at storytime at the Albany Library with my toddler grandson, we were in a very small minority–almost everyone else was Asian, mostly Chinese, and mostly speaking cheerfully to each other, as friends will, in Chinese. Both these experiences reminded me how the world around me is changing, how the new order challenges my unquestioned assumptions about normal, and how important it is to be open to these changes. Much better than any diversity training I might attend!

Then this morning I read John McWhorter’s excellent exposition of the current attitudes towards racism on campus.  You can read the entire article here, or a few excerpts below:

“The problem is that the university campus is already one of the most exquisitely racially sensitized contexts a human being will ever encounter in America–a place where, for example, comedians such as Chris Rock have stopped performing because audiences are so PC…

“For example, current ideological fashions call for telling whites to “acknowledge” their “privilege.” This paradigm has no place in a university environment. It assumes a truth at the outset and allows no room for genuine exploration. (“It’s Not About You!” is a common mantra.) Another central part of the New Indoctrination is the battle against “microaggressions.” “…too often, the definition of microaggressions is so broad as to condemn almost anything a white person says or does. It is forbidden to associate someone’s color with any particular trait because it is stereotyping, but then it is also forbidden to say that one doesn’t see color at all–and to question a person of color’s claim of being discriminated against. What begins as a plea for compassion becomes a kind of bullying.

“These protesters appear to miss how Orwellian their terms often sound; the enraged indoctrination sounds like something out of “1984,” not enlightenment…

“What qualifies as discrimination? As cultural aggression? As aggression? What is an ethnicity? What does racial courtesy consist of, and for what reasons? These are rich, difficult questions with no hard-and-fast answers.

“But where the protesters’ proposition is “If I am offended, I am correct,” the proper response is, quite simply, “No.” This and only this constitutes true respect for these students’ dignity.”



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