Tuesday, May 26, 2009

CSK: Redux

First, I want to thank everyone who has participated in this conversation. The people who have commented here, who have commented on other blogs, and who have emailed me directly have all helped me think harder about this, and explore the issue that was bothering me—and which I now see should really be approached as several issues.

As you know, I’m not the first to raise these concerns.
Marc Aronson, Esme Codell, and Mitali Perkins have all been a part of this discussion ahead of me, and Andrea Davis Pinkney’s thoughts are not to be missed.
I hope, however, that I have something to say that will add a little this debate.

As the primary award for black authors/artists and black topics in the industry, the CSK weilds a psychological force on the industry's ideas about who deserves recognition and for what, and I think that by trying to serve two masters, the CSK is in effect diminishing both its objectives.

Issue 1: There Are Too Few Black Authors and Illustrators in Children’s Books
No argument. But… thus, we need an award honoring black authors and illustrators?

When I think of this question in terms of other people, I see little harm and much value in the practice. I respect and admire the motivation behind wanting to laud outstanding members of a community that has a lot to be proud of—and which yet struggles with incohesiveness and disadvantage. I know the people who support the CSK are not my—or anyone else's—enemies. They are smart, sincere, and proactive people—people I am proud to call colleagues.

But… it's naive to think that the only effects the CSK has are the ones outlined in its description and mission statement. And when I think of this in terms of myself—putting myself in a parallel scenario, for instance being given an award for being a woman in a particular profession—then I do see the harm.

Women compete separately from men in athletic competitions because in terms of athletics, women have a handicap. Basing the CSK on race, I think, runs the very high risk of implying that the people contending for the award are handicapped in some way, so that they must compete separately. The prejudice that black people face in America today—whether the instances are deliberate or unwitting—is not their handicap. It’s America’s. I think it’s very important for all of us to keep making that distinction. Black participants in this debate can certainly never forget it—but they must remember to keep sending that message to others. Separate is not equal.

But let’s say that the CSK committee wishes to continue the practice of honoring black authors and illustrators separately. If the primary purpose of the award is to do this, then the CSK is doing itself a disservice in only allowing black topics.

If the goal is to have more black authors and illustrators in children's books (which I think is a wonderful goal), then that goal would be best served by recognizing work in any topic by black authors and illustrators.

Issue 2: There Are Too Few Black Stories in Children’s Books
Again, no argument. But if the primary purpose of the Coretta Scott King is to honor the publication and exploration of black topics, then the award is doing itself a disservice in only allowing black authors and illustrators.

If the goal is to have more multicultural and/or multiracial children's books published (which I also think is a wonderful goal), then that goal would be best served by recognizing work on that topic by any author/illustrator.

Issue 3: But Isn’t the Real Problem That There Are Too Few Minorities in Publishing?
This is a multiple choice question.
a. Yes.
b. God, yes.
c. Hell, yes.
d. Are you f***ing kidding me? Yes!

I would posit that it's this more than any other thing that keeps the number of minorities represented in books low. As many of you have intuited, this is not because the people in publishing are racist themselves—at least, not deliberately. The people I work with are kind, hardworking people who want to be responsible—socially, environmentally, personally. But that’s not to say they couldn’t use a little help.

Let’s be clear, though—the CSK, whether in its current form or in any other possible form, is not going to have any impact on this problem.

Want to do something about this? Initiatives to address the ludicrous dearth of anyone but upper-middle-class white people in children's publishing would be a tremendous thing for the industry. As has been pointed out before, internships are the gateway for many beginning editors, and no publisher can afford to pay its interns a liveable wage, if they pay them at all. Thus many people starting out in publishing are leaning on their families—and it’s relatively wealthy families that can support their children as they get started in publishing.

I would highly recommend a grant program for minorities who are applying for internships in publishing. Yes, that’s discriminatory, and can be called racism (or reverse racism, if you like). But I wouldn’t be against it. I think such an initiative would speak directly to what we all see as a problem.

If somebody wants to set up a grant program like this, I will pledge $1,000 of my own money toward it.

Issue 4: It’s Not That You Don’t Know What It’s Like To Be Black, It’s That You Can’t Know What It’s Like To Be Black
Here, I think, is one of our biggest problems, and the negative effect that the CSK doesn’t want to admit it’s having on publishing.

There are still plenty of people who think this—as one response to my original post wrote, “…hell, the CSK doesn't have to suggest that you cannot understand what it's like to be black in America unless you are black (for the record, that's not what the award suggests). I'll say it, because it's true.”

In a wider cultural sense, our progress towards a less divided nation is hurt by the attitude among many black people that others cannot imagine what it is to be black—and that to try—to want to go beyond sympathy to empathy—is not only foolish, it's disrespectful.

We who know the tremendous power of books to allow readers a complex and world-expanding experience of another person's point of view should know better than that. And we who hope for a world in which there is no separate-but-equal have to understand that the first thing to go has to be the 'separate' part.

I can bear witness where people outside of the publishing industry—and indeed where black people within the publishing industry—cannot: there are many people who are afraid to attempt to publish a book that describes current-day black experience without a black person to vouch for its authenticity (implicitly or explicitly) because of this attitude and the scorn and rejection such a book risks before it.

I strongly recommend inviting more people of other races into the fight to make black people an equal part of the American dream. Many people have posed the question of whether there is any intrinsic value in white people writing about non-white people. To them I say, Are you kidding me? The more people who are not like you want to know what it is like to be like you—and the more you praise and celebrate them for the effort—the better our world is going to be.

Many of the upper-middle-class white people in children's publishing would love to be more involved in this fight. But as the preeminent award around that issue, the CSK is implying that the only people worth recognizing for their efforts to tell black stories are black people, and the only stories worth recognizing black people for are black stories.

170 comments:

Deb said...

Thank you so much for elucidating these issues. I think you've done us all a great service by picking it apart this way.

Anonymous said...

Prejudice and discrimination will only cease when people are judged individually on their MERIT.
When an author/illustrator submits work to an agent, unless they include a photo, or state their colour/race etc, the agent only has the content of the envelope and hence, quality of work, to judge. And therefore, everyone is EQUAL when they submit because these details are left out.
Nobody is prevented from pursuing their dream. To only employ/encourage someone to pursue a vocation/dream etc because of their race, belittles both the person and hence, their race.

kristydempsey said...

I can't sort out my own feelings on this topic because I have a book in the process of publication with Philomel to which this whole conversation applies. I am a white woman and have written a picture book in the voice of a young black girl set around a particular historic event in the 1950's. It is a very important book to me, not only because it revolves around a little-recognized event but also because I can relate to the dreams and emotions of the main character. It's a true story at the heart level and it touches on what makes us human regardless of race.

I realize that my experiences are culturally different from those of an African-American woman my age. But I do believe (and perhaps I am the greatest of idealists) that we have shared experiences and emotions because we are human. I may not have experienced the pain of rejection and bias based on my race, but I have experienced the pain of rejection and bias. And I can connect on a heart level with any human being based on our shared emotions. If I can do that in story form (and perhaps help others to develop an empathy for someone else's experiences), should I not just because I am not the same race as the person I am writing about? I hope not, and not just because I have written the book already, but because if I don't have permission to feel like I can understand someone else's story, then what the hell am I writing for? What the hell are we reading for?

Of course, the details have to be right. It's the details that make a story real but it's the heart that makes a story true.

I've reflected on this for some time, and truth is, I don't really care if my story is eligible for a CSK award. Do I want African-Americans to read my story and tell me I got it right? Absolutely, and not just for my own validation. I want them to read it and tell me I got it right for the same reasons we want anyone to be touched by our stories. I hope it will not just be African-Americans telling me I got it right. I hope the book will touch people of all races because it is true of the human race on an emotional level. (I already admitted I am an idealist. :)

Yes, I absolutely want more African-American writers and artists to be celebrated and honored. The CSK award, even in its current form, excites me for the attention it places upon excellent literature and art created by African-Americans. But I want to see more African-Americans recognized by the Newbery and Caldecott committees, by the Printz and National Book Award committees, for the same reasons I want to see any writer recognized, not because they are a certain race but because the stories and art they are creating are real and true and deserve recognition.

BuffySquirrel said...

I'm sure there's plenty of value in white people writing about non-whites. What I don't see is the value in giving them an award for it.

Varian Johnson said...

Well said. Thank you for you comments on the matter. And for what it's worth, I totally agree with all of the thoughts you've outlined in this post.

Mara said...

Okay, I've been lurking around forever, but I'm going to come out for this one.

So, let's say a white author (me) comes to a white editor (you) with a "black story." It feels authentic to me. It feels authentic to you. We two white people decide that it's authentic.

See the problem?

Being "excluded" from the CSK hasn't stopped me from writing books with African and African American characters. In fact, I've found them easier to sell to publishers than other books.

But which is more important? To encourage me? Or to encourage the next Christopher Paul Curtis or Angela Johnson?

I think the answer's pretty clear.

Karen Strong said...

Thanks for this follow-up post, EA. Your issue No. 1 gives lot to think about---if you need to recognize black authors/illustrators, you shouldn't limit the subject matter. I know lots of black authors who write on subjects that are not race-related. I think having these types of discussions about diversity in children's literature are important.

Deirdre Mundy said...

"Homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto"

I am human, and I believe nothing human is foreign to me.

----

If people from different races CAN'T understand each other's experiences--if it's as different as a dogs from a cats--aren't we back to arguing that we AREN'T essentially the same? And then, doesn't that justify having different rules for different groups? (Jim Crow, Misegenation laws, etc.)

I think one problem in the post-modern world has been an OVEREMPHASIS on the idea that you identify best with those who share your ethnicity.

So inner city teens don't read the Oddessey anymore, because they can't 'identify' with the quest of a son of a single mom to find the dad who abandoned him, because, well, they're not Greek.

In summation: ARGH!!!!! =)

ChristineTB said...

Thank you, for this thoughtful essay.

As someone living through this experience I can vouch that you got it absolutely right. Separate is not equal but it is, in many ways, demoralizing.

There's an old engineering saying - you get what you measure.

Jolie said...

"I'm sure there's plenty of value in white people writing about non-whites. What I don't see is the value in giving them an award for it."

If they're doing it well, there's value in giving them (and by "them" I mean people of any race, not just whites) an award. That's what awards are for: they encourage excellence.

Mitali Perkins said...

I'm in for the grant program. Come on, publishers, who is going to be first to set up an internship for a great young editor wannabe who can't count on the patronage of relatives?

LindsRay said...

I don't know if this is even worth mentioning...but I've been reading Ezra Jack Keats stories with my children at school. As we were studying him, I was suprised to see that he was white, when many of his stories and characters are black. My children weren't at all surprised...and then I wondered why I was. I still don't have a good answer.

Editorial Anonymous said...

Mara, I think encouraging black people to be a part of publishing and encouraging white people to look at the world from a black perspective are two prongs of the same, important, fight.
We shouldn't choose either over the other.

Diane said...

"That's what awards are for: they encourage excellence."

There are already awards for people, regardless of their ethnicity or subject matter. Awards given by the same group that gives the CSK. They're called the Printz, Newbery, and Caldecott, among others.

If the CSK were the only award in existence for children's books, or even the only award given by ALA for children's books, I'd have more of a problem with its eligibility requirements.

But I still don't get the argument that ANY award, by restricting its eligibility to ENcourage a particular type of author/illustrator/book, therefore DIScourages other kinds of authors/illustrators/books. No one is arguing, for example, that the Newbery Medal discourages writing for adults, are they?

Jolie said...

"So, let's say a white author (me) comes to a white editor (you) with a "black story." It feels authentic to me. It feels authentic to you. We two white people decide that it's authentic.

See the problem?"

Sometimes that's the best you can hope for in an industry overpopulated by whites, but this post isn't just about how "black stories" get published. It's about how they are considered for this award, and I would hope that the judges for CSK wouldn't be a bunch of white people. Or at least I would hope that the whites on the panel have some kind of educational or experiential background that qualifies them to judge. EdAnon, can you answer that question?

If the judges for the award have the cultural and/or educational background to pass fair judgment on a book, then having books by white authors shouldn't be an obstacle to making sure the award goes to a deserving book/author.

Jolie said...

"But I still don't get the argument that ANY award, by restricting its eligibility to ENcourage a particular type of author/illustrator/book, therefore DIScourages other kinds of authors/illustrators/books. No one is arguing, for example, that the Newbery Medal discourages writing for adults, are they?"

No, I'm not saying the CSK DIScourages anything; as far as I can tell, this discussion is an attempt to discern what it
ENcourages. Is it about encouraging excellence in "black books," or excellent among black authors? If it's both simultaneously, then they should make that clear and go right ahead. If it's one or the other, then the eligibility requirements should reflect that.

Mara said...

EA:

But there's no shortage of white authors doing that, and no obstacle to those authors getting published. So there's no need to encourage us with an award.

I guess my feeling is that when recipients start turning down the CSK award, that's when we'll know that it's outlived its time.

p.s. Sorry to come out swinging. I love this blog and usually agree with everything you say!

Editorial Anonymous said...

Mara:
Swing away!
:)

ChristineTB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deirdre Mundy said...

Mara-- just out of curiousity, why are you APOLOGIZING? You comments have been fair, measured and polite.

There's nothing wrong with disagreeing with someone--and EA was deliberately inviting disagreement through her original post--she wanted to start a lively discussion.

Thank you, EA, for giving us a place to discuss these testy issues in a rational, adult manner! =)

(Also, Slightly OT--I think the fear of disagreement and the idea that arguing with someone's ideas or positions means you dislike the PERSON holding them is a very dangerous trend-- If you really like and respect someone, you should feel free to argue with them! )

World verify-Hammus -non-kosher chickpea dip?

ChristineTB said...

Oops - Last post deleted to fix formatting problem:

"Being "excluded" from the CSK hasn't stopped me from writing books with African and African American characters. In fact, I've found them easier to sell to publishers than other books."That's the point. It is easier for white authors than it is for AA authors. Statistics show it still is. Even though the CSK came along to try to fix that, it made things worse because often - it's pretty darned hard for AA authors to sell anything else in the Trade market outside of that narrow focus.

I was sitting in on a local Mock CSK discussion. A librarian commented "Why are the books always about civil rights or some other historical event." I didn't even have to open my mouth. Another librarian who knew me well, piped up "Because it's all they're allowed to write!"

We had a good laugh, but deep down it was our way of acknowledging what publishers won't. There are unspoken quotas on how many AA authors to put on a list and how many topics. And when friends who do pass the gauntlet can't count on any marketing support. I actually watched a major publisher block every attempt by ALA committee members to get their hands on copies of a friend’s book. I bought them with my own money and sent them out.

Trade isn't colorblind and never has been.

I'm all for helping with grants for an intern. But if the editor doesn’t have the power (or mission) to get a book through acquisitions, we'll just get more of the same – urban/ebonics, historical and “magic negro” books - which, by the way – is totally turning AA kids off of reading books about themselves.

Note to editors who are listening: Not all AA kids speak ebonics, live in single parent homes, or are otherwise hamstrung by some AA issue. For the record, my girls - by choice - love Latin, Shakespeare, and score well on standardized tests and love to read. Their friends (all innercity and including the boys) read Twilight (insert coughing fit here) and Artemis Fowl.

What they crave are voices and stories like that that aren't always slapped with a white kid in front of it. They want adventures of their own where they can test out the world without translating and without always being reminded that the world considers them starting from behind or being “less than.”

But somewhere, somehow, editors began to believe that the only authentic voices are the ones they recognize. And sales and marketing is convinced that mainstream books written by people of color aren’t profitable. P&L statements rule the world, don't they? Not the kids – just the bottom line?

So what I'm saying is - that in trying to solve the problem, CSK created an even bigger conundrum.

ChristineTB said...

Interesting statistics over the years listed:

http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/books/pcstats.htm#black

Then go to this page and scroll down to the last section on Multicultural Writing and Illustrating for a fascinating commentary on the state of publishing in 2008 from the CCBC's perspective.

http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/books/choiceintro09.asp

A significant number—well over half—of the books about each broad racial/ethnic grouping are formulaic books offering profiles of various countries around the world. Additionally, the number of books created by authors and illustrators of color does not represent the actual number of individual book creators, as many created two or more books.Thank EA - I appreciate the debate and that all opinions are welcome. No one should have to apologize for speaking up regardless of position.

Anonymous said...

This is an important topic. Shows how naive I am that I didn't realize it was a problem.

I think a CSK award is a good thing. It doesn't mean those authors aren't still competing for the other awards and honors. Like the Orange in the UK--I wouldn't turn it down even though I'd be identified as a woman writer. Huge cash prize, right? But here's a thought: why not have the CSK award be generated by the publishers/authors/writers/illustrators of color themselves? Maybe it will have the effect of building community. The nominators could select from all the writers addressing these issues and choose the best, regardless of color.

David Dittell said...

EA,

I think the internship idea is a great one; in Hollywood we have the ABC and Nickelodeon writing fellowships, which are targeted toward helping minority writers gain entry into the field.

Because of the nature of internships (and how cutthroat the industry is), once you're accepted you're either going to be good enough or not, and while you may focus on minority issues, once the internship is ended, it ultimately comes down to a question of talent and development, not race -- reflective of the goal as a whole.

jimmer said...

I've been following this debate without comment, but as I do tend to side with EA on the subject (the CSK award has made me uneasy for some time), I'd just like to say that as a gay man, to separate oneself or one's minority from the majority for even the best intentions is a mistake--inclusion will only happen if it's embraced on all sides, at all levels.

Katherine Arathoon said...

De-lurking just to say: thank you for a thoughtful post, carefully worded and written. You've given me some food for thought, as have the follow-up comments. Calm, intelligent discussion on the internet makes my heart happy.

Anonymous said...

On the issue of writing from the perspective of a race other than your own ...

I understand that this is a very complex and sensitive issue, but at the same time I think we need to consider the negative impact of making authors/writers feel like they cannot explore racial perspectives other than their own.

On the one hand you have the problem of appropriation that Debbie Reese has discussed on her blog, here and in other forums. She has provided some compelling examples for why non native Americans appropriating stories that they do not wholly understand, can be detrimental to native American people, and also lead to cultural misunderstandings in the wider community.

However, there are many mythologies (i.e., Celtic) that are frequently appropriated for literary purposes, particularly in fantasy literature.

I think the issue is one of power, and some cultural groups feeling like their power - over their own identities and cultures - is compromised through the appropriation of their mythologies and perspectives.

Writers need to educate themselves about the issues of power, appropriation etc ... so that they have a better understanding of how their work will interact with the community. Some people (i.e., Jacqueline Rose, Perry Nodelman) argue that the act of an adult writing for a child is a 'colonising' act, that 'speaking' for the child reduces their power. Yet, I don't think that anyone would agree that adults should stop writing for children.

It is obviously a complex issue with no simple answers, but I think that when we start restricting writers to only being able to write about their own race, we are enforcing the very 'otherness' that the boundaries of creativity ought to be able to transcend.

ChristineTB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tee Brown said...

Are we saying that had the CSK Award never been established, African-Amercian authors and illustrators would (by now) be receiving more Newberrys, Caldecotts, and Printz awards? I don't think so.

In my opinion, EA's Issue 1 is the most valid of all, and the CSK criteria should be revised to consider ALL works by Af-Am authors/illustrators. But all things considered, the CSK has done more good for Af-American artists than harm, increasing both visibility and commercial viability for their works (though, admittedly, I wish they would stop recycling the same names over and over; there are other high-quality writers and illustrators on the scene).

I also believe it may be a little disingenuous to blame the CSK for limiting Af-Am opportunities in mainstream publishing, or for preventing more "mainstream" recognition by other award committees.

Instead of asking the CSK to dissolve or open its doors to everybody (becoming no different than any other award people of color rarely win), why don't we continue taking to task the other award committees for overlooking much of the high-quality work produced by people of color?

Is this a matter of which comes first--the chicken or the egg? If so, the elimination of the CSK award will do nothing to help solve any of the aforementioned problems. The other major award organizations will have to make the first move, giving superior work by people of color its due.

BTW, I so love the depth of thought in this conversation. Thanks, EA!

Tee

Tee Brown said...

Oops, I meant "Newbery".

Sorry for the misspelling.

Anonymous said...

High school was a large building, populated by several different races of kids. We all lived in the poorer part of our city, and all of us were roughly at the same level of total family income - it wasn't much. So for those who wanted to get into University and had the marks for it, there was competition for getting scholarships; most of our families couldn't afford university and we'd need all the help we could get to offset student loans.

Half of the scholarships available were only eligible for specific colored races. The awards that my racial group were eligible for were available to everyone - which meant that I was "competing" against everyone, not just other white kids.



I'm not dismissing the CSK award, although I agree with your post completely, EA. I just wanted to say that yes, white people CAN feel rejection and bias on race. It happens. The solution is not segregation, it's integration - we're HUMAN, not white or black, etc. And we feel HUMAN emotions, relate to HUMAN issues, no matter who the author is.

Mina Humphreys said...

Thank you for the follow up post, EA.

In your post: "The prejudice that black people face in America today—whether the instances are deliberate or unwitting—is not their handicap. It’s America’s."

On the issue of writing whatever you want and whoever you want: Sure, on a ~personal~ level, we are all the same. We all understand heart and emotions and can sympathize and empathize because we are all human. That goes without saying. But on a social/political/economic level, we are NOT all the same. That should also be glaringly obvious.

In that sense, there IS a handicap, and the handicap is not for all of America. It is for those who have historically been cast off to the margins in terms of social and economic advantages. Awards like the CSK -- and other opportunities created specifically for people of color -- are not racist or "reverse racist." They are designed to help people who have historically been stamped on to rise up. To give people who've never been allowed access to get a bit of a running start because they are so far behind -- and not because they can't keep up, but because they have had barriers and obstacles thrown all along their path.

As a result of racism, Black, Latino, Asian, Native-American and other peoples of color struggle to feed their children and send them to good schools where they know they will be safe. People of color struggle to make ends meet and pay bills and hang on to their homes. And if you want to get really real about it people of color struggle with a long legacy of brutality and violence at the hands of European oppressors. That legacy and history doesn't just go away. It takes years and lifetimes to heal from -- and here's the kicker: it is not over yet.

Most people of color are STILL trying to heal from histories of racial violence. In many parts of the world (and, believe it or not, in the US and Canada as well), racial violence is still a daily occurrence. The psychological effects of these legacies and histories are long lasting. There is tons of research that shows just how deeply and profoundly violence of any kind affects self-esteem, sense of self-worth, sense of life purpose, ability to learn and communicate and to function effectively in the world.

THIS is what makes it equal-but-separate. We are all equal because we are all humans living a human experience, but we are separate because there are systemic structures in place to keep some privileged over others, and ~at the expense~ of others. This means there is no level playing field.

Your idea of grants for internships is excellent. It is one step forward in directly addressing the real problem.

Thank you for raising the issues and allowing me the opportunity to share my thoughts.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Mina--- So would you be all right with an award for "Descendents of Appalacian Coal Minors?"

If you look at the situation in Appalachia, those folks have it even WORSE than the inner cities....

If we're going to give awards for Socio-economic status, they should be for socio-economic status, not race.

Otherwise, you run the risk of benefiting people from privaledged backgrounds, just because of their skin color, instead of helping the people you WANT to help.

(example from college apps--I knew a Hispanic guy who was a straight A student, president of the Student Governent, the son of a Doctor and a Lawyer and a resident of a tony suburb. Yet he was eligible for a special 'hispanic' scholarship to Harvard, even though he'd never been disadvantaged and his parents COULD pay.

Did awarding him a race-based scholarship really help anyone overcome obstacles? Wouldn't a socio-economic scholarship have been better? )

If we're going to have awards targeted to specific groups, I think we should be clear WHAT injustices we're trying to address. If it's about poverty and bad schools, make it targeted to THAT. IF it's about skin color, make it targeted to that. If it's about left-handedness or blood type or facial hair, target it to THAT.

Hmmm.... WOULD it be permissable to give an award based on blood type? (AB- americans, or something) Why or why not? If it's because they're not a 'visible minority', should minorities who can 'pass' for white be eligible for awards?

Diane said...

Mina, you've articulated this beautifully.

I am white, and have relatives who still think it's okay to make fun of all kinds of minorities in front of me, although I've made my opinions about this kind of "humor" clear. What is also clear is that in most circumstances, this kind of humor is acceptable among their peers.

At a publisher dinner, I once heard a senior-level publishing staff member remark to an African American children's book creator that one of the characters, whose looks were based on a member of the creator's own family, that the character reminded the publisher of her maid.

I KNOW most people in children's publishing do not feel or act this way. But unfortunately some, in publishing as well as general society, still do.

I absolutely agree that on the human level we're all coming from the same place. But let's face it, this particular book creator probably wouldn't have been at that publisher dinner at all if the book hadn't been a CSK winner.

The CSK addresses a set of specific goals outlined in its bylaws: attracting/rewarding talented African American book creators; encouraging/rewarding the publication of more high quality books about the African American experience.

Other awards address other goals. There is room for all of them.

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to point out that several publishing companies do have grant/intern programs to increase diversity, including Penguin, who partners with the City College of New York to recruit more diverse interns than your typical white upper middle class folks.

that's not to say the industry doesn't need more of these kinds of things, just that it's good to be aware that some already exist.

Anonymous said...

@Dierdre Mundy

Hear, hear.

talshannon said...

I am 100% pasty white blonde girl.

Of my 30+ years on the planet, I spent two blindsided by racism.

The nightmare of those two years of my childhood cannot be understated. It was the most desperate time of my life, and it took years of therapy to overcome.

Having been through racism -- and, honestly, it was a MILD form of racism -- for ONLY two years, I have to say the idea of having to deal with it, even to deal with it in its mildest form, on a daily basis, appalls me beyond words.

During that brief and brutal period of my life, I would have done ANYTHING to have had ONE person I could identify with, ONE person who could tell me, "It's okay to be you," ONE person to say, "Hold on, you can make it, better things lie ahead -- look, here is someone like you who made it."

The CSK has a place in the world if just one child sees that award given to someone like them, when they cannot see any other award given to that same person in any other context.

How many of the authors who have recently won the CSK stood a chance of winning a Newbury or equivalent award? I don't know the answer to that question, but I think it's a very important question to ask.

Deirdre Mundy said...

A number of them, I think. We already mentioned "Bud not Buddy," and Kadir Nelson keeps getting reallym,really close to the Caldecott.....

That's another thing about the CSK--it doesn't seem to honor up-an-coming authors and illustrators--it seems to keep honoring the few who've already arrived over and over again.....

Richard Lewis said...

I'm the white son of dead white men who were missionaries to the lands of the colored. At certain expat parties in Bali, if I want to stir somebody up, all I have to say is "Yup, my parents were here to convert the heathen Hindu Balinese." (They also were among the very few to stand up for common people against genuine government oppression and to visit the politically leprous in jail)

If I bring up religious issues in my published fiction, some reviewers seem to take my background as personal affront and react like they've touched poison oak. I've not sufficiently repudiated my imperialist heritage by maintaining my faith.

I'm married to an Asian, have bicultural kids who go to university in the States and consider Indonesia to be home.

My ethnicity is writer. That's all.

Anonymous said...

Two thoughts:

1) Race, like sexual identity, is a construct. It's about as "real" as the internet and many opinions posted thereof.

2) Speaking as a mixed race gay man, I've seen and heard this all before albeit from another perspective: the lesbian / queer woman / dyke and it goes something like this, "The publishing world will not agent/ buy / promote lesbian novels because 'they' are sexist and gay men get all the opportunities and and and ... " (cue, long-winded rant about why romance novels about Marxist lesbians living in the Lower East Side in 1951 are unfairly not successful as the new Sue Grafton alphabet book.)

At one time, I was very sympathetic to this line of thinking. Then, I got an agent and experienced for myself - not theoretically, but in actual submission, revision, wait time - just how difficult it is to sell and publish a gay themed book, even with all the supposed - and axiomatic (or, "Voila! You're a gay man! Who writes novels about gay stuff! You are now .. successful!") privileges at my fingertips.

Uh, not.

So, I switched it up. Got, to borrow an AA phrase, "real" - about the domestic, U.S. book buying market (where most readers / book buyers are - no doubt vis a sexist plot against men of all stripes - straight white women), and about where stories about gay men of mixed race fall into that market.

And guess what? Writing under a female pseudonym about dumb white chicks has proven to be very lucrative not to mention a hell of a lot more viable (and gratifying) than my standing on a soap box or some other apparatus that never worked in the first place.

If there were, in fact (vs. fantasy) a market for AA narratives (and Latino/Latina, LGBT, etc. etc. etc.), capitalism would very effectively and quickly grease the wheels to make those books happen.

But the fact - the "reality" as it were - is not so much there aren't opportunities for so-called minorities so much as there aren't market based numbers to sustain the sort of economies of scale the currently dominate (and dictate) content and production.

To wit, how many LGBT bookstores in major, centrally located i.e, gay ghettos, have closed the last three years? SEVERAL. Likewise, book stores in black communities are struggling, too. Why? Because the community of readers / book buyers aren't buying books.

Period.

These ongoing blog posts about attempts to refashion consumer culture with politically correct breast thumping aren't just outdated, they're boring. Self-congratulatory posts about "elucidating these issues" ... yawn.

The phrase "minority" describes and defines the neverending story of trying to get experiences which are so specific (dilated), they're better off in niche markets. Self-publishing and promotion (Tyler Perry anyone? He schlepped his books around and sold them out the back of his car, and then wrote and toured plays which have done phenomenally well in the black community) seems like a more realistic strategy for minority oriented writers.

Yesterday, I walked myself into a Borders, asked if the new Mary Gaitskill short stories were in stock (yes, one copy), found it and paid $26 something. I bought it because she's an excellent writer and I WANTED TO READ HER BOOK.

Maybe - maybe - black, red, yellow, gay, straight people (s) need to start actually buying books? Then maybe - maybe - some of these issues will be rendered moot (irrelevant) by the fantastic money showering down on writers and publishing houses?

I am not, however, holding my breath.

Mina Humphreys said...

Hmm, I wonder why my comment never made it up? Was it thought to be offensive? If so, my apologies. That was not my intent.

Editorial Anonymous said...

TO MINA AND EVERYONE ELSE:
If your comment does not appear, there has been a blogger error. Please try again.

I moderate comments only to catch spammers. As long as there isn't a link to porn in your comment, I will post it--whether you agree with me or not; whether I think your comment is offensive or not. (Hey, if I can offend people --unintentionally, of course-- so can everyone else.)

For the record, I haven't found anyone's comments offensive, and I'm honestly grateful for everyone who has spoken and listened to this discussion. Being willing to talk to each other and listen to each other is more important than agreeing with each other.
;)

BuffySquirrel said...

Jolie, if this were the only award I might agree, but it isn't. Sometimes restricting a field to a particular group is the only way that group will get recognition--until the revolution comes, anyway!

Rose Green said...

This is why I'm terrified to write about anyone of a race other than my own. And yet, I do it anyway, because I don't live in a monoracial world and don't know how to write about one.

Thanks for opening the discussion. It's been very interesting to read.

Mina Humphreys said...

Okay, trying again :).

The blood type and well-off people of color arguments are old and tired. Those very same arguments have been used for decades, by those who want to maintain the status quo, to strip people of color and other historically underprivileged groups of opportunities that serve to level the playing field.

If you truly want to support people of color, try listening. But sadly, that is often not the goal of those shouting loudest to do away with grants, awards and other opportunities for marginalized people. Their goal is usually to keep things the way they are because the system, as it is, works in their interest and change is a perceived threat to what they have. (In reality, it is ~not~, but that's a hard sell).

Honestly, the CSK is ONE award. Yet, even if there were ~five~ (gasp!), those five couldn't possibly make up for the lack of opportunities people of color face in the publishing business specifically, and across the board generally.

I am a white woman who, for many years now, has supported the fight of all people against injustice, and I am baffled by the "should this exist" argument vis-a-vis awards and opportunities for under-represented groups. I thought we'd moved beyond that petty outcry and onto "how do we get more people of color in positions of power?"

That is what truly will shift the balance of power. And that is what we're looking for, right? Equality? A just world where everyone has access to the same awards, rewards and privileges? (Which is NOT what we have now, hence the need for these opportunities to begin with).

Anyone who has done human rights work, or worked with survivors of any kind of violence, understands issues of power and control. That is what this is. Those in positions of power and control don't yield easily to the sharing of that power without a fight.

Thank you again for allowing me to share.

Anonymous said...

The "people of color" definition.

It would be a miracle - because it's impossible - if someone could 100% define "race," esp. as it exists in the blended U S of A.

All this talk about power and opportunity for "minorities" is couched in absolutes which simply don't exist.

The fact is, forty years ago a mixed race president was unimaginable. Now, today, May 28th, 2009, America's President is, in fact, a "person of color."

In my opinion, the dialogue / discourse really needs to move beyond outdated notions of discrimination based on x,y,z.

No, Obama's election did not "end" racism. Nor does a Latina Supreme Court Justice mitigate the hundreds of, for instance, women who have been murdered in Juarez.

But these events really, really shift a lot - hugely - the discourse.

Staying stuck in a dialogue that was rendered near obsolete by the 2009 election is, in a sense, to cling to the past.

Where are the books, publishing people, avatars of imagination and foresight, that see where this is going? Where it could go?

What possibilities are being writ as people blog here about one possibly outdated (or, in need of reformulation) race based contest?

Anonymous said...

"So, let's say a white author (me) comes to a white editor (you) with a "black story." It feels authentic to me. It feels authentic to you. We two white people decide that it's authentic."

Hey! This has already happened!! Though not in kiddie lit, but still!!!!

http://www.nytimes.com/ref/garden/first-chapter-love-and-consequences.html

And BOY was there a problem!!!!


Del

Anonymous said...

"If you look at the situation in Appalachia, those folks have it even WORSE than the inner cities.... "

As somebody who moved from rual Applachia to a rust-belt north city recently, I TOTALLY agree.

Rural poor are completely invisible. Not even on the radar.

Rural poor are the ones who hear
about commodities day or 50 percent off at the Goodwill day the day after it all happens. We don't even get to be tough and cool and tattoed with bad reputations and stuff---nobody goes areound admiring rural poor and writing rap songs about us.

It's like a couple of big old trees and the wildflowers growing in the front yard are supposed to compensation?

The other STUPENDEOUS difference---breathtaking, mind-blowing difference---between rural Appa poor and rust-belt northern poor is the quality of education.

Yeah, we can whine all we want about dropout rates and illit rates and what-have-you-rates about the city folk poor, but whoa. Folks up here in the bad parts of the restbelt city are alll college graduates (community) compared to the folks I just left...

Del.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Mina-- my argument was that our current system doesn't seem to actually benefit the oppressed--only those of the privaledged who are best at appearing oppressed.

I think it's important for us to think about WHY we're singling out certain groups for special treatment.

Is it because they were victimized by slavery? Well, then we should structure the awards/scholarship so that those who were NOT victimized (recent immigrants from East Africa, Immigrants from West African tribes who actually SOLD people into slavery) don't benefit.

Are we trying to make up for an economic or educational disadvantage? Then we should exclude those who went to good schools or came from wealthy families.

Is it about the legacy of colonialism? Then we need to INCLUDE the Irish, people from Hong Kong, South Asians, Etc. But exclude the Thai and Japanese since they were never colonized.

But using RACE as a signifier doesn't work. For instance, over at the Volokh Conspiracy Law Blog the other day, they were discussing whether Cardozo should actually be considered the first hispanic supreme court justice.

He has a Hispanic last name and his family originated in portugal, so by federal standards, he should count. BUT his prime cultural identifier was 'Jew', so most people don't consider him Hispanic.
(Like I said, interesting discussion on many of these same issues.)

But then, is race simply how you identify yourself? If you change your ID over the course of your life, does your race change? Are you oppressed if you feel oppressed? Or is there some objective standard we can use?

---
To Anon the gay trashy romance writer-

Your point brings up another problem with CSK as well as with Newberry --

Both of these awards tend to focus on LITERARY kidlit-- so the stuff that teachers and librarians WISH kids would read.

As someone (I forget who) pointed out earlier, what kids actually want to read is NOT "my story about growing up black" but Adventure and Romance, Twighlight and Harry Potter. Commercial fiction.

So here's a question for the African American Authors:

Do you write commercial, or literary? Is commercial fiction a harder sell than the literary? Do you feel like you have a duty, since there are so few Black Authors, to write important literary fiction, or do you write it because you enjoy it?

I think that it (random dumb idea) a black author wrote a series about "Internet wizards"--kids with magic powers who could manipulate the online workd to solve crimes/uncover plots, and the gorup of kids happened to be black (with many a token white guy to be the first to get killed...teehee....), black AND white kids would enjoy it....

But, you'd never win an award, because it would be pure commercial fluff, not deep, important LITERATURE.

But, if we want KIDS to devour black authors and eagerly await their next books, we need authors willing to write COMMERCIAL stuff.

Richard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Celebrating the achievements of a subculture isn’t racism and doesn’t imply inferiority. It’s just the celebration of people with a shared identity honoring that identity. Race and ethnicity and the histories behind them are beautiful things and shouldn’t be pushed into the shadows. I would have no issue with a group of German-Americans celebrating their Germaness, or French-Americans celebrating their Frenchness.

This award doesn’t stop any person from writing from whatever perspective they want. Nor is it judging those who attempt to write outside of their own cultural experiences. From the little I’ve read about it, it just seems to be the African-American literary community celebrating its Blackness, and I can’t see anything wrong with that.

Nicole

Anonymous said...

ChristineTB said:
"There are unspoken quotas on how many AA authors to put on a list and how many topics. And when friends who do pass the gauntlet can't count on any marketing support. I actually watched a major publisher block every attempt by ALA committee members to get their hands on copies of a friend’s book."

This is a pretty big statement, and I'm wondering where you got this information, and when. I'm a children's book editor at a big house, and I have friends at most of the other big publishers, and none of us has ever encountered quotas regarding AA authors or topics. In fact our experience has been the exact opposite: we'd love to find more great books by AA and other non-white authors. And we'd really love to find more great books about contemporary kids who are not white, regardless of the race of the author.

Unfortunately, few of the manuscripts we see on submission--great or otherwise--are either about or by non-white people. Add that to the fact that an editor is only falling in love with and signing up a very small percentage of what she sees, and it's not surprising that there are relatively few children's books by or about African Americans or any other non-white race.

I don't mean to reduce this to a numbers game--certainly the issue of race in children's publishing and awards is far more complex, as other posters have written about with great eloquence. I just want to point out that what readers see on bookstore shelves and in awards press releases are the end result. The starting point for publishers is what we see on submission, and we simply do not see nearly as many manuscripts by or about non-white people as you would think--or hope.

ae said...

Dear Editor 6:17 PM,


What I find interesting is that for a no name (as in not yet published author) you have no way of knowing the writer's race. All you see are the words presented to you. So race at this stage (and at any stage) is irrelevant. (Unless of course you've met this person and remember him/her and form some preconceived notion.)

I wrote (dummied up, and partially illustrated... at this point) and have on submission what I think is a multicultural, historical pb biography (at the very least it touches on the values and talents of different races and cultures in music); and I don't think I need to tell you what race I am. It really doesn't matter. It should be all about the visual, authentic, accurate, inspired and lyrical writing. And the hope that kids get excited about it, and pick up something good from it.

:)

Richard said...

My earlier paired comment was not correctly posted:

*******

One need not be ‘of color’ to understand racism. Those who hold that color determines understanding.

When I was teaching high school Biology, a young woman (Sowmya) was teased by a young Italian because she was a ‘Paki’. By disparaging her race, he repeatedly reduced her to tears.

When I learned of his behavior & her reaction, I privately pointed out to her that she was accepting his racial judgments. Just as he judged her by her race, she judged herself by the same shallow standard. She was hurt by his evaluation of Pakis, because she accepted that her identity hinged on her being a Paki. She too was racist!!

I explained that she was granting him his premise, and was judging herself in agreement with that premise. If he was racist, she should not be hurt, but should simply dismiss him as an intellectual Neanderthal.

Why should she see herself as a Paki, just because he did? She had an independent mind, she was being educated according to Western Values —an education which views all humans as tabula rasa regardless of race. Yes, she had some genes that were 0.1% of her genome that made her appear Pakistani. What about the other 99.9%?

I told her (this is from memory) of the Black American Orchestra Conductor, who applied for the prestigious position of conductor of the Atlanta Orchestra. He was short-listed for the position. However, shortly before he was informed of his that he won the position, he saw a public statement from the Atlanta Orchestra Administration that they were determined to increase the 'representation' of Black Americans in their organization.

He wrote a cogent Op-Ed in USA Today(?), remarking, "I will never know if I achieved the position because my knowledge of classical music and its performance was outstanding, or if my skin happened to be of an opportune color." (Again, I quote only from memory.)

Imagine working your entire life, seeking excellence in a specific goal, only to discover that your skin color was the greater concern of your admirers.

I suggested to Sowmya that next time the Italian boy teased her, she make fun of his stereotypical view of Pakis by enhancing her Paki accent, using humor to wipe out tension.

cont'd...

Richard said...

...
Well, she was so thrilled by my arguments that she pulled out all the stops. Using her thickest Paki accent she attacked his Italian background; his love of "streengy noodulles" with fat tomatt-ohs", of waste dough topped with "whateva", of how his mother is "for-evah wearing black, you kno", of how wine seemed his reason for living, & you people kill each other in the stands just for watching 'feuttball'.

He was in stitches, and nearly fell out of his chair. She was relentless using her Paki accent to utmost advantage, even making fun of Pakis.

Sowmya learned that the worst thing a person of any race can do is ACCEPT the premise that race matters. I called it "Reflex Racism" —where a member of a particular race accepts someone's racist sentiment by applying it to themselves.

The young man was not really so racist after-all, he had just found her weak spot. It became obvious after only a week or two, that he began to admire her.

How many apparent racists, today, are as simple as that young man? I think most are.

Today’s racial problem is among Blacks and Hispanics who, as Reflex Racists, see racism at every turn. They still think that because their grandparents suffered, they too must also be suffering &/or that today's Whites must pay. They are like Sowmya, but many have a bent for revenge upon innocent Whites.

They must be shown that White America has, in 50 years (a long generation), gone from being truly racist, to being utterly paranoid about using race as an issue. Only America could make such a rapid transition. The reflex racists must stop picking at old wounds that are not even their own. Yes, there are some Neanderthals, but they can only hurt the Reflex Racists. Their reaction does more to encourage racism among the Neanderthals (of any color) than inhibit it.

Sadly, the CSK awards identify Blacks by skin, not by their independent "tabula rasa minds. The CSKs affirm the faulty view of Reflex Racists. I do not think the CSKs should exist. As long as manuscripts are color blind (see Anonymous, May 26, 2009 8:05 AM, and ae, May 30, 2009 7:57 AM, above) then there is no need!

Richard said...

Nicole, May 29, 2009 3:04 PM, and a few hints from Mina H., argue that colored people need some sort of hand up, because their ancestors were down trodden. Via my above comments, I hope readers can see that this is a false notion. The white community is bending over backwards to avoid racist judgment of any kind, whilst leaders of the black community finds racism at every turn. The real Black must divorce him~ or her~self from such 'leaders' and pursue a life of their own. This is a message Bill Cosby has been promoting, only to be rousingly insulted by outspoken blacks —who smear him as being an "Oreo", as if excelling in life is a white phenomenon that blacks should eschew!!!!!

No, the CSK awards are, in and of themselves, racist and wrong. They promote the view that judgment must first consider race. Racial differences constitute some 0.1% of the genome of a human being, yet that is given preeminence. How foolish, and how Neanderthal?

As at least three comments above have pointed out, so long as the race of the author and the protagonist is irrelevant to whether or not a book is published, then racism is not an issue. It is clear to me that a lot of titles have been published on a racist basis: stories of escaping slaves that are mere repeats of similar stories, stories of slum dwellers that are repeats, stories of whites befriending blacks that are repeats, and so on.

None of that superfluous nonsense helps anyone. What is needed is stories that encourage children to think, to discover the world, to acquire and use knowledge to create personal security and wealth, through honesty and independence. These are the things the young need, NOT a focus on their damned skin color.

Anonymous said...

KristyDempsey,

I think books like yours are a reason some black kids just don't like to read books where the protagonist is black. Kids get sick and tired of reading about the plight of the black person in America, and eventually even the big events like the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the bombing of the church get annoying to hear about all the time.

Why do books about black people always have to be about civil rights and Very Important Moments in black history? Why can't they just be fun books about wizards, vampires and the like?

Anonymous on May 28th at 9:40...

You can't possibly be serious. Saying that Obama's election rendered all discussion of race obsolete is the most ignorant thing I've heard since... Well, since the last time someone said that Obama's election ended anything to do with race. Even during the campaign, people all over the place were making racist posters, billboards, lots of propoganda everywhere.

And saying that his election (which was in 2008, by the way) has somehow affected book awards is nonsensical. The fact is that his presidency does not make the book world a level playing field. It does not mean that black authors will automatically get more recognition. It does not mean that there will be more black protagonists in genre and commercial fiction. The race of our president does none of that. AUTHORS have to do that.

Saying that race doesn't matter is only proof that it DOES. It certainly doesn't matter in a which-water-fountain-you-can-drink-from way anymore, but it still matters. If it didn't, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Once upon a time, stepfathers were considered something shocking. Now, no one blinks an eye when they find out someone is or has a stepfather.

Once upon a time, relations outside of marriage were a scandel. Now, no one cares nearly as much.

Once upon a time, being a single mother wasn't okay. Now, it is.

No one remarks upon these things anymore because they don't matter. The fact that people are at each other's throats over race means that it still does. Especially to the minorities who aren't getting their fair share of recognition. Obama's election does not change that.

Richard,

Saying that minorities are simply imagining racism is really condescending. Reflex Racism is a term I hope never comes into popular use.

You're ignoring that, while some people are hypersensitive about so much as mentioning race, there are others who are still very much racist. Your blanket statement that all whites are more enlightened is wrong. It just is.

And I am offended by the notion that it's wrong to be hurt when people are being racist. I agree that morons like that shouldn't be given power, but to suggest that no emotions should be involved is ludicrous. And to further suggest that being hurt makes one racist, is insane.

To be continued...

Anonymous said...

Were the civil rights demonstrators of the 1960s racist for being hurt, offended, angry, etc. at their treatment? Are the people who took offense when white kids hung a noose from a tree in the South racist? Is anyone who gets their feelings hurt because a bigot calls them a dirty name racist? Are the people who cry because someone calls them a terrorist, attacks them, or orders them to go home (meaning somewhere other than America) racist? Just because they are HURT or FEEL SOMETHING doesn't mean they buy into it.

I think it's important that black kids have authors who "focus on their damned skin color". I think it's important for black kids to see a successful author, and have someone to whom they can relate better than a white or other race author. I think it's important for black kids to have characters like them that they can relate to. White kids certainly have their fair share.

Why shouldn't black kids get to see characters who resemble themselves in books? Don't they deserve that?

Why shouldn't black parents (or white parents of black kids or whatever) be able to point to a book by a black author and tell their kids that someone like them wrote it?

Can you name ten black authors off the top of your head? Or ten black protagonists? In books written in the last ten years? I admit, I can't. And, of the few that I CAN name, they aren't exactly commercial or genre fiction. They aren't books that most young kids are going to like, or that their parents will even allow them to read.

And that's a serious flaw. There's a lack of diversity in the literature of a world full of diversity. And I think it's crazy to suggest that all black kids need are good books, and we shouldn't worry that there are no good books with people who look like them and have a similiar history or place in life.

Silicon Valley Diva said...

Bravo for having the guts to come forward with this very important issue. I sure don't have the answers, but I'm so glad you and others in the publishing industry aren't shying away from this and hitting it head on!

Janet Costa Bates said...

I am strongly in favor of an internship grant. I know there are some who would disagree but as a career counselor at a major university, I have seen firsthand the difference that one's family background, experiences and finances make in a student's career search. And, just being honest, I see many more white students bringing those benefits with them than students of color. I look forward to the day where 'level the playing field' programs become unnecessary but we are still far from that day. (And just for the record, I put my heart and soul into helping every student I see, no matter their race.)

So, EA, put your cash on the table and hopefully others in the publishing industry will join you. I will do my best to promote the grant.

p.s. A few years ago, I won Lee and Low's New Voices Honor Award for writers of color. I did not feel marginalized, demoralized or belittled. I did not (and still do not) feel limited. I felt honored, grateful and, most importantly, encouraged. Maybe my dreams are big, but I would love someday to be able to feel the same about the Coretta Scott King Award.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Janet--

Just out of curiousity---how does Lee and Low determine that someone is "of color?"

For instance, based on your name, you could be half-scottish and half-italian. Did you have to send a picture? Write a biography? Take a blood test? Submit a family tree with proper documentation?

Oh! Over the weekend I wondered about another thing-- So a black or mixed race child adopted by a white, upper middle class family and given all those advantages is still considered a minority, right?

What about the following case:

(I admit, I came across it in a novel, so it might not be realistic example (and the name of the novel is escaping me... but it was an award winner by someone famous, so if one of you guys can help me out? =) ))

Imagine a white boy is adopted by a black family. They face incredible racism in their white suburb (it was the 70s, I think) and so they move to an inner-sity black neighborhood, hoping things will be easier for their family.

Is the boy, who's been raised since infancy with his parents, black or white? He's had the same bad schools, the same dangerous neighborhood, the same cultural background as all the black students he knows. Only his skin color is different.

Should HE be eligible for special awards and scholarships? Or is this not about culture at all, and only about melanin?

I guess I'm just confused in general about how we define 'race.' Especially since I always learned in school that things like the one-drop rule and the grandfather clause were terribly wrong, but now I'm told that if used correctly they're terribly right.

And especially since, for instance, the idea of these things as reparations for slavery then also rewards recently arrived in the US descendents of slave-sellers and slave-holders.

And why are we using 'race' as a shorthand for 'disadvantaged?' Is someone who grew up attending fancy prep schools and Ivy leagues really 'disadvantaged' just because his skin is darker?

Or is it just that we're using a sledgehammer when a tack hammer is the appropriate tool?

Deirdre Mundy said...

Oh, btw--

Lee and Low, as a private firm, has the right to choose authors on whatever basis they deem profitable.

I think one problem with CSK is that, as an official offshoot of the ALA, it seems a little more problematic. Because the ALA DOESN"T give awards targeted to Germans or Appalachians or Albinos........ So it DOES, on the face of it, seem unfairly exclusionary....

Diane said...

Deidre, various areas of ALA in fact do give a number of different awards for different kinds of people and media. Please fact-check before making blanket statements like this.

ALA, through its ALSC division and in partnership with ALA affiliate REFORMA, offer the Pura Belpre awards for Latino authors and illustrators, for example. This in no way takes away from the many, many awards already offered to authors and illustrators regardless of ethnicity. If there were interest within ALA to a) form a round table, committee, or other group dedicated to promoting German or any other kind of literature, and b) that group decided to create an award, there is a clear process for that at ALA.

Also, everyone, please remember, it is no different for a unit of ALA to offer an award designed in a manner of its choosing than it is for a company like Lee and Low. ALA is not a government agency, it is a private organization, as is a publisher.

It is true that ALA is a 501 (c) 3 charitable educational association with all the benefits and responsibilities such status entails.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Diane-

Thanks for the info--

It also looks like 503(c)b's are NOT subject to anti-discrimination laws, so from a legal perspective, the ALA is all Kosher.

Richard said...

Re: Anonymous May 31, 2009 11:34 PM (hence: “Anon”)

First, I did not say “all whites”. I was making a sound (not hasty) generalization, so please do not accept Anon’s Fallacy of Division in order to disagree with me.

I am trying to make a much bigger point, in a small comment box, than Anon, and likely others, are grasping.

Every person is unique, an individual, —even twins. Twins do have structural differences —starting with the obvious, non-trivial, fact that they do not share a single atom. As the twins mature, new differences arise. They have different perspectives on every event they share, and will often have very different life experiences. Over the years, those experiences influence their psychology and character. Moms of twins will see differences within hours after they are born.

That was twins. You cannot get much more equal than that. Nonetheless, twins truly are individuals, and often dislike being lumped together. So what the heck are members of a race… super twins, to be lumped together too?? Not hardly; and, I am not being facetious. Within any race, huge variation is evident. Variations are not only external. Some have large stomachs (I mean gastrically) and others have dramatically small stomachs. Whether external or internal, assuming normal physical and mental development, these traits have no influence on their intellectual choices, especially in youth.

Nonetheless, the mind has, by nature, a grouping capability (concepts entail sophisticated grouping, from concretes and from abstractions). A person’s mind can group things correctly, or incorrectly. One false method occurs when one improperly uses non-essentials (e.g. Aristotle included Bats with “Birds”, mainly out of desperation). It is no wonder that People tend to see people as belonging to one group or another, using all sorts of criteria. Depending on the context, the group may be legitimate (Far Left Democrats reject Capitalism) or may not (Religious people are Capitalists).

However, without a rational context, failing to see people as individuals is to group people by non-essentials. Proper contexts, for example, may entail those of anthropological studies, or genetic lineage, or political leanings etc. Even then, one must be aware that they are generalizing and exceptions are likely.

Grouping by non-essentials, such as skin-color, constitutes an error of epistemological method, whether one is being racist towards someone or is personally hurt by racist comment.

How ridiculous is it to argue that large stomach people are socially superior; or that stomach size explains what they think and do —it's ridiculous. Yet, by focusing on skin color and similar superficial features, racism (reflex too) constitutes faulty conceptualizing.

The more people who understand Racism & Reflex Racism, the less racism the world will have. Non-racists will see genuine racists as absurd, and will disregard them as readily as one walks past a yard containing a growling dog. (It is a different discussion should the dog escape, or the racist become violent, as it becomes a matter of constitutional law).

The more people who are “offended by the notion that it is wrong be hurt when people are being racist” (Anon), the more upset Reflex Racists we will have, and the more people will agree that race matters. Children are the most susceptible, & adults should know better. Anon’s position offends the intellectual ability of the very people s/he appears to be defending. That is, s/he does not credit the victims’ of having the capacity to properly think and reason about racism, relegating them to the personal, shallow, racial-offence level.

The problem is that racial significance is given importance by most people in our society. Anon’s every disagreement with me is based on accepting that premise. Doing so continues to give importance to racism. It is akin to saying, "Don't think of a White Elephant!"

cont’d

Richard said...

Anon then refers to the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s. To the extent that the laws and police actions were race based, the movement was definitely legitimate. It is not wrong for anyone to take offense over a direct threat, regardless of race. That last detail is what people do not seem to grasp, conflating “sticks and stones” with “words”. That said, it is perfectly accurate to observe that a great many members & supporters of the Black civil rights movement were reverse racists, and no doubt reflex racists as well.

I am white, and British. At the age of seven years, I have had Canadian teachers presume I was an arrogant snob because of my accent. One teacher regularly used corporal punishment (strap) on me for “thinking [I was] better than the rest of us” when I was just trying to answer a question (I dared not tell my parents). I was often insulted and bullied in playgrounds. It was damaging, because no one came to my defense, & no one taught me what was right. Fortunately, I figured it out on my own, because I realized the Indians in my class were getting the same treatment as I. Some became my friends, as did some ‘whites’. Ever since, I have increasingly understood what it is not to be bigoted.

One part of being immune to bigotry is to not waste time in one’s life by dwelling on what other people ‘feel’ about you… move only with those who think properly. You may dislike Ayn Rand, but in her book, “The Fountainhead” about being true to oneself as an individual mind, she is absolutely right.

Anon. asks, Are the people who cry because someone calls them a terrorist, attacks them, or orders them to go home (meaning somewhere other than America) racist? Just because they are HURT or FEEL SOMETHING doesn't mean they buy into it.

Please note that Anon has packaged physical violence (“attacks them”) with words that are not even threats. These are two very different issues, and by combining them he commits a form of Petitio Principii, var. complex question/buffering-up. I will disregard the idea of physical attack as the separate matter of law that it is.

Thus, my response is, emphatically, “Yes, and yes they do.” However, please be careful with my response means:
E.g. 1 A woman or black man who is refused a job because of gender or color should have no desire to work for that employer. What other race haters are on staff? The woman or man’s only responsibility to himself is to be the best person for the job. Then, when hired by a fair-minded employer he will be happy and will be working for the person who deserves him. In so doing, his excellence advances the cause of non-prejudice more than will any law, demonstration, or public whining. Besides, why put all that talent in the hands of an employer who does not deserve it?

E.g. 2 A parent, on seeing his child suffer from the bigotry of others may be hurt for his child, but his job is to encourage his child in the proper psychological response by showing the proper reasoning. Read (don’t just Google) “To Kill A Mockingbird” (by Harper Lee), and consider the difficulties faced by Atticus Finch, through the eyes of his daughter.

Anon’s position amounts to a subtle version of an Archie-Bunker remark: “Some of my best friends are Black/Jewish/Gay/etc.”

Jolie said...

why put all that talent in the hands of an employer who does not deserve it?So that one may eat and pay the bills. We all want "deserving" employers and should seek them out, but in the meantime we sometimes have to settle for less in order to survive and support our families.

Also, I think perhaps we should all clarify what we mean when we say "race matters." Some of you are interpreting this statement as a belief on the part of the commenter that race SHOULD matter--that it is inherently significant. But I think that when people say "race matters," they mean it as an observation that race is an important subject, and that racism is therefore not yet dead (as opposed to a belief they'd teach their kids--e.g. "Now, Junior, remember when you play with your little friends: race does matter!").

It's difficult to have a meaningful discussion when some participants think the debate is about ideals and the abstract, while others think the debate is about reality and the concrete. Both facets of The Big Race Discussion are important, but they have to be addressed separately.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Jolie-- re: the two different discussions (abstract v. concrete):

I think one of the reasons we're running into that problem is because there are so FEW places to honestly discuss this, so everyone is jumping in. =)

That said, I think that the abstract ideas behind a policy are important. Policies are attempts to apply abstract ideas to concrete situations.

So, to decide if a specific policy is effective, you really need to look at how well it embodies the ideas AND how well it remedies the concrete situation.

So, back to the CSK and other children's book things we have the ideals: People should be judged base on their writing, not on their race. All children should have quality books to read and enjoy.

The situation on the ground: Minority writers are underrepresented in children's books, there are few non-literary children's books featuring minority characters.

And one attempted resolution:
The CSK award honors black authors who write excellent fiction that covers a very narrow range of topics and genres.

I guess this discussion is not as helpful and to-the-point as it should be... such is the nature of the 'net--a panel discussion, or dueling essays ala' Cato Unbound might be more efficient, but EA is probably not the place for that -

(unless she wants to spend some of her already limited time soliciting honest opinions from people throughout the industry and organizing an online colloquium.....)

If someone DID want to do that, it would be helpful if it was someone who had a good name/ exposure---like School Library Journal or someone..... But they'd also have to be someone who was willing to deal with contraversy....

Anyway, for the meantime, we'll all just have to cope with hashing it out thriugh disorganized comments! =)

Richard said...

Jolie, your point:
"We all want "deserving" employers and should seek them out, but in the meantime we sometimes have to settle for less in order to survive and support our families."
is certainly legitimate. I thought of addressing it, but had already written far too much (thanks for reading that far :-).

However, deciding what constitutes a deserving employer requires a judgement of many factors —issues of business practice, politics, fashion, motives, language skills, culture and so forth.

They all matter in the sense you mean. However, when an issue becomes a Politically Correct cause that brings people to contribute to the very mindset they oppose, then something is very wrong!

In fact, the politically correct anti-racists accept the same premise as any racist ... that race matters.

There are movies like "Roots", holidays like "Black History Month", and Black-only schools. In fact, this Fall, Ontario's Ministry of Education is opening such a school. One of the most eloquent arguments against it came from a poor Black Women (paraphrasing): "What is wrong with people? Isn't this exactly what we have been fighting for 100 yrs to end?"

A number of prominent white people had been saying the same thing, but few listened until she spoke... hmmmmmm, a subtle racism??? You bet.

The dominant division on racism has, for at least 50 years been the "let's help Blacks" anti-racists, vs. the "let's hate Blacks" racists.

Hating or Helping one race, is a False Alternative. In any false alternative, both sides accept a common, deeper premise, in this case, that race matters.

I think my previous comments make it clear that race does not matter, and judgments on the basis of race constitute faulty reasoning. Racism is no better than primitive tribalism: e.g. Hutus killing Tutsis in Rawanda (& in this case both sides are ALL black!). Both are the most despicable form of collectivism. Moreover, I consider it to apply to PC-anti-racists, reflex racists and old-fashioned racists alike.

Richard said...

Even science is misused to support this primitive collectivism:
http://www.vdare.com/lynn/090520_race_differences.htm
(I've not made this a hot link, to avoid attracting wingnuts.) This University of Ulster Professor, Richard Lynn, does not grasp that his very first mistake was to assume that humanity can be arranged into IQ testable groups on the basis of race.

The exercise he is going through has been conducted by at least two other academics in the last 25 years. Their opponents could not argue against the statistical analyses presented, they just shouted a feeble unexplained complaint that the whole thing was racist. Why because they too accepted the idea that people can be grouped by ...race!

Of course, the IQ of each racial group forms a Bell Curve. When compared, each curve is found to sit, along the IQ axis, ahead or behind the others. Here is a plot of IQ by number sampled of several 'races'. I have not read the details of the source, and only include the plot to enable readers to visualize how these IQxRace conclusions are drawn.

What does it mean, then, if 1/3 of Black people have IQ's that exceed that of half the White people? Ok, so some individual Whites are dumber than some individual Blacks, but some individual Blacks are dumber than some individual Whites.

Oh, wait, there is more to notice!!! Some individual Whites are dumber than some individual Whites! The point, everyone is above all an individual. What's more some low IQ's of any race will pursue smarter ideas than some supposedly higher IQ's (such as Richard Lynn) of any other race, including their own.

One just cannot generalize this way, and then apply it to an individual. There is no such thing as "The Average Man."

You can see that high IQ Blacks excel beyond all but the very top high IQ Whites. What can one do with such information when looking at one IQ-unknown-to-you White or Black person? My answer> "Relax, and treat him like a decent & reliable man, and potential friend, until you patiently discover otherwise."

The entire exercise of Racism, reverse or otherwise, to those who understand Individuality and reject Collectivism, is absurd!
____

Now, I am going to toss in what appears to be an utter contradiction, yet is not.

What about marketing of books or cologne or clothing. Should race be considered?

YES, iff race is the easiest indicator of a certain cultural perspective. It will reach many, which is the non-racist goal; it is not racist to do so!

Similarly, when a policeman, or security individual, is suspicious of a particular race because a particular type of crime (even of terror) occurs in the cultural & religious mindset of many members of that particular race, then he is doing the same thing as the marketer. He is not racist, he is working with a cultural subset, by which members of a race form their own lines along a common cultural or racial distinctions (it does not matter which.)

Richard said...

I should like to point out that I am operating on both the concrete level and the abstract level. It is improper to say that, "on the ground" there are not enough books for black children, or there are not enough black authors.

To ANY author concerned, write your picture book, MG, YA story leaving little hints as to race only if you believe that you have an "on the ground" theme that is original and that really matters.

Why write or publish another story of a slave's escape,
of a Black ghetto struggle,
of a Black teen sports struggle,
of a multi-racial love affair,
of a kid becoming a Black rapper,
of slave history (perhaps it should show the history of Blacks enslaving Blacks),
of a Black kid becoming President,
of Black inventors or heroes,
as if generations of Blacks had not had enough of that material drilled into them... always encouraging that reflex racial mindset.

Jolie said...

Deirdre: I do get that the ideal/abstract and real/concrete inform each other and are used together, but I wasn't trying to suggest that they should be separate. I was trying to address the perspective that I see Richard taking, which brings me to ...

Richard: I think that when you talk about whether race does or does not matter, you're thinking of it in one way, and some commenters are thinking about it in another. For example, I could say to someone in conversation, "Race matters." When I say that, I could be articulating one of two general attitudes: 1) "Your race matters to me personally and affects how I think about you." If I'm reading your comments rightly, this is the kind of attitude you disagree with. Or I could mean 2) "I acknowledge that race matters to a lot of people personally, and therefore is a factor in how those people think about you and behave towards you, and by extension has been a factor in your relations with those people. Thus I acknowledge that your race matters in terms of your past experience."

Btw, the speaker could mean both 1 and 2 simultaneously. They are different attitudes, but they are not mutually exclusive.

Attitude 1 is what I think of as ideal-driven, because it is focused on what the speaker believes about race. Attitude 2 is what I think of as driven by pragmatism, because it is focused on observation of the consequences of OTHER people's beliefs about race. And I don't see how anyone can think that the second attitude is racist or wrong. It's simply an acknowledgment of another person's reality being affected by external forces that arise from the person's race. It would be disingenuous for me to say to my friends of different races that their race doesn't matter at all in their lives. Most of the time, it will matter to them, because it has affected their personal histories. This is an unavoidable reality in today's world, and we should take it into account when we write. It's not the ONLY thing we should take into account, but I don't think we should ignore it either. Ignoring it won't magically end racism.

Richard said...

Jolie, I enjoyed reading your point, and completely agree, until we get to the part on pragmatism.

Yes, race matters to some whose personal histories have been effected by it, because, IMO, they have decided it does. You and I could modify our approach by saying "your race matters to you". I am sternly saying that they are in error if they allow themselves that position. Sure, they may have suffered because of their race, but they must not stoop to that level of thinking or the racists win.

I think ignoring it will end racism, and it won't be a magical achievement, it will because to be color blind is to ignore it. How I wish people would!

A saying I love is, "The best way to help the poor is to not be one of them". That could not be more true of racism (as opposed to poverty). I cannot tell you how passionate I am about that... particularly when I see people in terrible pain, shame or anger because of their reflex racism.

Just consider this line from the description of a YouTube music video: "Black people have been persecuted for far too long. Let's finish what our brothas and sistas in the 60s started!" It is horrendously collectivist: b/c all blacks are "brothas and sistas" (note the self identification by tribal language), and it focuses on a collective plight and pity, ignoring those who have done better. There is no pursuit of the actions and values by which members of other races (and not a few Blacks) have used to escape the trap of racism.

(If you watch the video, observe the negative message it sends about, and to, people of one particular race).

No amount of short term pragmatism will solve a problem when their is a deeper principle at stake.

Racism will not go away until mankind tosses away the aforementioned, racist, false alternative, that "race matters"

If the ideas in childrens books lead to poor conclusions ("help that boy, cuz he's Black"), with no better ideas to combat them, then I would rather my children did not read.

The CSK awards approach should lead the way to better ideas, through books. CSK and her husband might understand that.

Jolie said...

Richard, are you saying people who've been discriminated against should simply forget about the fact they've been discriminated against? Should they ignore the fact that their children are being treated differently on the basis of race? If a black child asks his parents why he's being persecuted by his white peers, should they say, "I don't have an explanation for you, because after all, you're no different from them in any conceivable way"? How are minorities to believe that race doesn't matter when everything and everyone around them acts as though it does?

Even if they can get rid of the internal feeling that race matters(and that will take generations), they can't negate the fact that the external world treates them differently than people of other races--that their race makes a tangible difference in their lives. The short term pragmatism has to happen in tandem with the long-term adjustment of principles. Each is useless without the other.

Majority races have to be the ones to take responsibility for how they treat minorities. Minorites must also work to adjust their perceptions and self-image, but they have a MUCH bigger struggle. It's a lot harder to change how you see yourself than it is to change how you see others.

I don't think we will ever live in a color blind world. I'm not sure I would WANT to live in that kind of world. I'd rather live in a world where we recognize different cultural backgrounds, but value them all equally. That's a very difficult balance to achieve, but I think it is more worthwhile than simply erasing our awareness of differences. I'd like to live in a world that celebrates the strengths and beauties of our varied cultural histories, but doesn't even think about the painful parts of those histories because they're so far removed from us. That is going to take a lot of time and effort from all of us.The fight for gender equality is on its slow, grinding way toward that balance--recognizing that males and females aren't the same, while treating them as though they are for the sake of equal rights. I think we'll get to that point of balance eventually.

And I'd like to live in a world where being part of a community (racially based or otherwise) is about enjoying commonality and mutual understanding without succumbing to a victim mentality. It is possible for people to band together in all sorts of overlapping, blurry subgroups without it being a harmful discriminatory endeavor. I belong to many different communities based on shared experiences, interests, and beliefs, and that's not a bad thing. It doesn't mean I don't value people outside my communities. Everyone is different from everyone else, but everyone also has SOMETHING in common with SOMEBODY else in the world, and humans have a natural urge to seek out connection. Voluntaryily formed racial communities don't have to be wiped out of existence in order to end racist persecution.

In response to your remark about art that tells us to help someone because of their race, I would hope that we could hold onto the art that teaches us to help people who are in pain because of their race, or for any other reason. I hope we can hold onto art that asks us to help each other when help is needed.

Anonymous said...

Deidre,

He's white. For awards and scholarships that judge solely on the basis of race, his upbringing does not matter. And, for the record, not all black families have that kind of life. Not all awards and scholarships for blacks are based on how privileged they have been. Sometimes, it's just about the race. And there are awards and scholarships for white people, disadvantaged and otherwise. As well as awards open to anyone.

The thing is, things like scholarships are, by their nature, exclusionary. As a commenter who was not me said, only people who meet certain qualifications can participate in the Miss America pageant. There are Latino awards for T.V. and movies. Those aren't racist. I haven't noticed anyone leaping to say so, either. They are simply a culture who doesn't get much recognition celebrating themselves. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Richard,

'They must be shown that White America has, in 50 years (a long generation), gone from being truly racist, to being utterly paranoid about using race as an issue.'

You implied all whites. You glossed over that some are not as enlightened, and focused mainly on what you repeatedly called 'White America', 'Innocent Whites', etc.

How Aristotle grouped Bats really makes no significant difference to this discussion, as I've never heard anyone reason that since Aristotle thought bats and birds to be the same, all blacks are identical. I understand that you are trying to make a point, but no one is actively using Aristotle to determine how they view race.

I think you are more focused on ideals than on reality. Ideally, victims of racism would ignore it and dismiss it for the idiocy that it is. Realistically, that's just not how most people operate. Realistically, being threatened, called disgusting names, being refused a job or something else all because of the way one looks can and does hurt.

You can not seriously expect that when someone dons a KKK outfit or hangs a noose from a tree, that means (or should mean) NOTHING to a black person. especially those who were alive when the KKK wreaked havoc throughout the South. It's the height of ignorance to say 'just ignore it, and it shall go away, for it matters not'.

Saying it doesn't matter, ignoring it, is what allows bigots to expand and spread their venom. If Germans had stood up to the Nazis BEFORE they gained power, if, the first time that they marched, rotten produce greeted their faces, there's a chance they might not have gotten so powerful. Maybe nothing would have changed. We'll never know because no one tried until it was too late.

All that's necessary for evil to thrive is for good men and women to do nothing. Insisting a racist comment means nothing opens the door to more aggressive forms of racism. It's crucial to nip these things in the bud, or they will flourish. And saying that your race doesn't matter won't stop those who believe it DOES from acting upon that. Victims insisting it makes no difference won't stop perpetrators from perpetrating.

To be continued...

Anonymous said...

I never said that victims of racism can not think and reason, or are only focused on the shallow or superficial. What I DID says was that it's insane to suggest that black people should refuse to be hurt. It's perfectly possible to be offended, yet be totally aware that there is no truth or validity in an argument.

If I called you an arrogant, moronic dumbass for thinking your point that 'race doesn't matter' is 'bigger' or somehow more important than my point of 'race is still a factor in this country, black people deserve to see themselves represented in literature, and people can be hurt when discriminated against' I wouldn't be surprised if you thought that wasn't okay. But that wouldn't mean you thought it was right, or that you agreed with it. And maybe you wouldn't give it a second thought, but those who would have an absolute right to be insulted, even if they KNOW it's not true.

There's no such thing as reverse racism. I understand what people mean when they use that term, but racism is racism. Whites hating blacks, blacks hating whites, blacks hating Hispanics, Hispanics hating Asians. It's all the same. Racism is racism.

Ignoring what people FEEL is different than ignoring what they DO. People can BE racist all they want, but it's ridiculous to tell people to ignore when that racism is acted upon. That way lies badness. See above.

And the bluffering thing is another instance where I might be tempted to use the aforementioned insult. The fact that you are nit picking about grammar instead of discussing the point speaks volumes. I listed several ways racism can manifest. Sometimes it does manifest in violence, so I put it on the list. If you don't like it, I don't care. But then, if someone is beat up because of their race, they should just go about their day. Because race doesn't matter, and doing anything in response to racism is only reflex racism. Right.

That was not the only question I asked, and you clearly missed the point. Which was that one can be hurt without buying into the idea that they are inferior. Also, 'yes, they do' is not an answer to that question.

About your first example: As Jolie said, sometimes you need the job. If that same person needed the money desperately to pay rent, feed his or her kids, etc., and had no other options (no family, did not have the luxury of waiting until a better job opened up, etc.), of course they would take the job. And the employer would have no reason to re-evaluate his or her racism.

And nothing I said resembled Archie Bunker. The fact that you think so makes me wonder if you've ever watched an episode of All the in Family. Your remarks are more closely geared to the I'm-Not-Racist-I-Just-Think-Some-Races-Are-Different mentality than mine are. You are saying that race doesn't matter, yet you continue to use racial terms in your arguments, and say that while race doesn't matter, it does, because sometimes you have to target marketing to how a certain race thinks, and certain races are more apt to commit certain kinds of crimes. Your attitude reminds me somewhat of his interactions with Sammy Davis Jr.

Jolie,

MUCH better said in BOTH your comments, than I ever could have. Black people in this country have a different history than everyone else. One that still reverberates to this day. And the equivalent of 'ignore them and they'll go away' as a method of ending racism is just not going to work.

I still believe there needs to be more diversity in literature. If not because all races deserve to see themselves there, then because all cultures do.

Richard said...

Jolie, you have named the Catch-22 that stalls almost everyone. The reason the catch even exists is that so few take the stand I am advocating.

Instead of forgetting that there are racists 'out there', victims ‘add up’ the insults to their sensibility that arise from racism, and then attribute it to the ‘other’ color. Then, in their minds, they approach NEW people of the other color with trepidation &/or resentment, regardless of the fact that the new person is indeed a new & different entity. In so doing, they reduce themselves to that scurrilous intellectual level that is tribalist racism.

Lot's of people will argue, "but it's only natural!". I disagree; it may be normal, or common, but it is certainly not humankind at its best (I in no way meant to downplay the vicious injustice of racists.) IMCO, it is mankind failing to use his rational faculty as he should. That is, in the grand scheme of things few children live up to their intellectual potential because they quickly stop thinking for themselves, and copy those around them. After all, that way everyone around you will agree with you. By caving in to their social surroundings, these copiers or Second-Handers, position themselves securely among ‘family’ or ’tribe’, surrounded by their “brothas and sistas”.

Most children begin doing this in public school, they then go through a complete and utter pretence at individualism from 15 to 24 yrs of age, and then (on final examination) end up echoing and acting on ideas they never really questioned since public school. The Hippies are a marvellous case in point. (N.B. I taught High School Biology, and saw this, first hand, every year.)

Richard said...

Jolie, I am (mildly) disappointed in this remark:
"Should they ignore the fact that their children are being treated differently on the basis of race? If a black child asks his parents why he's being persecuted by his white peers, should they say, "I don't have an explanation for you, because after all, you're no different from them in any conceivable way"?"
…because I already addressed your question in "E.g. 2" in my comment at (June 1, 2009) 1:50 PM. So, I will add to it, assuming you will think about the earlier focus on the parenting point…

First, this may seem to be an aside, but I think it relevant to my argument. Please bear with me:
On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama,Rosa Parks did ‘it’ (did what I am arguing for), firmly and politely. I can't speak for her reasons, but her actions were correct. The impact of her stance was huge, and remains a significant historical event for all of America. I believe her goal was to stand up (well, to “sit” actually) for herself as a person, not merely as a Black. (Please not that all following caps are not shouting; they indicate radiant admiration!) Even if Rosa did sit simply to assert Blackness, it was SHE, wonderful SHE, who was of sufficiently independent of mind to do it. SHE asserted for herSELF as a human being, instead of for herself as a *mere* Black.

I believe Rosa Parks was of greater moral importance than either Martin Luther King or the election of a mulatto President. King and President Obama, for all their compelling speeches, were riding on the coat tails of Rosa, and gained power and attention by appealing to the problems of the ‘downtrodden masses’, —which is the traditional path to power used by all charismatic leaders. These latter say, “Stand on my side, and I will make the change you seek”, rather than saying, “I will free you, from me and all others, to stand on our own feet”. IMO, neither MLK or BHO-II would have had the opportunities they had without Rosa’s ‘singular’ stand.

So, my dear Jolie, your main point is, “The short term pragmatism has to happen in tandem with the long-term adjustment of principles. Each is useless without the other.

I think that view to be most astute, and I quite agree. Unfortunately, the Catch-22 mentioned above, still remains.

YES, the pragmatic must reflect the long term. The CSK awards do not. Anything that says, “race matters”, especially when it says “race matters to you my dear Black child” serves that child no better than saying, “you Niggers deserve a break”!

Was that scandalous, dear reader? Consider, Negro simply means “Black”, and Nigger is no more than a regional argot for Negro. Why then, is Nigger so offensive? It is offensive because those offended believe that “race matters”, and that race is the focus of the term Nigger. Well then, so is Black, so is African-American, so is Ethiopian, so is Tanzanian, so is Tutsi… and so on.

Yep, some people have black skin and big lips, some people have light brown, some have white, some have an olive tan color. The hell with your or ‘their’ race, move on. Get the Fcuk over it!

So I say,
To CSK.

Jolie said...

Richard, please don't call me or anyone else here "dear." It's condescending.

I agree that if everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) ceased to acknowledge race, racism would end. So I have tried to think of a couple of practical methods to implement that solution.

1. Release a chemical into the global atmosphere that induces mass amnesia in everyone around the world. Then they can forget their individual and collective histories/identities, and with luck, they won't notice any physiological indicators of race in one another (hmm, maybe we should release another chemical to cause mass blindness, just to make sure). Race will be instantly dead!

2. Force everyone, EVERYONE, to undergo some kind of brain surgery (this may involve removing portions of the brain, or synthetic implants, or both) that will make them absolutely rational in the way you describe. People will see the error of their past thinking, and they will choose to correct it immediately.

3. If you're unwilling to go the sci-fi route, we can always go Orwellian. We'll establish a global totalitarian government that will enforce a mass gag order so that no one can talk about either race or the past. We can eliminate all forms of history from our education systems, including the arts and social sciences. The people who remember racism won't be able to pass it on to children, and in a few generations, racism will be dead!

4. Kill everyone on the planet who isn't as rational as you. Start from scratch.

I think at this point I've said all I can say, so I may be drifting out of this thread unless it takes a new turn ... the debate is getting repetitive.

yoshi3329 said...

There's only one thing I don't like about the CSK award is that their only "black storie" and when I 'say' that I mean topics on slavery, oppression, and racism. Stuff like that (in my opinion) and never stories like "spirited away," or "steamboy" those were good stories granted their animated movies but they would be great as books too. I only wished that they'd branch out a bit.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Anon-- Here's my question then--

If awards and scholarships set aside for certain minorities are NOT about trying to make up for a lack of privaledge, and NOT about culture (the white boy adopted and raised by a black family) and they are JUST about rewarding a certain person for being a certain race, we're back to the questions of:

1. How does one determine race? Are we using a one-drop rule? How do we know someone is telling the truth about their race?

2. Why is it OK to have a scholarship designated for members of a minority group, but not a "white's only" scholarship? Why are we endorsing segregation in awards and scholarships if segregation is bad? OR is it only bad if it's involuntary?

3. Who determines what constitutes a race? I used to work with a bunch of Ethiopian girls who went BALLISTIC if you even dared suggest they belonged to the same race as West Africans. Yet, for the purposes of scholarships and statistics we force them to identify with a group they don't wish to be a part of. Apparently, Brazilians and Portugese are VERY cranky about being called Hispanic (discussion on Volokh Conspiracy). So basically all these scholarships/awards/check-boxes are CONSTRUCTING races by their existance.

There's a difference between appreciating the vast variety of ethnicities in our country and stating that some are better, or more worthy than others.

And I think the groupings we currently use for race are arbitrary, and increasingly meaningless in a society where interacial adoption and interacial marriage are accepted as unremarkable......

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Editor wrote: "In fact our experience has been the exact opposite: we'd love to find more great books by AA and other non-white authors. And we'd really love to find more great books about contemporary kids who are not white, regardless of the race of the author.

Unfortunately, few of the manuscripts we see on submission--great or otherwise--are either about or by non-white people. Add that to the fact that an editor is only falling in love with and signing up a very small percentage of what she sees, and it's not surprising that there are relatively few children's books by or about African Americans or any other non-white race."

The books we fall in love with are directly correlated to who we are as individuals, our life experiences, etc. Likewise, the books that don't prick us, or "ring true" to us, are judged through the same prism.

This is why more editors of color are needed. They will be more likely to "fall in love" with, and publish, books that would otherwise be rejected.

Richard said...

The "Anon" I referred to earlier has responded. His/her first remarks are incredible, and often incoherent, but he then presents has some bona fide, arguable .

(For grammatical reasons only, I will adopt a masculine reference to Anon.)

Anon writes, "What I DID says was that [sic] it's insane to suggest that black people should refuse to be hurt."

Why, I respond? Does Anon, in his racism, think “dem Blacks' otta be hurt, cuz dey's Black”?

I am not being mean, but I am deliberately exposing where Anon's thinking goes. It goes directly to that which I oppose: seeing in color, regardless of one’s own, immaterial, colour.

Anon says,
"It's perfectly possible to be offended, yet be totally aware that there is no truth or validity in an argument."

So, Anon is saying that giving credit to an insult is to, at the same time, grasp that it is of no credibility? Wow, "up is down", "black is white" and "stupid is smart". Apparently, Anon wants it both ways.

Do you, dear reader, see that Anon wants his cake and to eat it too? This irrationalism is very much at the root of the problem of racism.

Anon has completely failed to understand the idea of Reflex Racism. He is right, in a sense, that:
"There's no such thing as reverse racism. I understand what people mean when they use that term, but racism is racism. Whites hating blacks, blacks hating whites, blacks hating Hispanics, Hispanics hating Asians. It's all the same. Racism is racism."

Still, reverse racism addresses a subtle, misguided racist aspect of confused anti-racists. The idea of reverse racism is no small thing, as it points to a certain confusion on racism, as does the notion of Reflex Racism. I suggest Anon think that through a bit. Yes, reverse racism IS racism, but reverse racism has an special context: its unwitting practitioners, deludedly, think they are correcting racism.

Anon writes, "People can BE racist all they want, but it's ridiculous to tell people to ignore when that racism is acted upon. " I have addressed that point in detail in an earlier comment at "E.g. 1".

Richard said...

Anon writes, "You can not seriously expect that when someone dons a KKK outfit or hangs a noose from a tree, that means (or should mean) NOTHING to a black person."

It depends what Anon means by “NOTHING”. If there is a physical threat (personal or legal) then it must be fought. If the matter is only in speech, then Yes, I seriously expect that …not in the sense that the KKK is no threat, but that KKK beliefs have no rational meaning! This is a crucial matter of mindset, of understanding oneself. Why allow others to harm you with words, when they should be no more important to you than an animal —see my above analogy of a snarling dog— unless they act otherwise? If a radical Muslim in Saudi Arabia screams his hatred of Americans, are you personally hurt? I suspect not, so why should Blacks be hurt by some idiots similar prejudice, just because he is in close proximity?

In fact, ignoring the bigots, en masse is much better PR than vocally opposing them, especially when the PR uses the wrong arguments. Let the bigots froth in their own tea-cup.
I totally agree with Anon's argument about how not opposing the Nazi's enabled them to gain power. However, he seems to think that my position is one of acquiescence. It is not. It is one of active opposition to racism, but not of favoring a race! Were racism to become legally institutionalized (as it was in Nazi Germany) then active resistance is necessary.

The situation with CSK, reflex racism, and other non-violent forms of racism are not a matter of law, but of individual thought/philosophy. In a free country, persuasion and proper example are the proper tools, not pragmatic manipulation, i.e.not de-segregation laws, and not government 'approved' force. In fact I defend CSK's Right to do what it is doing, but I believe their method is a serious error.

Anon writes, "All that's necessary for evil to thrive is for good men and women to do nothing." and I totally agree. However, doing the wrong is worse than doing nothing.

I insist that focusing on color 'correction', as CSK and others are doing, is the wrong thing.

Race must not matter.

Richard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard said...

To Jolie,

“dear” is not condescending, it is an expression of value appreciation.

From dictionary.com: "an expression of affection or respect or as a conventional greeting.”

Please note the use of “or”, and ask yourself which option I was using. It ought to be apparent.

Your reaction on this small matter is a terrific example of how people tend to react according to social constructs, rather than thinkng things through. That is, whilst you were thinking through the issue of racism, you did not think through the meaning of “dear” in the context it was used

Your arguments, thus far, have been measured and intelligent. In that respect, the term “dear” applies. Rejection of “dear” means the addressee could not accept praise and appreciation, even if that was its intent. Such a sad notion only applies if one subscribes to various self-abnegating notions such as feminism and sexism

Richard said...

Deirdre Munday wrote
"There's a difference between appreciating the vast variety of ethnicities in our country and stating that some are better, or more worthy than others.

And I think the groupings we currently use for race are arbitrary, and increasingly meaningless in a society where interacial adoption and interacial marriage are accepted as unremarkable
"

Exactly.

Just stop seeing color, damn it. It is the only way.

ae said...

Dierdre and Richard, I could read your posts forever. I heart you. (And heart counts. Now more than ever.) :)

Oh, and if you didn't tell me your races...you don't need to...I don't care. So there. :}

Anonymous said...

I was enjoying this thread until it has apparently been highjacked by a Richard, who, while trying to prove his point had managed to insert racist, bigoted and inflammatory rhetoric into a civil discussion on the CSK awards. I wish the thread could go back on topic, and not deal solely with what this poster feels about matters on race. Richard this was unnessary:

"Was that scandalous, dear reader? Consider, Negro simply means “Black”, and Nigger is no more than a regional argot for Negro. Why then, is Nigger so offensive? It is offensive because those offended believe that “race matters”, and that race is the focus of the term Nigger. Well then, so is Black, so is African-American, so is Ethiopian, so is Tanzanian, so is Tutsi… and so on.

Yep, some people have black skin and big lips, some people have light brown, some have white, some have an olive tan color. The hell with your or ‘their’ race, move on. Get the Fcuk over it! "

I ask you, what point were are trying to prove, as an educator with this tirade? What lesson has been learned, that when you are involved in discourse, you resort to offending readers of color by packaging it in some thesis of your own making? Shame on you.

Anonymous said...

Wow...just wow.
A poster said...

Why should she see herself as a Paki, just because he did? She had an independent mind, she was being educated according to Western Values —an education which views all humans as tabula rasa regardless of race.

Uh...if you say so, but I don't know if one can say with a certainty exactly what "Western Values" are these days.

and

The young man was not really so racist after-all, he had just found her weak spot. It became obvious after only a week or two, that he began to admire her.

Respectfully, if this scenario was changed to say, an American vs a Brit, straight verses gay, or bully vs victim, why wouldn't the perpetrator be approached FIRST about his behavior?
What did this girl do besides be herself, yet you advised her to shuck her ethnicity and grin to appease her tormentor. And then she in turn became the bully, calling the Italian lad names, while as the instructor, you sanctioned this. Way to maintain order in the classroom.
Now to me, the Italian kid was WRONG.
He picked on her (and yes, I do know sometimes when individuals like others, they will tease) but making her upset was not the way to show affection, if he even had any. Respectfully, I doubt that he had. I would have thought as a man, you would have stepped up and shown him how a female deserves to be treated. With respect, as I'm certain you show your loved ones. She deserved no less. Just my opinion, but having her tormentor now laugh at and with her is no happy ending. I wonder how she
felt after all was said and done, and not what you think she was feeling, because in your example, you were the one with the power as the teacher. Sorry, but I'd have to give you a failing grade on your interaction with those two.

Off topic;
This is a great blog, EA. I found it via AgentQuery.com

Richard said...

“ae”, thank-you. This has been a tough exchange because there is so much about racism that many do not easily understand. The most important aspects are quite abstract, and the wider the abstraction the more explanation is usually needed.

It is not enough to just deny the use of color in judging a person's character. By some philosophies today, even the thinking of a man is strictly delimited by a function of his race, or gender, or sexual proclivities. Such notions have to be purged, as intellectual frauds.

That latter, ridiculous, approach to intellectual methods and understandings has been brought to us via the thinking of Immanuel Kant. He argued that humans only experience the 'phenomena' our senses provide, and therefore we cannot know the 'real' or "noumenal" world. (The reader who knows Plato will see obvious parallels.) That means that all the ideas we may have about Reality are arbitrary, because our senses are too limiting for us to really understand. The logical corollary of this is that you and I can disagree, and yet both be right.

But Kantianism runs deeper than that: those within a certain group of humans are more likely to agree, because their genes &/or life experience causes them to experience the phenomenal world in a similar manner. Their view is just as right as the view of some other group, and neither can claim the other to be wrong or misguided. Our Black is every bit as valid —and true!— as their White.

In short, because we have senses we cannot sense Reality, so what we experience is not Reality but an 'input' that is determined by what we are, more than by what Reality is.

In effect, Kant brought a 'Tower of Babel" to the thinking of Europeans, and then American academia brought it to the United States.

The Kantian view now dominates academia, and is powerfully represented by such well known figures as Noam Chomsky (linguistics), Paul Feyerabend (philsophy of science) and Peter Singer (ethicist). (I am sure Wikipedia has a Wiki for each.)

What are the consequences of this Kantian approach? Well:
—a White cannot possibly understand or teach anything to do with Blacks.
—a Man cannot possibly understand or teach anything to do with women (this one has gone so far that now male doctors are believed by some to be unsuited for treating women).
— a heterosexual cannot possibly understand homosexuality,
and so on.

Thus, there is some seriously messed up thinking going on, and some of it is reflected in these comments about the use of racism by CSK.

Anon just doesn't get it.

Richard said...

Anon’s last comment suggests a stubborn approach that IS a focus on racism. Whether it is Reflex or Reverse Racist I can't quite tell, but the former seems likely.

He says, because of my comments here, that I am hijacking the conversation. That is the tactic of someone who is losing an argument, and having no other strategy to win, resorts to attacking irrelevancies.

Anon, this is not about winning or losing, it is about what is objectively and ethically right. If you are a Black person, stop thinking of yourself as "Black", your skin color does NOTHING for you.

In these comments, I have been trying to make a true & strong case against racism. Racism is, inarguably, a matter of thought, and it cannot be corrected until all relevant, faulty, thought processes are identified and purged.

Yet, Anon accuses me of having inserted "racist, bigoted and inflammatory rhetoric into a civil discussion". Why?

It is apparently because the mere appearance of the letters "n.g.g.r.e.i", in an order that was once a common term for Negroes, so utterly throws him, that he cannot see why they appeared? So hurt is he, that he hopes to dismiss the words without considering the argument. In so doing he can only see "racism, bigotry and inflammatory rhetoric" in an argument against racism.

(Bigotry is a more abstract term that includes racism and religious intolerance, so its use with “racism” is redundant.)

Anon's confusions are really germane to the entire issue. We have a commenter here who quite plainly represents exactly the thinking that must be eliminated, if racism is to end.

In a way, Anon makes my argument easier, because his remarks serve as more direct, genuine and believable evidence, without my having to seek other sources. Readers may see that he is convinced that the only way to prevent people from focusing on a person's race, is for people to focus on race.

In fact, Anon is so confused that he thinks that my pointing out that contradiction has driven the thread off topic!

He writes, "I ask you, what point were are trying to prove, as an educator with this tirade? What lesson has been learned, that when you are involved in discourse, you resort to offending readers of color by packaging it in some thesis of your own making?"

Well, some people here ARE getting my point. Sure, that was something of a tirade, because racism in any form is despicably stupid. If "readers of color" were offended by a tirade against racism, then they have some serious thinking to do. They are exactly the (reflex) racists to which I refer, else they would recognize that the language was appropriate.

I suggest Anon has found that his own errors are being seriously poked, and rather than engage in introspection (self examination) he would rather lash back, so as to justify (to himself) his own, unexamined, (reflex?) racism. Worse, he wants to harbor it as proper, perhaps because it is a core view in his life.

That, deep-seated belief of his, I contest, is a major aspect of the ongoing problem that perpetuates racism in America.

None of the above insults Anon, anymore than does pointing out a food spill on his shirt. What matters is that he actually SEE the food spill and clean it up, rather than pretend it is not there.

Similarly, my purpose is not to offend readers who think, but whatever it is that those who are offended are doing, it is NOT thinking. Shame on them.

Richard said...

The Anonymous of June 2, 2009 7:54 PM seems to be different from "Anon".

Anon2 says, "I don't know if one can say with a certainty exactly what "Western Values" are these days."

In layman's terms Anon2 is quite right. However, in philosophy and history "Western' refers to the intellectual traditions initiated by the Greeks, particularly Aristotle's ideas, that were resurrected during the Enlightenment. It was those Western Values that ultimately led to the Declaration of Independence, the idea of inalienable individual rights, the abolition of slavery and the most powerful intellectual and economic nation ever to exist (regardless of its present failings).

Anon2 asks, "why wouldn't the perpetrator be approached FIRST about his behavior?" Because he certainly did not do it in front of me, so I could not know. She came to me about it.

Yes, I advised her "to shuck her ethnicity" because I fully understand that a focus on "ethnicity" IS racism: the thinking of Neanderthal minds.

Anon2 says, "And then she in turn became the bully, calling the Italian lad names, while as the instructor, you sanctioned this."

Whoa, Anon2. Stop jumping to unsupported conclusions. The boy quickly grasped that she was responding in kind, and BOTH knew it was wrong. It was not done during class, and the outcome was exactly what was needed. Both came to understand real racism from humor. They learned more in minutes than some people learn in a lifetime!

Worse, Anon2, the Italian boy was NOT showing affection, until after she laughingly put him in his place. You have misread the events I described. Your confusions continue: "having her tormentor now laugh at and with her is no happy ending" No he WAS laughing at her, but through her actions (prompted by the better understanding I had shown her) she got him to laugh WITH her. He came to respect her, exactly as you wish, and she remains grateful, now as an adult some fifteen years later.

A failing grade from a person who does not read with care, and who happily leaps to conclusions at odds with what he reads, is of no concern to me.

*****

Now can we get back on topic: racism, reverse racism and reflex racism are all racism. It is easy to reject racism, not that hard to reject reverse racism, but it is extremely difficult to reject reflex racism. Indeed, reflex racism is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. When a man shows resentment because he fears he will experience racism, he will be met with indifference or resentment too. He will then believe that what he has just experienced was... racism.

I am reminded of the classic story of the New Yorker who sat on his hands every time he visited his psychiatrist.

One day the shrink asked,
"Why do you always sit on your hands?"

His patient replied,
"Because it keeps the elephants away from me"

"But there aren't any elephants in New York!"

"See, it works!"

If a white man is afraid of being seen as racist, a grumpy black person might well confirm his fears, and cause him to respond grumpily. Similarly, that black man may assume that the grumpy response is because the white man dislikes blacks. Both are wrong, but both walk away from their interaction believing that some sort of racism had occurred, because they think in terms of their racial differences That is, by misinterpreting their actions they believe something that is no more valid than the psychiatric patient's belief about elephants.

One keeps 'elephants' away, the other causes them to appear. Both are foolish.

Anonymous said...

Deidre,

1. I guess a person could lie if they like. In a world where people are increasingly the product of two or more races, it does get difficult to tell. I could make a few suggestions for verification, but I don't think it's up to the public to come to a consensus. I think the people behind each individual scholarship need to decide it for themselves. it's their money, it should be their rules, and anyone who doesn't agree is welcome not to apply.

2. Because, historically, it's more difficult for black kids to afford college. Or even have the credentials to attend. Like E.A. said, a reason there are so few black people in publishing, is their families can't accord it in the way that upper middle class white families can.

I, personally, wouldn't care if there were one or two 'white only' scholarships out there any more than I care that are are 'black only' scholarships, 'Latino only' scholarships, 'Asian only' scholarships, scholarships for people majoring in subjects I would never take, scholarships for people with certain G.P.A.s and so on. I have no doubt that other people would cry racism, and I think a large reason for that is white people are the majority in this country, and, historically, have the greater advantage.

These things aren't segregated. They are exclusionary. There have to be some sort of qualifications if for no other reason than scholarship judges will lose their minds if the award is open to every graduating senior in America. Imagine the judging process then. The first year of college would be over before they got through all the entries.

I understand that you think the qualifications are racist, but the fact is that white people still have an advantage over every minority, and giving grants and scholarships to those minorities encourages university attendance. Which helps everyone.

3. Race is the culture that one is descended from. If one is of Japanese descent, they are Japanese/Asian. There may be people who take offense to the idea of race, but there are also people who delight in being their race and the heritage that comes with it. If someone doesn't, most forms offer an option to decline to state. If they don't think they are a certain race, they shouldn't want a scholarship designated for that race, anyway.

Interracial marriage is not as unremarkable as you make it seem. I have seen for myself rather less favorable reactions to such unions, and the children of these unions. We still have a long way to go on that.

Richard,

I am in the same boat as Jolie and Anon on June 2 at 4:35 at this point. It's getting tiresome reading totally ignorant yet arrogant arguments.

Also, since you delight in correcting others' grammar and telling people they've no right to be offended by linking to definitions, you really ought to learn the definition of 'proximity' and realize that 'close proximity' is redundant.

Very briefly, here are my counterpoints. But then I'm done both reading and responding to you. Unlike Deidre, you are not interested in discussion, but in puffed up, condescending, inflammatory, oblivious, RACIST remarks. When valid arguments are levelled, you ignore them and instead insult, not just the post, but the poster, twist words and facts, and try to appear superior. Such a person can not be reasoned with. I am certain you will have something rude to say, but I won't see it, so it doesn't matter.

1. It's stupid to suggest that people should be hurt by racism only because of race. Your idiotic take on my comments are insanely racist, and your meaning is entirely your own. I never said that.

People have feelings, and it's okay to feeling hurt when people are being hurtful, regardless of WHY they are being hurtful. Also, do not suggest that your interpretations are my thoughts. They aren't. I would never say anything that ridiculous and racist.

To be continued...

Anonymous said...

No one would tell a Holocaust survivor not to be upset when people brandish a Swastika. Blacks can be upset when people make threats - direct or otherwise - toward them because it IS upsetting. See my previous comment about ideals versus reality. Read it VERY closely. Use that brain you try to flaunt, and try to see through your racism to understand the point. And, for the love of all that is holy, DO NOT say that because I think it's reasonable to be hurt when discriminated against, that you understand my thinking. You CLEARLY don't. Don't put words in my mouth. Don't say what I mean because you are wrong. I say what I mean.

2. I'm offended by your tunnel vision, your suggestions that the N word means nothing, that Jolie can't decide if she's offended before consulting a dictionary (which you also should do), that I am racist, and 50 other ludicrous things you've said. I think I'm most offended that any person who tied to flaunt their intellectual superiority could be so much the opposite. But I know a great deal of what you say is invalid. That's what I mean.

One can be offended by the notion that others feel entitled to belittle, degrade, and otherwise make emotional or physical attacks on them, and still recognize that it's wrong and be unaccepting of the idea that they are inferior. It's pretty simple.

3. Still, reverse racism addresses a subtle, misguided racist aspect of confused anti-racists. The idea of reverse racism is no small thing, as it points to a certain confusion on racism, as does the notion of Reflex Racism. I suggest Anon think that through a bit. Yes, reverse racism IS racism, but reverse racism has an special context: its unwitting practitioners, deludedly, think they are correcting racism.

Then what is it when Blacks hate Hispanics, or Hispanics hate Asians? It's just plain racism. There are no subtle differences. It's all the same.

4. Were racism to become legally institutionalized (as it was in Nazi Germany) then active resistance is necessary.

Why fight? Race doesn't matter, ignore them and they'll go away, so why fight? I'd try to explain that ignoring the small things only opens the door to bigger things, but I think you're a lost cause in that respect. Once racism is legally institutionalized, it is TOO LATE. It needs to be stopped before then.

5. I have addressed that point in detail in an earlier comment at "E.g. 1".

I responded to that pointless example. You have yet to provide an alternative if simply waiting for a better job isn't an option.

6. If you think the CSK is wrong, then you must also think Latino media awards are wrong, and so forth. Therefore you must also think no culture has a right to celebrate itself. And that's just stupid. People should embrace their culture. It's a good and unique thing.

Also, if you disagree with how the CSK operates, then ignore it. That's the best way to handle race-based things, according to you.

To be continued...

Anonymous said...

By some philosophies today, even the thinking of a man is strictly delimited by a function of his race, or gender, or sexual proclivities. Such notions have to be purged, as intellectual frauds.

Yep. Like your philosophy that race doesn't matter except when marketing to people and considering who might have committed a particular crime.

Finally, the Anon who claimed you were hijacking the conversation is not me. Please try to verify the facts before shooting off on your holier-than-thou soapbox. Though, I will say that if three people have seen the flaws and ludicrousness in your arguments, you should engage in self-examination and see why that is.

Also, I am going to point out that besides your 'race should be selectively considered' argument, you are contradictory in your tirade against the Anon you thought was me. Race doesn't matter, but you jump to conclusions about the other Anon's race. Race isn't the focus, but you sure focus on Anon's race a lot, even going so far as to suggest he or she is a reflex racist or reverse racist.. Race doesn't matter, but you're all set with advice on how Anon should handle thoughts on a race that he or she may not even be. Race doesn't matter, except in certain circumstances, and that's according to YOUR earlier comments. Race doesn't matter, except when you say it does.

Jolie,

LOVE your comment. Hilarious and makes your point.

Anon on June 2 and 7:54,

I totally agree. The idea that racism will end if only the victims wised up is just... stupid. I'm positive that had those who participated in the civil rights movements just said it doesn't matter, let's ignore them, America would be in the same position now as they were then. It's the equivalent of saying that women should ignore sexism, or that homosexuals should ignore homophobia and products of it, like California's Prop 8. Ignoring it only ensures things will never change.

Anonymous said...

Hello Richard,

I'm Anon 4:35pm.

Gee, I'm not sure why you need to guess what my race or gender is in this discussion. Profile much?

And as you well know, when one is losing or frustrated in a debate, the easiest thing to do is use profanity or resort to name calling. You can go to the head of the class, as it is dubious honor for you sir.

Richard, you can dress up your rhetoric and theories in intellectual jargon all you want. When I unwrap the package, I see a poster who's eager to bombard others with his views on how other races should deal with racism.
Okay, I read your posts and read, and read, and read...and now I would like to get back to the subject at hand and not make this the Richard Reality Show on Race Relations Volume Infinity.
Simple request, but since we're all blessed with free will, I am enjoying you put your foot in your mouth deeper with each attempt to explain yourself. I love you man.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Anon- I wonder if the remarkableness or unremarkableness of interracial marriage depends on where you live? I live in the midwest, about an hour from a major city but in a fairly rural area. And the interacial couples are not an issue at all.

(Other than the comments about the fact that their kids look like super-models, but the dads all claim to have shotguns ready for highschool, so.... =) )

I've seen more problems with inter-economic-status marriage than interracial....but we live in an area that's blue-collar-aging-rustbelt, so it may make a difference?

You, personally, seem very hands-off about preferences in general (they can set whatever rules they want and reward whatever pool they want) and I respect that position.

However, I think from a PRACTICAL point of view, it could lead to major political issues and lawsuits, if only because race IS still a touchy subject! =(

I do think that definign race as 'hereditary culture' is somewhat problematic since culture and language are NOT genetic--they're a matter of socialization! So if you use a cultural definition, adoptees should be counted under their adopted family, not their birth family. Which is fine with me, if we're giving awards based on culture....

One thing I'm seeing here is that there's a broad range of opinions on what exactly racially based awards and scholarships are supposed to be honoring/fixing.

So maybe the answer is clearer mission statements explaining the purpose behind each particular program, so it's easier to decide if it's meeting it's goals?

Anyway, Anon-- thanks for your response... I'll have to think about this some more! =)

Richard said...

I just learned of a program that makes the same error as the CSKs, but is much more blatant.

The Posse program helps non-white students apply to, and pay for, universities that lack racial ‘diversity’. In practice, this refers to universities that “lack Blacks and Hispanics”, as opposed to Japanese, Koreans, Iraqis, Pakis, and Italians etc”.

For each University, a group of accepted Posse program students are introduced to one another. These ‘posse’ members are expected to offer and receive group support throughout their university years. Posse members are believed to have a better chance of graduating, because they are a group sharing similar racial qualities. Note the Kantian premise (mentioned in an earlier comment) in this view.

Does one’s understanding of calculus improve if one has access to people of the same skin color? (I suppose it might, if the racist student only collaborates with ‘his kind’.)

Posse says, in effect, “people of your race are so poor at learning that you need a ‘race support group’ to graduate. Without such a gang, you will just be another failing [i.e.] ‘Black’.”

This short video demonstrates the indirect messages of the program:
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2009/05/27/baldwin.class.of.2009.posse.cnn
From the video…
Founder, Deborah Bial says, "Our top institutions of higher education still have much too much of a homogeneous student body. Posse is helping them to diversify their student body."

If skin color or race does not matter, then why is student body 'diversity' an issue? Why is it necessary that posses be Black or Hispanic? Why is their no "Posse" for Koreans, Chinese, or Ukrainians or the Irish?? Does the Posse program presume skin color to be more important than race?

The clip says that over twenty years the Posse programme has awarded 2,650 scholars MORE THAN $265,000,000. That is more than a million dollars per student. I am afraid to ask why.

A normal four year college program costs about $35,000. So why is the cost per student in the Posse Program, nearly thirty times that of an ordinary student's education? If those are the real numbers then something is truly insane, not just the racism.

We are told 90% of the Posse students graduated. After the “whites need not apply” sign, kids were chosen because they were bright. There ought to be a 90% success rate, with or without a race-posse. What, then, did these students come away with?

The enthusiastic, almost fawning CNN reporter says Tiffany Schiffner did not just learn "leadership skills and self-confidence". Schiffner then explains that her studies,
"… you know, taught us a lot about .um. being .um. sensitive and .um. aware to diversity and multicultural issues; [it?] just really embraces the notion of support."

What wonderful, politically correct ‘stuff’. That same ‘stuff’ is widely encouraged among children in grade school! No one asks, what a million dollar University program should have taught her, nor asks how eloquently such a well-educated person should be able to explain it.

The Posse program is blatantly collectivist/tribalist. First, it selects award recipients by their race, and then it presumes that individuals in the favored races cannot succeed without being part of a prearranged gang/tribe/’family’. Apparently, individuals of those races cannot function by their own judgment.

I am quite sure everyone involved in this expensive, racist program is strongly opposed to racism, as are those working with the CSK award. Such is the ‘thinking’ of people who oppose racism without truly understanding what it is.

Jolie said...

You're using a definition of racism derived from Ayn Rand's writings?!

Ayn Rand CHANGED HER NAME so that it would sound more Anglo-American and less Russian-Jewish! And we're supposed to accept her definition of racism as the most enlightened? Give me a break!

Jolie said...

Okay, the problem I have with you using Rand's definition of racism is that you are taking the portion that says we shouldn't judge a person's innate capabilities and traits based on their racial (i.e. genetic) heritage, and you are extending it to say that people should ignore cultural heritage (their own and other people's) altogether--that where we come from has no importance. Culture is a lot more complicated than race. Race doesn't matter, but CULTURE DOES.

Richard said...

I agree that "close proximity" is redundant, but redundancy can also serve as emphasis.

I recognize that all comments here are extemporaneous.

That said, my use of "dear" was no error. What was interesting, which Anon1 missed, is that Jolie's objection to “dear” entails the same intellectual error being discussed in this thread. On a cultural scale it is minor, but it is committed by the same "my feelings are hurt/offended" feminism as occurs with reflex racism.

Jolie’s reaction is exactly equivalent to the woman who is offended when a man holds a door open for her. It never occurs to her that he also holds the door open for other men, as mature courtesy. Instead, she thinks “he must be holding the door because his chauvinism assumes I am some weak woman but, damn him, I am NOT!” To me, that reflects a disappointing aspect of a sorry character that first sees discrimination, where s/he should see appreciation and courtesy.

Richard said...

I cannot respond to every remark in Anon’s ‘fisking’, as it will be much too tedious for readers, for me, and b/c some of the errors are glaringly obvious. I stand by the things I have written, to which Anon objects. I hope readers will think farther than has Anon1, and I also want to be interesting to the best minds visiting EA's site.

Re: Anon1 —even the Holocaust survivor (Jewish or otherwise) may speak out strongly against Nazi *ideas* (& symbols), without hating all Germans. He can do so without expecting reparations, or other support, or favouritism, at the expense of Germans who were not involved or were not even alive at the time. To do otherwise IS bigotry.

Fortunately, many Holocaust survivors chose to abandon anything to do with the Holocaust, and moved to a place where they could just get on with their own lives. Yes, Anon1, the majority of them practiced what I am advocating, but you do not. When it comes to race, precious few people have learned from the Holocaust victims. Anon1, millions of “people of color” and not a few Whites, continue to practice the intellectual errors that constitute the same focus on race that was used by the Nazis, not by their victims. Now, only the targets have changed.

Therefore, YES, I am opposed to Latino Entertainment Awards, Black Entertainment Awards etc. etc. Watching them, and observing the shimmering self-righteous racism of their recurrently voiced, "We", disgusts me.

That kind of "We" is precisely how “Brown Shirt” Aryanism led to Naziism.
* It is the "We" by which the Russian Proletariat thought it was coming to power.
* It is the "We" repeated in China, in Cambodia, & in various African nations (I’ve already mentioned Rwanda).
* It is the "We" of the Japanese Shintos prior to WW2
* It is the "We" of the Crusaders heading to the Middle East.
* It is the "We" of many of today's Muslims.
* It is the “We” that every reflex racist unwittingly adopts.

All these shouts of "We" began in much the same way, and those who fall for it, inevitably find themselves, after a few decades, under the thumb of some dictator.
Those shouts of “We” have invariably led to violent deaths (including starvation) that number in the hundreds of millions, if not billions overall, of mostly innocent people.

THAT is why I am so passionately opposed to racism, in all its forms, be it straight up, reverse, or reflex in its manifestation. This is not arrogance, but it sure is certainty.

That same form of "We" is what Anon1 is defending, when someone’s feelings have been hurt by racism. At his level it is just about “feelings”, but if he promotes those feelings enough, Hell appears on Earth. His argument from “feelings” is a rationalization: "When a theory achieves nothing but the opposite of its alleged goals, yet its advocates remain undeterred, you may be certain that it is not a conviction or an “ideal,” but a rationalization."

Anonymous said...

Richard,

You do realize that use of the word
"Pakis" is also considered offensive. Your rants would be a heck of alot more effective if you respected the audience you wish to win over.

Anonymous said...

"To me, that reflects a disappointing aspect of a sorry character that first sees discrimination, where s/he should see appreciation and courtesy."

Good god man. Someone disagrees with you and you feel it's a defect in their character?

You've traveled down this path in several of your responses to other posters. I shudder to think what else you've got planned in your quest for domination.

Jolie said...

Richard, you're being presumptuous. I wasn't offended at being called "dear" because of my gender. I was offended because you don't know me, and you were being overly familiar.

One of the Anon commenters earlier said that you're making a lot of assumptions about what we think and feel, and our reasons, and you are getting it wrong. Please stop.

Richard said...

An Anon wrote, “Finally, the Anon who claimed you were hijacking the conversation is not me. Please try to verify the facts before shooting off on your holier-than-thou soapbox.

Wow!! How irrational is that? You “Anons” haven’t the courage to even institute a *temporary* identification, and then blame others for not considering every time and date, to be sure whomever they are addressing (if time and date provides that information, which it does not). THAT argument is massively stupid, and is seriously disingenuous (dishonest).

In fact, it says volumes about your thoughtlessness concerning racism: you belong with the very idiots who do not deserve a voice.

Whatever AnonX was saying in, “Race isn't the focus, but you sure focus on Anon's race a lot, even going so far as to suggest he or she is a reflex racist or reverse racist.

My consideration that he is a reflex or reverse racist is NOT an indication that I have any idea, or concern, with what race he may be!

I think it is VERY clear that my comments do not mean, in any way that I “focus on Anon's race a lot”. In fact, the claim is worse that stupid, it is dishonestly fatuous!

I am not surprised by this, because such racists do not think clearly and, not knowing how to think, readily move to irrationality.

More broadly, the above is an exact example of the irrationalism that sustains racism. It is, wicked.
Yes, I mean to say "wicked".

Anonymous said...

Richard,

What exactly are you hoping for here, since you've noted those who don't get you aren't on your level. Can you break it down in one sentence?

Anonymous said...

If "We" ignore racism, it won't make it go away.

If "We ignore Richard, he just might.

Let's try it and see!

;)

Anonymous said...

Deidre,

I think some of it is an issue with numbers. After I posted my comment (the one with the list of answers to your questions, in case you're not sure which Anon this is), I did some research on scholarships, minority scholarships, and white scholarships. I also looked into university statistics, picking some fairly well-known schools, and some less well-known but still known enough for me to know of them schools.

With the exception of historically black universities, there is a staggering majority of white students when compared to minorities. I'm sure this is not the case for EVERY non-historically-black school, but it seemed to be a trend. And, when I was looking through some scholarships, I saw a number of different requirements, including those based on financial need, and some intending to increase the representation of the underrepresented.

I think that could be why there are so many minority scholarships, and white scholarships are much, much harder to come by. Most campuses want diversity, they want to represent all races, not just from all over the country, but also from all over the world, which I think, it why even international scholarships are easier to find than scholarships exclusively for whites. Giving minorities scholarships is a way to encourage them to attend a university. It's certainly not fair, but I think it's a way to try to equalize the student population.

All that said, it still wouldn't bother me to see a 'whites only' scholarship. I would just hope that whoever structured it could defend it in a way that doesn't sound like a petulant child who thinks if the insert race here gets one, he or she wants one, too. If he or she can intelligently explain the necessity, and make it about financial need, I think that would minimize racism cries.

Anonymous said...

My consideration that he is a reflex or reverse racist is NOT an indication that I have any idea, or concern, with what race he may be!

You've made it clear that you think reflex racism is when victims of racism see themselves as inferior, and that reverse racism is when blacks are racist against white. You then went on to give advice on how that anon should think of themselves if they are, in fact black. You made an assumption about his or her race. The only idiot on this thread is you, so we can all make a rational conclusion on what you said.

As for you getting wrong which anon made which comment, it's up to you to at least make an effort to not assume you know who is who, given that there are a lot of anons commenting. Don't blame them for your presumptiousness.

As for whichever anon said that no one would expect a genocide survivor to not be upset when shown a Swastika, I agree. He or she didn't say that such survivors are given carte blanche to be racist. As I understand it, and the anon can correct me if I'm wrong, the point is that a Swastika is upsetting to someone who suffered under Hitler's regime, but being upset at it doesn't mean they think they deserved to be gassed.

Richard said...

Jolie, you raise a great point, especially in your second comment (June 3, 2009 12:22 PM).

Culture & race are two very different issues, even though cultures largely follow racial lines.

As I said in an earlier comment: Race cannot be changed, but Culture can be changed!

It is worth understanding that culture is the one truly optional issue. So, YES, “Race does not matter”, but wrongful culture does matter.

Cultures, as embraced by Multiculturalism, are presented as a matter of race, but tyey are not!

I insist that Americans disregard ALL cultures and ALL institutions that judge a man by his race! That abolishment must be complete; it cannot accommodate the “Anon1s” of the World. Doing so would be consistent with the ideas on which the U.S.A. was founded.

Richard said...

Joli, please consider that my non-sexist & non-'ageist' appreciation of you, via ‘dear’, must be quashed; it was not what you assumed.

Jolie, I come from another culture. That culture is not very different from the culture of N. America, but it does not accept PC 'spins' on language. Language/word-choice is not a function of my Culture so much as of my reason. Thus, your sensibility at that point *earned* my use of “dear”.

Anonymous said...

"That culture is not very different from the culture of N. America, but it does not accept PC 'spins' on language."

So Richard, I guess when the Prime Minister expressed his dismay at Prince Harry calling one of his army chums "Paki" and another a TH(for which Harry issued a public apology) that was a no spin zone huh?

Anon 4:35pm

Anonymous said...

Oops, I meant to add the link
on Prince Harry being assigned diveristy training by the army.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/feb/13/prince-harry-racist-comments

...Prince Harry has been ordered to attend an equality and diversity course after he was captured on video calling an army colleague "our little Paki friend".

And here's Gordon Brown's comment.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article5501490.ece

"...Gordon Brown today described as "unacceptable" the moment when Prince Harry zoomed his camcorder in on the face of a fellow Sandhurst cadet and mused: "Ah, our little Paki friend, Ahmed".

But the Prime Minister predicted that the British public would give the prince the benefit of the doubt over his use of racist language in the 2006 home video."


Anon 4:35pm

Richard said...

I have no idea what the two most recent Anon comments are trying to say. Does he think my idea of a "no spin zone" was Britain, & is trying to prove me wrong? Does he think his view is more valid because P.M. Gordon Brown accepts it? (That would be the Fallacy of the Argument from Authority.)


It seems Anon1 and perhaps others believe I consider racist language used in a racist manner to be perfectly acceptable, though I have said nothing to give that impression. It is crude, impolite, and unjust. Its use for the purpose of emotional injury, or for establishing some sort of rank is unacceptable and reveals a weakness in the speaker.

Of course, when the terminology of racism is being considered for intellectual reasons, such as the etymology of a term, there is no racism whatsoever. Yet, it was exactly that usage Anon1 used to accuse me of racism etc, and where he revealed that he is so focused on race that it clouds his judgment.

I have made it very clear that I am strongly opposed to racism, so if a reader were to think something I had written was racist, they should wonder why. Their first impression was probably not what the words were actually saying.

Anonymous said...

Richard,

I can’t speak for the other Anon, but I know I’m Anon 4:35 pm.
I posted about the uproar over Prince Harry. Whether you want to admit it or not, the racial slurs you continue to use are offensive to some. And I for one, did not want to maintain silence, lest it seemed I was condoning your usage, whether in your words "Of course, when the terminology of racism is being considered for intellectual reasons"
Sorry, but you could have still made your point without them. But I believe you already knew this.
Perhaps you truly believe by dressing it up under your own brand of intellectual tutorial philosophies on race matters it becomes less so, but I see a man throwing out racial terms much too casually, and then telling the reader they’re not superior enough to understand you’re only doing it to “teach” them how not to be sensitive. Many of your posts were quite thought provoking, but as you stated,“X doesn’t get it.” Richard, I’m afraid you don’t get it and I fear you never will. But, these things happen.
You have every right to believe how you wish to believe, and speak as you wish. However, when you get challenged on it, it’s never something you’ve done, such as the whole “dear” episode, it’s how the other party took it.
So let me just say:
Mulatto, as you referred to the US President Barack Obama is derived from several sources. The Spanish world mulo, which means mule. And some choose to refer to the Arabic term as its origin. Others in Latin America and even the US use it to denote bi-racial parentage.
Obama is a man of humor, who's refered to himself as a "mutt."
However, bi-racial or of white and African Parents would have sufficed in your post. Many Americans rarely use mulatto, so don't be suprised if you get challenged on this at some point in time.

Paki – Offensive because it has been used to slur anyone brown, whether they’re from Pakistan or not. Usually occupanied by another word in front, and there's enough on the internet if you don't believe me that it's considered offensive by some, if not many. I doubt if there would have been uproar over Prince Harry's remark had it not been.

The N word – Had you stated this to someone’s face, or on Twitter then more would have probably chimed in with why it’s considered offensive. Whether you use it in a rant or a rapper chooses to use it, you cannot change its history.

And if you look at my posts, I haven’t called you racist. That’s between you and your god. Good day to you sir, as I believe your goal is to have the last word and you're more than welcome to it.
My best to you.

Anon 4:35pm

Jimmer said...

Oh la la la la la la la la la la!

Anonymous said...

Richard,

Regarding the "Posse" program:$265,000,000/2,650 scholars = $100,000 per scholar, not $1,000,000, and the costs listed on the "normal four year college program costs" link you provided are for ONE year of college, not four.

Richard said...

Hi Anon 4:35.

You are right about my putting forth the offensive word, in this context.

You wrote, "Sorry, but you could have still made your point without them. But I believe you already knew this."

Yes, I did know it. What was important about my using it, was that the person who has a violent emotional reaction (however suppressed), allows himself to be trapped in the psychology of racism I am opposing. To that person, the N-term has some intrinsic capacity, to do harm to him, all on its own. He is the person who can most appreciate what I am arguing.

The most thought provoking of my comments is about how not to be personally hurt by words, as opposed to real “sticks and stones”. It is a terrible thing to allow oneself to be trapped by someone else’s words. You will experience considerable joy and personal peace if you free yourself of it.

I spoke of the N-word as having an “intrinsic capacity”. Intrinsic means "belonging to a thing by its very nature:" A word has no intrinsic anything, a word simply labels a certain concept or thought. All that matters is to grasp if the thinking is right or is wrong?

Some people get incensed by scatological & sexual gutter language. Yet, French Canadians are hardly bothered by such terms, reacting to them as if they were told they were "poopy heads", and a tongue was stuck out. They laugh or do not react at all. However, references to their (Catholic) religious icons can be extremely offensive. Only rarely do they say tabernak (tabernacle) or chalice (sounds like "Kah liss"), when they are really upset. One never ever speaks so crudely at the dinner table, or at any sort of formal meeting, yet you CAN say Shit or Fuck! They don't care.

Why?

Because of the mindset they hold about the words. NOT because the words have anything in and of themselves that can possibly cause a strong reaction.

Here are two other examples of the same thing, concerning words being seen as carrying some intrinsic, offensive capacity:

1) There was a time when "idiot" referred to someone born with noticeable mental limitations. It was a practical term. Then 'idiot' became insulting, and was used insultingly. "Retard" was introduced. Then retard became insulting, and "mentally challenged" appeared, and lately it has been "special". Some day “special” will come to mean “idiot”, and another term will be proposed.

2) Europeans used to call Natives “Savages”, &/or Indians, then Aboriginals, the First Peoples or First Nation People. The first three terms are now verboten.

To place such emotional attachment on the actual *words* is actually ridiculous. It is blatant racism, when a white man may not use the term "nigger" but a black man can! Now that is a form of reverse-reflex racism!!

Please note that by rearranging a few letters, I get nrgegir, which means absolutely nothing. It is NOT the word that is the problem, it is the mind(s) using it, and their reasons and motivation.

"Nigger" only does to you what you allow it to do.

If someone deliberately uses it to offend another, the BEST thing that potential victim can do is to NOT be a victim. The painful intention of the perpetrator finds no target!

What I am offering can be readily observed as being true, and the obvious conclusion certainly helped Sowmya. She found it brilliantly liberating. She no longer held the psychological associations whereby her mind converted certain words, from so many letters or phonemes, into exploding mind-grenades.

Imagine hearing or reading the most hateful language, perhaps about you, and to find that you, as was Somya, are marvelously untouched.

Richard said...

Imagine a man has, for years, been writing articles ridiculing YOUR architectural work. He never swears, he never uses terms like the N-word, but he harms you a lot more than such words can. You know he has cost you dozens of possible contracts, enormous sums of money, and years of your life. You have no means to "get back at him" without abandoning the career you want more than anything else (architectural design).

You'd love to shoot him, but then you would be on the run or in jail. Such a stupid action would have made your life even worse. SO, you resolve to NOT let him effect you. You work around him, you seek contracts with people who disagree with him, and you always do your best at the one thing you love.

Then one day you meet him. What do you do?

Unfortunately the full movie, from which the clip (linked to above )is taken, does not do the book or its ideas much justice. Years later Gary Cooper admitted that he had not understood his character and was only reciting the lines.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to brush off such direct personal attacks so readily? Yet millions of people get upset by a few letters or phonemes that are deliberately used to be racially or religiously derogatory. Maybe that is why aliens never stay on Earth ;-)

Jan said...

The weak and sorry excuse to use the word "nigger" over and over was one of the worst I've seen. Cloaking it in a cloud of pseudo-intellectualism doesn't change the reality that you did it (1) to be offensive and (2) becuase you could -- the "intellectual" approach was your way of saying you had permission as long as you say it over and over while sayimg some intellectual crap that everyone KNOWS anyway.

Of course a word is just a collection of letters until people ascribe meaning to it. There is no one so stupid as to think "Trintsup" -- the word verification term this round -- is offensive just because it has an "n" in it. A word becomes offensive because of how it is used.

Words that are used to devalue that which you hold dear become offensive because of the people speaking them and their intent...not the stupid collection of letters. It's human nature to take offense in the presence of evil and that kind of attack triggers our gag reflex for evil. We're actually supposed to react in the presence of something deeply wrong.

I find racist words offensive because they're use has been part of a process (which includes many other elements) of devaluing humans for the purpose of making the speaker feel superior, to give the speaker power by taking it from the listener. It's an in-your-face way of saying "I can say and do whatever I please because I'm in power and you can't do a thing about it."

Sure, I get that you've never been in the position of powerlessness. You don't know what it's like. You're one of those in power so you want to blame the victim so that you don't have to DO ANYTHING uncomfortable -- you laid the blame on the girl in your class because then you didn't have to do anything.

I might have bought it if you'd approached it as: Look, I could make him stop. "I could and I will if ultimately that's what you need me to do. BUT...there won't always be someone to make the racist jerks stop. Sometimes, you have to be the one who does something to protect yourself and one thing you can do is this..." The whole "he didn't do it in front of me so I couldn't speak to him" is crap. Clearly you didn't doubt it happened for a MOMENT. You could have approached him about it regardless.

But you didn't. You dumped the problem back on the victim. Sorry, you've got the problem by being offended. Get over it. If you don't like it -- give it back to him. You don't like being name called -- call names back. You don't like someone spray painting swastikas on your temple -- paint penis's on their church. You don't like drive by shootings -- shoot back. If it's the right plan, should work for all the times those who feel empowered attack the weak, right? It'll make all the racism go away. *Poof*

And the whole -- if you disagree with me, it's proof that I'm right and you're really the racist -- is intellectual dishonesty at a staggering level I've rarely seen.

Honestly, you're a serious piece of work. I'm sorry you'll never really understand. Sure, there are folks who are overly sensitive and too quick to react. They aren't proof that all racists should be ignored and they'll go away. I grew up in a region where racists were allowed to speak how they wanted and the listener just "ignored" it for generations. It didn't make racism go away, but it sure made the racists comfortable there.

Surprisingly, the racism began to go away when the victims STOPPED ignoring it and some of those im POWER stopped ignoring it too and started demanding the attacker change. But there's still PLENTY of racist talk there and I hope none of the victims slide back into just ignoring it because the past has a nasty way of taking over the present when you don't watch it.

Anonymous said...

Rich,

This is so not cool.
You're making it awfully hard for your publisher to sell your books because you're coming across with some warped, racially confused crazy arse shyte. I so agree with everyone opposed to your posts. You just wanted a venue to drop some race bait hate. Sucks to be you.

Richard said...

In case anyone remains, who believes Jan or Anon1 are saying anything at all valid, I have responded to what points I suspect are most worth straightening out.
*
Jan wrote, "I find racist words offensive because they're use has been part of a process (which includes many other elements) of devaluing humans for the purpose of making the speaker feel superior, to give the speaker power by taking it from the listener."

Was Jan that unable to grasp what I meant by this:
"If someone deliberately uses it to offend another, the BEST thing that potential victim can do is to NOT be a victim. The painful intention of the perpetrator finds no target!"

It makes exactly the point Jan makes, but instead of stopping at “offend” I address what is involved in defusing it (without repeating all the supporting arguments mentioned earlier). Apparently, Jan does not read effectively. That is inexcusable for a person coming from a site intended for writers, to a site intended for writers. Writers for writers should at least be able to grasp the thought a plain sentence presents.
*
Jan presumes I have never been in a position of powerlessness; not knowing a thing about me. In Reason, Jan has no basis for such presumption, and the truth is quite the opposite. I just chose not to wallow in it…
*
Responding to Sowmya’s problem, as Jan suggests, would only increase Sowmya’s dilemma. The boy would know she had come to me, and would use that fact against her. Nor would I use such a gossipy, 14 year old’s, approach. I was certainly NOT going to run to the boy and give him a lecture, as he was quite impervious to reason. Instead, I gave Sowmya what SHE needed to deal with every possible future instance of racism that she might face, over the course of her entire life. Jan, think about that italicized bit; it is what you and Anon1 seem least able to grasp. She understood it, at the age of fifteen.
*
I repeatedly distinguish between words and violence. Given that, Jan’s remark below demonstrates a blinding stroke of unreason, &/or illiteracy.

You don't like someone spray painting swastikas on your temple -- paint penis's on their church. You don't like drive by shootings -- shoot back. If it's the right plan, should work for all the times those who feel empowered attack the weak, right?
*
Jan argues that racism has been greatly reduced since the victims stopped ignoring it. I have already mentioned that the victims of physically violent acts of racism, and racist laws were well justified in speaking out and acting against them. Martin Luther King and others deserve our respect for taking it that far. However, the rest is not a matter of physical violence; it is a matter of language, and attitude, as I have been saying. On that level racism is little improved., particularly among the victims

The news and academic journals are still abuzz with Affirmative Actions (institutionalized bigotry) news:
1. Different college entry requirements for colored people,
2. Race ratios for various kinds of employers, and unions.
3. Presuming white people are racist because poorer homes, housing Blacks, are more readily flattened when a hurricane hits.
4. Arguments on how much non-slavers should repay non-slaves, etc.
The Jans and Anon1s of the world have not matured enough intellectually to see that their kind of racism is not dwindling, it has become fashionable!! Indeed, racism is fashionable all the way to the Supreme Court.
*
Even when their racist eyeglasses are pointed out, through examples anyone can see, Jan and Anon1 would rather shoot the messenger than grasp the message. When someone hates you or attacks you as Anon and Jan have been attacking me, it becomes an honor. It says, at least, I have not stooped to their blatant irrationality. Of course,that is what I have been saying from the start.

“Arse shyte”, Anon1?

Richard said...

I apologize for screwing up the numbers on the Posse program, nonetheless it in no way changes the point as to what that program is about... diversity quotas = institutionalized racism.

It quite amazes me that Anon1 and Jan cannot for a moment grasp that everything I have been discussing speaks directly to the Black conductor's disappointment that the Atlanta Orchestra had cheated him by adopting their race policy. They saw him as a skin color.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I think it's very possible to be racist and not KNOW you're being racist....

For instance, My sister lives in Manhattan. Gets her opinions from the New York Times. Would DIE if anyone called her 'racist.'

BUT...

When we first moved to our small town, we weren't neighborhood conscious. (We were coming from Chicago, and so the crime reports here looked like nothing...)

And we ended up next to a meth house where some of the residents may have been practicing prostitution as well, and where a lot of loud drunk guys were constantly coming or going. So I made the off-hand comment to my sister that I wouldn't let my kids play with the neighbor kids because of the drunk/drughouse thing.

She immediately launched into me for just being racist. After about 15 minutes, I managed to explain that the family next door was WHITE.

On the otherhand, my homeschool group, which she charactarizes as a bunch of "stuck up white people" is actually multi-racial. They're just people of all races who share similiar values when it comes to education.....

I wonder if editors and awards do the same type of thing.... they're trying NOT to be racist, but they're working from a very limited idea of what is 'authentic'.

(i.e., a series about a black, middle class homeschooling family with an engineer dad, a stay at home mom, a quizbowl winning brother and a ballerina sister (who also say, solve mysteries..) might not 'ring true,' even though that life IS true for some families...

so even though an editor is trying to seek out black authors, might it be that some unnoticed racism is keeping her from recognizing them?

After all, a children's writer is MUCH more likely to be the product of an educated family that values books and writing...

But if our idea of 'Authenticalluy black" is limited to ghettos and sharecroppers, we'll pass over them because they don't fit our ideas about what's 'authentic' for the race......

Sorry to ramble... was just thinking about this last night....

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lewis,

The only individual on here who hasn’t been able to grasp it is you.

You took the conductor’s statement and have used it to forward your own ideas on dealing with race and now expect everyone to follow your “word” as you spread it, probably from message board to message board.

Sorry, but the position of Jesus has already been filled.

I can’t imagine once you spill these deep thought of yours that you have many friends of any race because you’re in your own world, and the ones you do have probably go along to get along.

It’s chilling how in line your thoughts are with many of the separatists and those who advance theories on supremacy. What was really telling in your case, is how dismissive you were of the young lady who came to you for help, telling the poster who inquired that it was because you didn’t see it, in essence, blowing your student off, and then testing your theories on her young, impressionable mind. Fast forward some years later, and you're still using the kid as some kind of example that your "theories" work.

Then you crowed about “Western Values.” Yeesh...

All you did was turn her into your idea of how you'd best be able to tolerate her. Strip her of her cultural identity and act Western, that'll solve everything.

I notice how respectful you were labeling the races thought as white, yet as soon as you got to anyone considered of color, you were gleefully using broken English, throwing around known derogatory labels and then trying to dress it up in windbag jargon.

The CSK awards were created over thirty years ago, and there were probably more individuals who thought as you did back then. You actually make a better case for why the awards are still needed, hell…for that matter you make a better case for why there should be even more celebrating their culture, something you have made it quite clear as in one post you claim "disgusts" you.

Oh, and your statement, "I'm married to an Asian" isn't the same as being one. Though I'm pretty sure you've attempted to rid her of that, based on your posts.

Anonymous said...

One more thing that I got from your posts. No appreciation for other cultures -specifically those of color. Maybe that's why it's no big deal for you because you don't fully see them as living breathing people WITH FEELINGS.

The only way you can deal with them is if they become your creation and act according to how you believe they should -Westernized - and hey, should they run into a little thing like racism, no problem.
Just continue to act accordingly, yes, just piss on my head and tell me it's raining why don't you.

If this isn't how you wish to be portrayed then I apologize. But it seems to me your "theories" really need re-tooling, especially the obnoxious way you deliver them.

Richard said...

Awesome point Dierdre M. (We won't tell your sister you talked about her ;-)

Sis has a race-lens without realizing it. Regardless of your family's race, it seems your sister has learned —from the constant cultural barrage of concern with race— to find racism as a motivation for some action or wording.

That cultural barrage keeps racism alive today. It is not the same as the blatant redneck racists of 50+ years ago.

Eliminating this more subtle racism requires the completely different approach I am advocating. Thank-you, Dierdre, for putting it that way.

That mental race-lens has been drummed into children for the last thirty years, via the reverse racist actions I listed earlier.

One thing Anon1 said is right. Racism is racism, in any form. A common cliché says “knowing the problem is half the solution”. If individual minds do not acknowledge and understand the more subtle forms of racism, including reflex & reverse racism, then the correct problem will not be recognized. They certainly will not seek proper solutions.

Through a race-lens, Deirdre’s example could even be taken as the remarks of a racist… E.g., “What are you saying, Deirdre, that blacks are not well enough educated to write books that editors can appreciate.”
Or, “Is Deirdre accepting the idea that Orientals are smarter than Whites and Whites are smarter than Blacks?” Tell that to Colin Powell or Bill Cosby et al.

Those who think my arguments to be off-base (or racist) might like to see Bill Cosby’s “ Come on, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors". His take is similar to mine, but expressed in everyday language (E.g. "…from Victims to Victors"), with lots of concrete examples and solutions.

I have not fully read Cosby's book. Of what I have read, he makes a lot of sense. I do disagree with him on the role of religion. Although religion alerts one to moral concerns and to appreciating others, much too often religion offers the wrong reasons and the wrong morality.

Yes, some very, very racist Blacks refer to Cosby as an “Oreo”.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Also-- a quick note on 'culture'--

Things like "working hard, doing your best, being kind to others, respect for authority" are pretty much common to the successful people of ANY culture, not just the descendants of Europeans.

And things like not showing up to work, drinking away your food money, and rampant criminality tend to go with the LEAST successful members of any culture. (Remember, part of the Methodist emphasis on cleanliness and punctuality was an attempt to change the culture of the porr--who were ethnically identical to the middle class!)

I think a lot of what some people deride as 'Black Culture' in the innercities is actually DROP OUT culture. You have the kids of drop outs emulating their parents lives. We have that in rural areas too---same culture, but different ethnicities participating....

There are plenty of black kids from working class and poor homes who are brought up to work hard, pay attention, do their best, etc.

It's just noone notices them because "Young boy completes homework, is polite to teacher, and obeys his parents" is not as newsworthy as "12-year-old-druggie knocks over likker store. (sorry, can never remember proper spelling, and no spell check in comments, so might as well epically fail.)

So when people complain that 'Black culture' or 'Hispanic culture' or 'Irish culture' is the problem that holds people back, I think they're using a false origin for the problematic culture-- it's not racial or ethnic, it's what you get when a lot of people with bad habits are raising their kids to have the same bad habits, or when kids who have parents who expect good habits fall in with a lazy crowd.......

Once again, sorry to ramble... I have a sleeping baby in my lap, so I'm glued to my chair and you guys are suffering for it! =)

Deirdre Mundy said...

My point with my sister was actually that she, the dedicated 'non-racist' automatically assumed that any house of drug-dealers, drunks, and prostitutes must be populated exclusively with minorities......

So (as with my culture post) she's assuming that "Authentically black" means "gangbanger/dropout..."

So her attempts to address what she sees as a racial problem: "Evil midwestern hicks won't let their kids play with minorities" is actually, in itself racist!

And It's not that "blacks can't right kids books because they're uneducated."

It's that, overwhelmingly, the sort of people who write tend to come from a relatively privaledged background--you have to have a family that gave some value to literature, you have to have a job that ALSO allows you the free time to write, you have to have experience with words.

BUT if a black writer from a middle class background writes about the sort of black families SHE knows, it doesn't seem authentic to people who see black culture as "ghetto. Share cropper. foster kid."

Though, Richard, you mentioned Bill Cosby-- I wonder if people of my generation might be MORE open to breaking free of that stereotype, since our formational television experience with a black family was....The Cosby Show. So, at a young age, we saw "All-American Black family" as "Doctor married to Lawyer with nice kids, strict rules, totally functional and normal."

Deirdre Mundy said...

Arghm sorry for typos, btw... Baby is heavy!

Richard said...

Anon of June 5, 2009 10:25 AM,

Your position is really getting ridiculous.

Richard Lewis & Richard-me, are two different commenters. Perhaps now you can appreciate what it is for me to have to deal those who use "Anonymous", with no other means of responders to address the right person. Not to mention that most of your diatribe was simply imagining things about some figment you hold, and then ascribing them to Richard-me.

Most of your remarks about me are presumptive, arbitrary claptrap. I do not care about them.

Much more disturbing is that you really are an !!advocate!!of racism:
"No appreciation for other cultures -specifically those of color.
plus other remarks that were not quite so explicit.

Cultures do tend to follow racial lines, but cultures, regardless of the races involved can be horribly wrong.

Race is genetic, whereas culture is the sum of the choices and actions of the individuals (usually) within a region.

Disliking a culture, such as the that of Africans who prey on each other for slavery or simply for supremacy, is hardly a racist position against people with Black skin.

I also have no respect for the early cannibalistic Maori culture of New Zealand. I have no respect for a culture that worships its Sun God by tearing out the hearts of 15 year old virgins; or a culture that treats its women as little more than animals; or a culture that places people in castes, and gives cows more respect than the lower castes; or a culture that so eliminates an individual to respect his own life that he would rather drown in vodka, etc.

Read my paragraph on Western Values at June 3, 2009 1:15 AM.

It was Western Culture that freed slaves, and fought racism. It was the Europeans of England and the United States that did it. They did it before there were enough educated Blacks to have any sort of voice in the matter.

I am a proud advocate of Western Culture, with its focus on understanding This World, through Reason, and Individual Rights and self-responsibility. With it, and The Founders, I hold that this Life is for living happily and well (as opposed to being suffered through, in dim hope of an afterlife promised by some priest -or his intellectual equivalent- wearing robes fashioned a millennium ago).

No other Culture has worked so hard to render race irrelevant in human relationships and politics.

Slaves are still held and traded, with impunity, in Africa and the Middle East. Racism is still rampant in those regions; it abounds in Slavic regions such as Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovkia, Byelorussia; racism occurs in parts of China and is a huge problem on the Indian subcontinent.

Anon1's grasp of what racism and culture are is puerile. If he is an American he ought to be deeply, deeply ashamed.

America was a Melting Pot because its Constitution and Founding considered race irrelevant.

cont’d …

Richard said...

Modern multiculturalism has, by conflating race with culture, wiped out the notion of ignoring race AND seeks to erase the vastly superior cultural understanding upon which America was founded.

In spite of its tremendous decay over the last century, America is the one nation in the world WORTH resurrecting on its original principles. Too many Americans recite the Pledge of Allegiance without even grasping the chain of understanding to which it refers.

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

1— What is unique about the American Republic?
2— What does "Liberty", in a socio-political context, mean?
3— What is "Justice"?
4— Why an "indivisible" nation?
5— Is it just a flag, or is the Flag a distinct symbol for a deeper understanding behind those previous questions?

[In the sense of #5, The Flag is like a single Word standing for the extremely abstract, but well integrated, concepts that, together, create the United States of America.

Why did I leave out "under God"? Remember the "wall of separation between church and state? It was a notion which the Baptists of the 1700s were MOST passionate in preserving, because they understood the nature of that particular type of prejudicial tyranny.

As Ben Franklin put it, America “is a Republic, if you can keep it

Racism in all forms is INjustice. Everyone should remember that, every time they hear the Pledge of Allegiance. They must resolve, among other things, to never engage in the unexamined racism used by Anon1. If that sounds "superior" or "arrogant" of me, it is because the non-racist culture to which I subscribe IS superior, and it is American.

Read Bill Cosby's book, then read
1— "Vindicating the Founders",
2— "The Pursuit of Reason, the life of Thomas Jefferson",
3— "A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance: Portrait of an Age" and
4— "Ominous Parallels" to name a few.

Jolie said...

FINALLY! He shows his true colors.

Richard said...

Deirdre, your general point about culture is fair. Greeks had a culture peak based on the principles you list, then Arabs, then Romans, then British, then Americans, with parallels happening in China. The ‘road’ to true civilization is full of ruts and wrong turns. One of those wrong turns, that adhered along racist lines was indeed the Black Ghetto culture.

I like your idea of a Problematic Culture, and that is exactly what Bill Cosby is fighting. Many people probably do pin him to The Cosby Show… but that was Entertainment. In fact, it is that narrow, TV-character, view of him that he has to fight. [Carroll O’Connor played Archie Bunker in “All in the Family”, but had a fortuitous career opportunity to escape that racist stereotype by obtaining the role of Chief William O. 'Bill' Gillespie in "In the Heat of the Night".]

Cosby, the actual man, is even better than his Doctor character. He pursued that show in an effort to demonstrate what black men can do, without being pedantic. Unfortunately, it appears that blacks largely wrote that ideal off, as being a white man’s fantasy, rather seeing it as a worthwhile thing to pursue.

Congratulations on the baby!

Anonymous said...

Yes, you're right, RICHARD.

I humbly apologize to Mr. Richard Lewis, as I did mix up both Richard's. For that I am truly sorry. As I was reading all the posts, somehow I got that impression and it was erroneous and I thank you, Richard, for pointing it out. I would hope the blog admin deletes my post as I wish not to have his name attributed to my response to you.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Oh, he's not a new baby-- He's really more of a toddler... Hence the typing problems!

He just likes to be cuddled for his nap sometimes.

Anonymous said...

To RICHARD:

The only individual on here who hasn’t been able to grasp it is you.

You took the conductor’s statement and have used it to forward your own ideas on dealing with race and now expect everyone to follow your “word” as you spread it, probably from message board to message board.

Sorry, but the position of Jesus has already been filled.

I can’t imagine once you spill these deep thought of yours that you have many friends of any race because you’re in your own world, and the ones you do have probably go along to get along.

It’s chilling how in line your thoughts are with many of the separatists and those who advance theories on supremacy. What was really telling in your case, is how dismissive you were of the young lady who came to you for help, telling the poster who inquired that it was because you didn’t see it, in essence, blowing your student off, and then testing your theories on her young, impressionable mind. Fast forward some years later, and you're still using the kid as some kind of example that your "theories" work.

Then you crowed about “Western Values.” Yeesh...

All you did was turn her into your idea of how you'd best be able to tolerate her. Strip her of her cultural identity and act Western, that'll solve everything.

I notice how respectful you were labeling the races thought as white, yet as soon as you got to anyone considered of color, you were gleefully using broken English, throwing around known derogatory labels and then trying to dress it up in windbag jargon.

The CSK awards were created over thirty years ago, and there were probably more individuals who thought as you did back then. You actually make a better case for why the awards are still needed, hell…for that matter you make a better case for why there should be even more celebrating their culture, something you have made it quite clear as in one post you claim "disgusts" you.

Richard said...

Joli, I presume you have still not understood, and are saying my "true colors" are that I am the racist. If it were not for Dierdre, I would have given up entirely.

What I am opposing is standard University academic doctrine, particularly, but not only in the Arts programs.

Students raised through today's Public Education system are taught to accept the racially ‘sensitive’ doctrines of the curriculum, AND are told that rote acceptance (via pity and similar ‘feelings’’) constitutes Reason.

I am even more passionately opposed to that kind of education than I am opposed to racism. Without a correction to the former, there will continue to be people demanding that racism be used to combat racism. In simple English, they insist that a second wrong can right the first. You’ve heard that before, usually as “Two wrongs don’t make a right”. The catch is that I am exposing the actual thought that allows that second wrong to be perceived as legitimate/fair.

Public Education and University Education fully accept that irrationality. The result is young people who are educated by ‘experts’ who make that kind of error, are intellectually worse off than those who quit early and get into their own business. The latter see the world for what it is, and learn much better lessons.

Go back to the top and start again. Read the books I suggest. Really, think through the examples I have provided, albeit with only so much detail. No, the view I am proposing is not easy to grasp. I was twice your age when I started to see it. Now I am three times your age, and though I have never ceased questioning the understanding I am promoting, I have never had a reason to back away. That holds here, amongst all the childish insults, dishonest misconstruals, and unjustified resentment, no one here has begun to offer an argument that actually challenges my position. In no way does my position harm a soul, whereas every argument opposing mine does, if only by continuing to allow non-whites to feel oppressed and whites to ‘feel’ they are oppressors. This is especially obvious in areas of the world where racism occurs and there are no whites in sight.

Richard said...

I a not going to respond to Anon1's latest comment, as it is several thousand words that comprise no argument.

Note that Anon1 has not even explained how his own remarks could possibly be construed as non-racist. Ranting and insulting other people just cannot change it.

As I said, I am more opposed to such irrationality than to racism, because the latter is spawned by the former.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Oh, BTW--thought of a better example (non-fiction) of my point about culture--

Michelle Obama. She grew up in a blue-collar family, where her parents valued hard work and education. She wasn't 'overcoming black culture'--her family is PART of black culture, and their values and work ethic sent her to Princeton and Law School.

Now, if her kids write an account of THEIR pre-presidential family life, it would involve private schools, nice restaurants, trips to museums, summer camps and music lessons. But that doesn't change their culture! What sets them apart from a kid in the ghetto is basically their parent's education, and their family's income.

It's not that culture doesn't matter, but that so much of what we consider 'bad culture' is actually just extreme poverty... but unfortunately there's also a feedback loop.

The thing is, I'm not sure how scholarships and awards can help the kids stuck in the loop, the ones who tune out at 8, drop out a 16, and figure that that's 'just who they are.......'

So, I guess (and this is the last post, I promise, cause the kids are up now and I need to WORK) my biggest problems with most scholarships and awards aimed at the 'underprivaledged', is that they're too little, too late to help the ones who really need it... we're pretty much just giving extra bonuses to the ones who have ALREADY succeeded.

And an award like CSK may be an example of racist non-racists simply by so narrowly defining what constitues the "american black experience."

Anonymous said...

Jolie,

You are so right.

Richard,

I posted it again because I had the wrong poster the first time.

I still believe what I have to say to you is valid, and it is my opinion, especially after your last few posts. I guess I don't have those good old Western Values you have. If I'm wrong, I say I'm sorry and take full responsibility for my own actions.

To me, Western Values include contributions from ALL, and not just the ones you cherrypick as being worthy enough.

Jolie said...

Richard, I've been paying attention (it's like a damn train wreck), and I DO understand what you're saying. I can see now that you are not. I'm saying your true colors are those of bigotry--not racism, because it's clear that genes and skin color aren't your real concern, but you demonstrate a bigoted supremacist attitude of another kind.

You think Western culture and ideals, which in practice have caused and still do cause so much suffering to people in the USA and abroad, is the height of enlightenment in the world today. You think the American founding fathers gave us the tools for an enlightened national life--even though it's clear the US Constitution and other early American writings have not been enough to guide its people to treat each other humanely. You ignore the massive flaws in Western culture and focus on the flaws of other cultures, while ignoring their valuable, beautiful contributions to the world. You fear that multiculturalism in America--which is about diversification and equality, not about erasing what is already the dominant culture--is a threat to you, and so you respond in kind by advocating the erasure of minority cultures. You are a bigot.

Yes, you're older and more experienced than me, you've read more than I have, and despite your intelligence it seems the result is that your mind is closed.

I and others have already tried to explain to you how wrong and harmful your opinions are. If you still don't consider your views sufficiently challenged, I'm ready to give up this argument. You will never consider yourself in error on any point.

Jolie said...

First paragraph of last comment, I meant to say to Richard: "I can see now that you are not a racist, per se."

Richard said...

Deirdre,
(And Joli, please note:)

So was M.Obama growing up in Black Culture, or in American Culture. I suggest she succeeded by the latter, but remains influenced by the former. Of course, it is perfectly reasonable to people everywhere to be influenced by more than one culture.

I can't fully agree that *level* of education and parental income explain much in this discussion. Everywhere there are lots of poor, even uneducated, people of all sorts of races excel in life, because they learn that one's own hard work and careful thinking is most important. They grasped it better not to follow the crowd (or gang, or race, or other groups such as hippies, Brown Shirts, Red Scarfs etc) and knew to pursue their own vision. How ever would any 'culture' even develop if it were not for those people? Everyone would still be living in caves.

Poverty on a large scale, is a consequence of ideas... which is also one of Bill Cosby's points. There are plenty of families that in Irish factory row houses, in Black Ghettoes and in Indian slums, where one child worked hard and intelligently, and struggled his/her way into a higher standard of life, whilst a brother or sister went the other way.

Deb said...

Jolie says:

>>You think Western culture and ideals, which in practice have caused and still do cause so much suffering to people in the USA and abroad, is the height of enlightenment in the world today. You think the American founding fathers gave us the tools for an enlightened national life--even though it's clear the US Constitution and other early American writings have not been enough to guide its people to treat each other humanely.<<

Jolie, it sounds as though you have some insight into some other region of the world, some other culture, that has allowed more freedom, more ability for self-determination regardless of one's sex or ethnicity or religion, a better climate for an individual to achieve as much as she can, greater prosperity for both the group and the individual...

Please share! Where is this? I need to raise my two daughters THERE! Especially if such a place encourages me--as the U.S. does--to take the best aspects of each culture and decide that's how *I'm* going to live. As far as I've been able to research, the only culture in human history to encourage, and in fact thrive on, such freedom is *Western* culture, and places that have adopted aspects of these values. But you sound like you know more about this, so please, enlighten us!

Jolie said...

Deb, I'm not saying there's someplace better than the US in terms of living conditions (although the US still has a LONG way to go before I'm really satisfied with it). It has many strengths that make me glad I live here.

However, I'm disturbed by Richard's tendency to put Western culture on a pedestal, as though it doesn't still leave room for people to oppress each other. I'm also appalled by his apparent disrespect for non-Western cultures, which have their strengths as well, and whose emigrants to the US contribute positively to American culture. I don't think people immigrate to the US so that they can totally assimilate and leave their own heritage behind. I think they're here to take advantage of what America has to offer, without an obligation to adopt traditional Western identities. They can be American while holding on to aspects of their non-Western cultural heritage. You're right that the US allows people to "take the best aspects of each culture" and live by them. That's what I like about it, too.

I believe in a lot of things about the US as it was founded ... but I think that without the multiculturalism we have today, we would be too limited.

Anonymous said...

-It was Western Culture that freed slaves, and fought racism. It was the Europeans of England and the United States that did it. They did it before there were enough educated Blacks to have any sort of voice in the matter. -


Forgive me, but your statement makes it seem as though Europeans and whites in US fought racism without the aid of those who experienced it, and that isn't so.
I'm not sure where you're getting your history for this statement, namely, the -- not enough educated Blacks part.

While I don’t expect you to know American history as it pertains to African American’s, I would at least hope you’d give them some credit for helping shape America. Many fought and spoke out during the American Revolution as well as the Civil War and subsequent wars. Freedom was a collaborative effort my friend.

Deb said...

>>Forgive me, but your statement makes it seem as though Europeans and whites in US fought racism without the aid of those who experienced it, and that isn't so.
I'm not sure where you're getting your history for this statement, namely, the -- not enough educated Blacks part.<<

Everyone should read Frederick Douglass on exactly this point. If he's not an authority, no one is.

Educating slaves was illegal. Only the tiniest fraction were educated before the Civil War.

Liberating slaves was illegal. Only the tiniest fraction attempted escape.

We must give credit to the moral and physical courage of non-slaves (regardless of race, although the vast majority were white) who fought to free their brothers and sisters from bondage. Frederick Douglass does.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Richard--if I may pass on a funj tidbit that may blow your mind---

Often when pundits talk about toxic aspects of African American culture, they're referring to things like drug use, welfare dependence, illegitamacy, and gang warfare.

The historian/Social Scientist Thomas Sowell points out that these are NOT features of black culture before a certain time-period. However, there WAS a group in America that had ALL these problems from time immemorial-- the Scotch Irish.

His theory is that when they became sharecroppers, poor blacks were forced to live near the scotch irish and their sons picked up the same bad culture...

So the more troublesome aspects of innercity culture may be a result of too much exposure to the WRONG type of Western culture!

(See our earlier discussion of Appalachia, where this toxic xulture still thrives....)


Word Verify-- Verve! Awesome!

Anonymous said...

Deirdre,

I think the opposite holds true as well. In many books, you won't find much representation of "white trash" or the "white equivalent" of what is stereotypically "authentically black." If the majority of published books were an accurate representation of real life across America, there would be a variety of works feature an array of different economic classes for every ethnicity. I'm not saying that there are NO books that feature underprivileged white people, just that they are much, much more difficult to come by.

The thing is, I'm not sure how scholarships and awards can help the kids stuck in the loop, the ones who tune out at 8, drop out a 16, and figure that that's 'just who they are.......'

Because there are some who break free of that loop. There are some who work damn hard to graduate and better their situation. There are some whose parents are drop-outs and don't want that for their kids, so they also work hard to give their kids a better life. And there are some who are the first in their families to go on to higher education.

Richard,

I meant it when I said that my last reply to you was my final one. I haven't read or responded to any of your comments since the last one I made that mentioned you on June 3 at 4:13. But, in skimming through your verbose replies to get to ones worth reading and responding to, I see you have attributed the entirety of the disdain (a feeling of contempt for anything regarded as unworthy; haughty contempt; scorn) directed at you to me. Be assured, I am not the only person who has disdain for you. And, please stop being so condescending. At the very least, we can all understand the words you use and we don't need you to add definitions. No one here is stupid.

I would appreciate it if you would stop ascribing (to credit or assign, as to a cause or source; attribute) every anonymous comment to me. I am truly beyond bothering to engage in any further discussion with you. Besides, I think everyone else (Jolie, Jan and all the other Anons) are doing a fine job. I said all racism is the same, but I didn't say arse shyte and whatever else you keep saying I did.

If you want to reply to something an Anon has said, just mention what it is they said. At least then you won't be identifying the wrong person.

And, just so you know, making a sanctimonious (making a hypocritical show of righteousness) post about how you're not going to respond to something, like you did with one of the anons, is the equivalent of responding. Especially when you go on to argue with the post, even if it is briefly.

The addition of definitions was deliberate, to make my point about condescension.

And, to the Anon who interpreted my comment on Holocaust victims. Yes, that's exactly what I meant. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Anon at 10:50. If people don't know the definition of a word, there's always the dictionary. It's arrogant to just assume the people posting here won't know the words.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Anon 10:50-- Then I guess what I'd like to see for scholarships/internships and whatnot is a heavy emphasis on background and biography.

That way you could make sure they were going to the kids who worked hard and overcame great odds, as opposed to the child of two doctors who went to prep schools, had tutors, etc.

Probably there's a range of how effective scholarship programs are at doing this--there are probably some AMAZING ones and some that need work...

You're right about poor whites in fiction, too.... And when there IS a story about a white girl who's poor, it often seems to be told through a romatic lense...almost in a 'how quaint' sense.

I do think part of the problem is that most poor kids I know don't want to read stories about how miserable poverty is---they want spies and pirates, dragons and wizards, romance and adventure just like any other kid....

So to me, the big problem is not that white poverty is underportrayed in kidlit, it's that black poverty is OVER=portrayed, and I imagine that most kids in the projects don't want to read yet ANOTHER story about how life in the projects sucks.

So, back to my complaint that CSK doesn't really encourage books that black KIDS will want to read. But,as EA has discussed before, that's a problem with MOST of the ALA-based awards...

Could there be(is there?) an "African-American Kids Choice Award" or something similar? That might actually HELP the situation, by encouraging the kind of books kids actually want to read.

My fave is still Hamilton's Justice Cycle, though. Excellent Scif AND a middle-class black protragonist. Can anyone think of other kids books that break the civil rights/projects/sharecropper mold? (My teacher-friends could really use the help, if you can think of any.)

Anonymous said...

Deb,

-We must give credit to the moral and physical courage of non-slaves (regardless of race, although the vast majority were white) who fought to free their brothers and sisters from bondage. Frederick Douglass does.-

Totally agree. But may I add, many are unaware that the first man to be killed in the Revolutionary war, a runaway slave was Crispus Attucks. Cripus was not, by all accounts a learned man. But one does not need education to recognize tyranny. Although Cripus was not free, as many of those of color who fought with Americans to free the colonies from the British, often the contributions of other cultures are overlooked in history books. I bring up Crispus as an example of someone who fought for the ideas and principals of America, though he was still being hunted as a runaway slave.

This is what I was hoping to get the poster who gave the original statement to understand, as he made mention of western values, yet diminished other cultures such as Maori. Every culture has a past that they are not proud of. But to dismiss indigenous people of a country, when many helped early settlers survive, is just plan wrong in my view. We should celebrate all, and perhaps this is a naive view on my part, but my faith in God leads me to this conclusion.

If I can use the current war in Iraq as an example, right now Americans know the lives of soldiers from all racial groups and ethnicities are being lost.
But also Iraqi men and women and children who are assisting US soldiers, people who live by the Koran and are not terrorists.
Though they may not be Westernized in a formal sense, many are hard working, intelligent, caring and want the same things for their families that all those of good will want. Thankfully, learning more about the region and the people, will help dispell stereotypes.
I wish not to get into a political debate here about whether the war is justified or not. I only bring this us to show that in any revolution or act to change things, the common man, the unsung hero sheds blood also, and may not be reflected once history is recorded. That may be part of the reason the CSK awards still exist in the form that they do, I cannot say for certain. But contributions of a people tend to get lost, depending on who is recording and telling the story. If I have not explained myself properly, I am sorry and I wish not to offend anyone.

Richard said...

So Anon of June 5, 2009 10:58 PM admits he has been playing the dishonest charade of failing to identify himself, even by a pseudo-moniker, and then goes on to blame me for the confusion caused by a bunch of Anons playing a similar card, here.

Then, one Anon "blames the victim" for their charade. You should be terribly ashamed of yourself.

No wonder these people accuse me of arrogance, etc., rather than actually deal with the ideas. These "snakes in the grass" have to rely on ad hominem attacks against those with whom they can't agree or understand (which rather matches the behavior of racists). They can, thereby, avoid actually having to deal with the ideas.

but it gets worse...

Richard said...

Anonymous at June 5, 2009 10:50 PM wrote,

"...making a sanctimonious (making a hypocritical show of righteousness) post about how you're not going to respond to something, like you did with one of the anons, is the equivalent of responding."

On 'refusal to respond: Some Anon already made that same claim about my comments, but neither I nor anyone else reacted to it the way this Anon did. I was more interested in the ideas than in ad hominem lynching.

I thought that definition of "sanctimonious" was just in case I had a different connotation in mind, or for other readers who might need a definition. I was not so lacking in self esteem that I had to reprimand someone for offering me something I did not need, exactly as this Anon proceeded to do: "The addition of definitions was deliberate, to make my point about condescension."

Wow, then another [rolls eyes] 'Anon', June 5, 2009 10:58 PM, chimes in, in support of this gutter nonsense, as if it had intellectual merit!!
"Good point, Anon at 10:50. If people don't know the definition of a word, there's always the dictionary. It's arrogant to just assume the people posting here won't know the words. "

No thoughts of the kind I went through over "sanctimonious". No consideration that the term "intrinsic", as I intended it was more specific than other definitions available at a dictionary. Just instant emotional reaction and thoughtlessness.

All the above is consistent with the entire argument I been making on the psychology of reflex racism. The anger/resentment psychology is the same principle. This is not intellectual, and certainly not independence. People with this psychology see others, and others' arguments through distorted lenses of their own choosing. Those sharing the same lenses eagerly join in the lynching. These people will see condescension where there is none. Whether the condescension is real or imagined, they are so unsure of themselves they must immediately react to the perceived condescension rather than the greater issue at stake, let alone introspect to consider whether it is justified or is nonsense.

That introspection was what Sowmya learned to do. If a racist attack at her was legit, she will, for the rest of her life, not be hurt and will not so blindly as the above Anons. She will know that she is a human being of better character than the racist, that her color does not define her (even as she enjoys her Indian food, clothes, stories etc.

(Joli, and all the rest who *assumed* my arguments mean utter elimination of cultural differences, please note that. Your assumptions are the same faulty reasoning as mentioned in the previous comment.)

Sowmya learned at 15 yrs of age, what a number of adults here seem unable or unwilling to grasp: "sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me".

"Sticks and stones" refer to physical violence, or its threat (including laws, which are enforce by threat). "Words", such as those that communicate real or perceived condescension, arrogance, or differing opinions etc. only harm those willing to be so harmed.

One may choose to speak out against verbal racism, but one is not obligated to.

Someone (above) assumed, by this same faulty reasoning, that I was advocating completely ignoring racists, to let them continue. They presumed I never spoke to the boy involved in the Sowmya incident.

Of course I did, but not until Sowmya understood and showed the capability of acting (psychologically) on what she had learned. If the boy did not get it, SHE was safe from him!!

Fortunately, with her as an example, the Italian boy saw the change, and with a little explanation completely understood.

If a quarter of Americans (regardless of color), especially in the media, openly stood for genuine color-blindness at the psychological level, racism would really begin to end.

Anonymous said...

Richard,

On June 5th 1:11 am you stated:

*Nor would I use such a gossipy, 14year old’s, approach. I was certainly NOT going to run to the boy and give him a lecture, as he was quite impervious to reason.

Now you state:

*They presumed I never spoke to the boy involved in the Sowmya incident.
Of course I did, but not until Sowmya understood and showed the capability of acting (psychologically) on what she had learned.

All throughout your retelling of this episode, you’ve stated how you went to work changing the young female student’s mind, yet it wasn’t until you got challenged about what you did or didn’t do to the perpetrator that your story changes.

Now, I can give you the benefit of the doubt and say it’s possible the Italian kid’s part in all this was not what you focused on, and that’s why you omitted it. But he was/is a very important piece to all this, because he started it, and as far as you know, he continues to this day having really never been challenged on WHY. You state he suddenly grasped the error of his ways after the female student took your advice. I say that’s a Hollywood ending, akin to a murderer confessing on the witness stand. It’s your own words that caused your story to be murky. But it’s your story, so revise all your want.

Richard said...

Replying to question by Anonymous at June 6, 2009 4:55 PM.

You are absolutely right, I WAS focusing on Sowmya's side of the story, because the Italian boy's situation was much more standard racism. It was not relevant to the point I was trying to make... and thank-you very much for recognizing that possibility. In fact, Sowmya's light hearted retaliation to his remarks was noticed by her class.

Instead of her being hurt, they saw her gaily and confidently engaging his remarks more in the way friends tease each other (often with very politically incorrect remarks), with both sides knowing that their remarks are absurd. That is, it is fun because it actually ridicules racist minds who take the content of such remarks seriously.

This lead to a brief class discussion of what Sowmya understood. Not only did the Italian boy come to understand, but so did the entire class. There were a number of questions, some of which Sowmya was able to successfully field.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, but I thought you said it didn't happen in class, as in your post of June 3rd 1:15am:

*Anon2 says, "And then she in turn became the bully, calling the Italian lad names, while as the instructor, you sanctioned this."

Whoa, Anon2. Stop jumping to unsupported conclusions. The boy quickly grasped that she was responding in kind, and BOTH knew it was wrong. It was not done during class, and the outcome was exactly what was needed. Both came to understand real racism from humor. They learned more in minutes than some people learn in a lifetime!


Also, one other question, you state in your older posts you alluded to her being from Pakistan. Now in a recent post you say;

*that her color does not define her (even as she enjoys her Indian food, clothes, stories etc.

Is she from India or Pakistan?

Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

Richard,

1. Since the second comment, Anons have populated this thread. You screwed up one by claiming one Anon said something another did. You should have known then to be more careful. Besides, that Anon and at least one other have said they are ignoring you. Identifying which comment you replied to would have stopped you looking moronic. All you had to do was acknowledge that you messed up again and move on. It's called taking the high road.

2. I can't speak for Anon 10:50, but the being-annoyed-by-definitions doesn't appear to be a self-esteem issue. It seems just like the same annoyance that met you twisting everyone's words, saying people weren't intelligent, and so on. You've defined several words, as if no one on this thread understands them. You do things like link to grammar sites or whatever that link was, while making errors yourself. That's condescension.

3. You've said the teasing didn't take place in your class. Then you've said that the entire class watched your student interact with the boy, and there was a class discussion on it. The two are mutually exclusive.

4. People have tried to discuss with you. If they don't agree with you, you call them racist and put words in their mouths. It's no wonder some have stopped trying. You're beyond hope.

5. You've said if it wasn't for Diedre, you would have given up. Well, take a look at how she disagrees with people, and how willing they are to keep discussing with her. How she does it is how it's done in polite circles.

Anonymous said...

Deirdre,

You're right about poor kids not wanting to read about poor kids. I meant that this biased sort of literature feeds into the misconceptions about America and its class and economic structure.

I really like your idea about requirements for scholarships, but there's still a numbers issue. Given that white people are the majority in this country, it's possible that they will have an uncomfortable margin on minorities applying for the same scholarships. And with universities wanting diverse campuses, if the majority of students getting scholarships are white, it seems in conflict with that goal. I know this is the very thing you're objecting to, but I'd suggest a scholarship for whites in that situation, and a separate one for minorities in that situation, just to increase their odds.

Also, I think scholarships based on financial need are a must. Even kids from rich families will need help if their parents, for whatever reason (i.e., not approving of their kids' choice of school, major, lifestyle and so on) refuse to pay for them.

Good point to the Anon above. I ignored Richard's comment, so I don't know (or care) what he said, but I agree with your second point. That's exactly what I meant; he's just incredibly condescending.

Anonymous said...

Well, just so you know Richard, I came late to this whole thing and I’m the Anon asking about your story. I’ve got yet another question;

You said on May 30th, 3:35PM
*The young man was not really so racist after-all, he had just found her weak spot. It became obvious after only a week or two, that he began to admire her.


Then today you say:
*I WAS focusing on Sowmya's side of the story, because the Italian boy's situation was much more standard racism.

Not so racist kid whose situation was more standard racist. Interesting.


Also today you state
*That introspection was what Sowmya learned to do. If a racist attack at her was legit, she will, for the rest of her life, not be hurt and will not so blindly as the above Anons.

Now this definitely sounds like a Hollywood ending. People walking off into the sunset, holding hands, it just doesn’t add up. People get hurt all the time. Even you professed to your feelings when someone used the word sanctimonious, and you’re the author of the stuff you used on the female student. So how can you say with a certainty that “she will, for the rest of her life, not be hurt”

Listen, you had me with your story until parts of it didn’t add up. And I’m going by your own words. But you’ve now changed so much of what you originally said, the rest is suspect. I’m not trying to jump on you here, lots of times to add credibility to what they say, people use real life stories all the time. But I’ve got to add my vote to the ones who said you should have dealt with the male first, as you say the “not so racist/standard racist situation.”

No telling who his targets had been previously or years later.

There was another part you said about not seeing it happen and so you didn’t go talk to the boy about it. So maybe you had your doubts that it even happened. But when he started in on her again, but in your presence, then you had to realize she was telling you the truth. That’s just another part of your story that made me go huh?

This post is getting too long so I’ll stop for now.

Richard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard said...

Re: Anonymous at June 6, 2009 6:07 PM

Why does s/he think these details matter? None of them changes the issue at stake…, the psychology of racism.

Anon, the boy teased Sowmya between classes. She would arrive at my class in an obvious 'mood'. Eventually she talked to me alone, in my classroom, while other kids were at lunch. (Yes, the room door was open, you small minds who think that way. And yes, such minds abound.)

The next time their schedules brought them together on the way to my class, the boy resumed his teasing. Remember this is between classes. After I spoke with her, she felt safe enough (with me) to continue returning retorts even as they came into the classroom.

The Anon who said I was sanctioning her as a bully, was more interested in attacking me than in considering what was occurring — that she was meeting the boy on equal terms instead of as racist vs victim, and with humor, not resentment, anger, or pain. Humor, done properly, ridicules that which is unreal, or wrong. As such, what was once intended to produce pain, was being highlighted for its absurdity!

What an improvement! She was making his racist remarks absurd. Best of all, she was doing it by example, instead of by some sorry guilt ridden, teary, intervention. Better yet, he followed her lead. In that manner, their exchange was becoming an even match of wit, rather than of bullying, (N.B. their physical differences were enormous: she was about 5'6" & 100 lbs, to his 5'10" & 175 lbs). The wittier her retorts became, the more their interaction became harmless repartee. I repeat, “Humor, done properly, ridicules that which is unreal, or wrong”. As I said elsewhere, this led to a full class discussion concerning racism, which most of the 28 grade eleven students understood.

On Sowmya’s origins, I think she was from northern India, New Delhi area I believe. Her parents were practising Hindus. The boy was teasing her as being a "Paki". Whether she was of Pakistani or Indian nationality, culture, or descent does nothing to change the Psychology of Reflex Racism that she suffered under, & was initially able to rise above.

Some people here have angrily refused to consider that psychology. Of course! It challenges their beliefs. They have an emotional stake in finding it to be false. If it means they too are racist, then they believe they are their own worst enemy —who wants that? If they succeed in banishing the logic I present, their justifications for (racist) belief in race-favoritism remains intact. But, they have to use reason and logic, not ad hominem, not rationalization and not Arguments from non-Essentials.

Given the nature of the questions asked by Anonymous (as above, June 6, 2009 6:07 PM), s/he appears to be seeking to find fault with the fundamental principle I have raised by finding non-essential flaws in my brief explanations of examples. That approach seems civil, but it is not productive, and is no better than ad hominem or rationalization.

Richard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard said...

So, what is an Argument from non-Essentials, and why does it violate the Rule of Fundamentality (so necessary to proper concept formation)?

If I explain Argument from non-Essentials here, without being asked, will a ‘thin-skinned’ someone dismiss me as “arrogant”?

Here’s the shortest explanation I can muster:

Imagine defining Mankind (sensu: Homo sapiens), as “an animal that wears a watch”.
Is an Homo sapiens without a watch not a Man?
Why do Men wear a watch?
In fact, why do Men have millions of different tools, often of incredible complexity?
Does a sharp twig poked in a hole reflect the same “tool” principle as Mankind’s tools?
Clearly not.

Man is a rational animal. He uses concepts, logic and principle to create those tools.

His tools are not just a single, accidental discovery of associative cause and effect, akin to a dog sitting because it gets him a treat.

Mans’ tools are a product of his conceptual mind. In that respect, does one man’s skin color matter? Should he accept insults from those morons who think it does? If those morons cannot grasp a more rational way of thinking do we give them credence? If someone does accept the insult, is he not making the same error as those insulting him?

Amusingly coincidental, a talk show radio host, right now (@10:39 am on CFRB 1010 Toronto) is addressing this exact topic. He has coined the term “Whitey Polity” for whites who are so concerned someone might accuse them of racism or religious bigotry that they are forever on guard against making ANY action or speech that some oversensitive person might construe that way. He has just gone so far as to say that his concern with this might mean that he has white guilt, and by that alone is racist.

I agree with him. He has accepted guilt for being racist simply because he is White, not because he had any intention of being racist. Since Whites so often accused of it, he began to see himself as guilty because he was white.

Never accept unearned guilt! Never view yourself in terms of color, as he did. Reflex Racism is no figment of my imagination; it is rampant among people of all colors.

Is my pointing it out, arrogance? No.
It is discernment!

Anonymous said...

I hope to hell somebody has mentioned this in one of the 167 comments before that I haven't and don't have time to read, but why don't white people ever look at the HISTORY as to WHY there are black awards?

Right now, blacks are excluded from the biggest selling genre in the country, romance. If you're black, you can not write romance, you must write African American romance which is deemed inferior and shunned by majority romance readers and only marketed to other black readers.

So of course, if any black book in that genre wants recognition, they must have their own awards.

The odds Justine Larbalestier's book have been put on white shelves and marketed to whites if she were black writing black characters would be exceedingly low.

She got what she has not only because she's talented, but because she's talented and white.

White people need no more awards or pats on the back. They give themselves so much.

Why do whites so rarely ever address real race issues when it comes to blacks?

Richard said...

Re: Anonymous at August 18, 2009 10:05 PM

There are several very good reasons why there are not Negroid Romance novels, some do involve race and some do not.

1) Had you read some of the comments above you might observe that some commenters have presented reasons to consider judging anything by race as racist!

A fine piece of music conducted by a musically expert and inspired white man is just as fine a piece of music when conducted by a a musically expert and inspired black man. To suggest otherwise, whether pro-white or pro-black IS racist.

The same principle applies to fine art, sculpture AND literature. Take any good novel that deals with powerful moral conflict. Now, without losing the conflict, change the name and background of the main character(s) to something more typical of a different race, and you will still have a good novel. This is because most real moral conflict (including troubled romances) is NOT a matter of skin color/race.

In fact skin color has been belabored endlessly. There is nothing left to be said about it, except to appease, or appeal to, a market* of reflex racists (see above) and their ilk. Such publishing is racist in judgment... which is precisely what enlightened Western Culture should be abandoning.

2a) *Go to this pie-chart of race distribution of the US population. Blacks are ~12% to Whites at ~75%. If I was black, I would market to both sides, and unless I was sure I could harness a large portion of it, I would not focus on the Black market alone.
2b) This market issue is especially true because 24% of American Blacks are functionally illiterate, and another 43% are only capable of elementary reading (2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy PDF p8)). A very depressing total of 67% of Blacks do not value reading. That sure cuts into the market potential for books.

3) Black subculture, in large part, is itself very racist. It is no secret that it views the pursuit of knowledge, especially at the University level, to be an abandonment of the Black 'brotherhood' (race) in favor of doing things of which Whities approve. Those few blacks who pursue knowledge are scornfully labeled as "Oreos" —black on the outside but White on the inside.

This cultural approach is NOT a function of the literature available to them, so much as the 'special' education the young receive in public schools. They are taught that they are black, that they are victims, that enslavement by whites, and white culture is what has caused their poverty. It is that very teaching that has derailed them from the one track that could lift them up: colorblind knowledge and the colorblind pursuit of advanced careers.

The irony is that much of this derailment has been conducted by Whites who are so focused on race rather than reason, that they have passed on that perspective, doing far more harm than good.

That same error lies at the root of race based literature & race based awards. Every teacher, academic, parent, librarian should be focusing on Theme, and on seeing characters in books as people rather than a race representative.

Sure, if there is an excellent literary achievement that includes an Hispanic, a Negro, an Asian, or a child of German Nazis, by all means include it in the syllabus. Its true value must NOT be because the book includes this decade's race of concern ("Julio In the Apache Reservation School"), but because its intellectual level rises ABOVE the mundane matter of skin color.

That is, a book's THEME must be original and instructive, not just another trite rehash of other race themes.

Nor should the PLOT focus on stereotypical, race-based, events & interactions. Doing so only dilutes the theme and main conflict to issues of race, rather than towards the protagonist's struggle to achieve and/or assert moral character.

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