Archive for the ‘racism’ Tag

mini-reunion

A few days ago, I had an interesting experience.  I met up briefly with a friend that I spent every day with in college, but only see every 2 years or so now.  Let’s call her Martha.  And – Martha did not like my jump to the dark side.  Oh no, not at all.

You know.  That dark side where you don’t laugh at rape jokes.  Where you are disgusted by being harassed at bars, instead of “having fun” with it.  Where I, as a white person, try my damndest to not be complicit in the racism of other white people, which more often or not involves becoming the aguafiesta.

In school, our favorite bonding pastime was “people watching,” aka Body Police.  We’d sit outside, or walk outside, and make casual (and high-larious) remarks about the slovenly state of so-and-so, look at that dude’s sideways hat what a douche, and various riffs on the ever popular, “she shouldn’t be wearing that.”  See, the thing is, she’s very thin, and I’m fat.  Actually, I was fatter then than I am now.  And I had Issues with that, materialized in the form of social isolation, constant hand-wringing about others’ imagined perceptions of me, and a vacuum where my self-esteem should have been.

Flash forward 4 years in the future.  I spent 3 of them living far away in hip hip Seattle becoming all cosmopolitan and confident and independent and such.  Last summer I downed the red pill and had my feminist awakening (thank you blogosphere btw), and she hasn’t seen me since then.  Our mutual friend, herself quite an activist, visited Martha a few months ago, and did a little bit of that awkwardness-inducing stoic silence stuff.  Since our mutual friend was my roommate for a time, Martha decided to plumb the depths and see how much I’d been “indoctrinated.”

I don’t think it worked out quite as she’d hoped.

And I was disappointed too; I didn’t expect to play race bingo with one of my best friends.*

I know this is just the beginning, the first of many: as I start to see people I used to be close to, I’ll start realizing just how fucked up some of the things they say are.  I used to say those things, too.**  When I see them again, no matter which action I choose, I will be different.  I won’t be fun anymore.  Even if I turn a blind eye to offensive shit and change the subject, they’ll still notice I’m not participating, and their perception of me will change.

Which is good, if it makes them think.  Here marks the beginning of my journey to Keep Friends and Influence Them To Start Thinking About Their Privilege Without Driving Them Away Totally.

Which would’ve totally been a way better book.

*This round’s winners: “Well, it depends on the context.”  “Won’t people just find a reason to hate each other anyway?”  “Well, my 2 black friends don’t talk about race so it must not be an issue anymore.”   “Well, where I live, I’m the minority, so I understand what it feels like.”

**And I’m sure I will again, since privilege rears its ugly head even when you’re conscious of it.  That’s how it works.

a questionable way to start the day

I know this is so far beyond the pale that it’s not even worth it, but I couldn’t help myself.

 

My boss was sent an article called “The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-intellectuals,” basically rebutting “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” It had some interesting points (about using commercial fertalizer and the issue of nitrogen), so to do a little “context clue” fact-checking (I’m not up on my journalistic political leanings) I clicked around on the website. And I found this article:

 

A Smart Solution to the Diversity Dilemma*

 

Oh yeah. I’ll be able to tell the tune of this website from this article, definitely. (Actually, just from the title, I already do.)  Highlight:

 

“My goal here is a more modest one, which is to explore how we can use immigration policy to make future diversity, whatever level we choose, more manageable. I am going to assume that some amount of immigrant diversity is valuable or inevitable, or both. Given that assumption, our goal should be to carefully select diverse immigrants who do the least harm to social capital. If immigrants could possess certain characteristics that tend to increase social capital, then the impact of ethnic diversity could be at least partially mitigated.”

 

Basically, the premise is as follows: “This really smart, left-leaning Harvard researcher found that social capital is less in areas of more diversity, so the only conclusion is that ‘diverse’ people themselves are the problem. We can solve it by only importing the smart ones!” How do we know they’re really smart? If they pass the Middle Class Values test:

 

“One of the behavioral measures the authors examined was something they called the middle-class values (MCV) test. People pass the MCV test if they do all of the following—graduate from high school, avoid jail, stay married to a first spouse, maintain employment, and wait until marriage to have children. There are no formal laws against illegitimacy, divorce, or idleness, but there is a stigma against these behaviors among middle-class people. People who pass the MCV test are obeying social norms whose strength depends not on law enforcement but on social capital. They are following an implicit social contract. In Herrnstein and Murray’s words, middle-class values reflect ‘ways of behaving that produce social cohesion and order.'”

 

I don’t know where to start with that paragraph, so I just won’t. The final flourish:

 

“The smarter our immigrants are, the more likely they are to trust and cooperate, and the less likely they are to subtract from our existing stock of social capital. Selecting immigrants for intelligence (or a proxy indicator like education) could lessen the negative impact of ethnic diversity on American society.

 

Skill selection is a desirable way of addressing the problem of ethnic diversity because it is already a policy option on the table. More intelligent (or educated) immigrants would be more productive workers, and they would also have a much less objectionable social impact on the United States due to their enhanced ability to cooperate. Putnam’s concerns about deteriorating social capital form another argument for immigrant skill selection.”

 

Ta da!  Who loves conservative think tanks?! Who does?!

 

*This title is so close to “A Modest Proposal” that I almost took it for satire.  I was waiting to read a paragraph that outlined how we could weed out the bad element with IQ tests, murder them and turn them into fertilizer to make the hippie environmentalists happy.