Thursday, May 14, 2015

Color of Their Skin vs. Content of Their Character

The very presence of white people is now a so-called micro-aggression:
According to a new report released by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, just “walking into or sitting in” a classroom full of white people is a microaggression in itself.
“Students of color reported feeling uncomfortable and unwelcomed just walking into or sitting in the classroom, especially if they were the only person of color, or one of a few,” stated the report, which designated the experience a microaggression.
I'm thinking this "micro-aggression" silliness has now officially jumped the shark.  How do such people even look at themselves in the mirror?

Update, 5/16/15:


mmazenko said...

So says the middle class suburban white guy.


Somehow, I can't see how shaming people for their legitimate feelings is necessary or helpful.

Darren said...

If I were to feel "uncomfortable" going into a room with black people, whould *those* feelings be necessary or helpful?

pseudotsuga said...

Clearly, not all feelings are created equal--the only feelings that are correct are those felt by victims of the racist cismale society which controls the USA.
The words of George Orwell, that" All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others," are echoing all over American culture today.

Anonymous said...

Here's another gem: Seemingly innocuous questions such as “Where are you from?” and “Where were you born?” are sometimes offensive because they assume that a person of color is foreign-born or not a United States citizen even when they are not.

Talk about projection! Maybe the other students in the enormous state school who are from all over the US and the rest of the world are just making friendly conversation and trying to get to know you.

I'm white and people asked this question in college all the time. People still ask each other where they grew up. It's an ordinary conversation starter in our hyper mobile society.

maxutils said...

mmazenko … you ARE kidding, right? Being a white guy myself, so I don't have a ton of experience being in the minority. But, four times when I did? (George Clinton P-Funk allstars shows, 1 ICE-T & Body Count concert (yes, the militant black metal / punk band responsible for "Cop Killer" ) and a night excursion into the the heavilly black areas of New Orleans … I knew where I was going, knew what the demographics were, and felt absolutely at home without anyone trying to make me feel comfortable because I'm white.

Reasonable people don't have problems with this kind of experience, because they really don't think about it, much. I like P-Funk, I go. And, while I can predict that I'm one of about 5 white people in acrowd of 2000 or so? Shockingly, they are there because they also like P-Funk … and a fun time is had by all.

Looking for problems which don't exist yet does not make one an intellectual, or even sympathetic.

mmazenko said...

I have taught - and advocated for teaching - Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for years. And, I avidly seek to help students and parents understand Twain's use of language and his anti-racist sentiments and intent. That said, there are always people who feel "hurt" and "overwhelmed" by the language. It's just too hard for them to read, even when intellectually they can understand that their feelings are not reflective of Twain's intent.

But, I would never view those people with contempt simply because of how they feel. Feelings aren't a choice - they are a reaction. And, we can seek to improve and control those reactions. But, as educators, it seems imperative that we not look at others, especially children, and declare they don't have a right to their own feelings, or that they should feel ashamed for how they feel.

Seek first to understand, my friend, and then to be understood.

mmazenko said...


You are clearly a superior human being for your bravery and ability to transcend race by not being afraid of Black people at a rap concert. How truly evolved and noble of you. Ghandi and MLK would be so proud of you. I'm sure if you just explain that to people, they will stop feeling intimidated by their environment.

Oh, and please don't ever become a teacher. Somehow, I think you would fail in the necessary empathy department when you have one Black or Latino kid in a class of white students. Somehow, I think telling a kid who is feeling insecure that he should "get over it" and asking him "how he can look in the mirror" would somehow not meet the goals of our education system.

Looking for problems that don't exist isn't helpful. But neither is unilaterally declaring that a problem doesn't exist.

Darren said...

MMazenko: people are allowed to have their feelings, but they're not entitled to having me validate them.

Ellen K said...

Darren: all of this assumes a type of egocentric belief that all white people are focused on the black guy in the room. This brings back an old Bob Newhart Show episode where he has a black patient who is enraged over what he views as racism. Bob listens to his raging then says "Sir, when that man yelled at you it wasn't because he was racist, but because you ran into his car. In his driveway." The man replied "you mean they don't hate me because I'm black?" and Bob replied "No, they hate you because you are a jerk."

mmazenko said...

Spoken like a true educator and advocate for children.

Just more evidence for why we need the study of the humanities. Empathy is a virtue.

maxutils said...

MNMazenko, first of all, it's not bravery to go to a predominately black concert … and, my evolution is sufficient enough to know that neither of the groups is a rap group. At all. But keep trying, Mazenko -- perhaps one day you will become familiar with black musicians' work … Personally, I find it completely condescending to assume that the one black kid in my classroom would feel uncomfortable .. my goal would be to make everyone feel comfortable, and I haven't had a problem doing so. The responses you seem to have attributed to me by addiding uotes are nothing I have said, nor would I say. Were a student to come to me and voice a specific issue that I might be able to help with, I would. But a largely imagined sense of unease is not something one can fix.

As to Huck Finn -- good for you for teaching it … but I fear (and, please, correct me if I'm wrong) who avoids reading 'migger' in class. And I'm saying that because -- It DID represent Mark Twain'sintent. The entire novel is a scathing indictment of American society, and without using that uncomfortable term, an entire level of sarcasm is lost. Do you remember how much Nigger Jim was sold down the river for? 30 pieces of silver … Twain hated slavery, and fully intended to make it appear as ugly as possible, and taking out those words ruins it. In fact, if you do a re-read -- every single scene where it's just Huck and Jim on the raft, everything is peaceful … and Jim patiently tries to explaing the wrongs of racism -- it's only when they go to land -- back to the rest of society -- that people become awful again. Does it require an introduction? Yes, of course -- because black students will feel ncomfortable IF you don't. But if you liken it to the use of the word by comparing it to the very similar "Straight Outta Compton," or "F*** thePolice" by N.W.A.. or "911 is a Joke" by Public Enemy … it's going to click for your black students .. and it may just be your white students who are uncomfortable.

Darren said...

Empathy is one of many virtues. Molly-coddling is not, as far as I know, but I'm sure you can enlighten me.

maxutils said...

And, I want to apologize to MMazenko for upping his snarkiness. I know you're not normally that way, but … I really don't respond well to condescension. And boy …Mazenko … that was condescending.