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"White Shaming Does Not Improve Race Relations"

"White Shaming Does Not Improve Race Relations"

By    |   Wednesday, 26 February 2020 04:13 PM

I have advocated my entire adult life for equal treatment of all people. Perhaps that’s due to my own minority status. We’re all humans striving for a chance at a decent life regardless of how we define that. We eliminated most systematic racism with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Of course, sporadic and regional cases of discrimination continued; many cases of discrimination still occur. With racial tensions high at some college campuses and across the country, many university administrators, politicians, and business owners routinely challenge (if not scold) Whites for racist attitudes or discriminating. I generally support anti-racism endeavors. But after four decades of “political correctness,” new social mores have taken root that do not mitigate racial discord. Political correctness institutionalized double-standards. As an example, when entertainers call Trump an orange orangutan (e.g., Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Maher, Wanda Sykes), audiences laugh. If entertainers were to compare Obama to a simian, their career is over. Political correctness also has eroded free speech. Discussions on pressing issues such as undocumented immigration, affirmative action, and so on often are muted to avoid charges of xenophobia or racism. In addition to those offspring of political correctness, a potentially more pernicious behavior has become socially acceptable: attacking Whites. What follows are selected excerpts from a book I just published called White Shaming: Bullying based on Prejudice, Virtue-Signaling, and Ignorance.

In a country proclaiming to value diversity and multiculturalism, white Americans and Western culture frequently are under siege for misdeeds such as colonialism, slavery, Jim Crow, racism, and white privilege. Whites are expected to shut up, own their presumed racism, and feel guilty for the transgressions of other Whites. I call these attacks White shaming. White shaming is a form of bullying. The bullying reflects shamers’ own unacknowledged animus toward Whites as well as their need to feel righteous (aka: virtue-signaling).

            College courses now exist based on shaming Whites for presumed racism and privileges. Stanford offers a course called “White Identity Politics.” According to the syllabus, students will examine how the concept of white identity can be understood in relation to white nationalism, white supremacy, white privilege, and whiteness. White shaming in the classroom descends to a new low when elementary schools teach white children they are privileged, racist, and responsible for the misdeeds of other Whites. A private school in Manhattan, NY — Bank Street School for Children — openly advertises that it offers a “progressive” education for children. Although the majority of their students is white, the school attracts many upper-class minority students. Banks had employed Anshu Wahi as Head of Diversity Instruction. Wahi had implemented a “Racial Justice & Advocacy” curriculum which, according to some parents’ reports, required separating minority children from white children in order to have safe spaces for minorities. The minority children were encouraged to talk about instances when they have had “ouch moments” (Wahi’s phrase for “racial microaggressions”). They were encouraged to feel ethnic pride, while white students — according to some disgruntled parents — were taught that any success whites have was unearned. According to Bank Street School’s FAQs About the Racial Justice & Advocacy Curriculum handout, when a white child expresses that the diversity curriculum is unfair, the child’s parent should “Work with your child’s teacher to explain in developmentally appropriate language that Bank Street wants to give kids of color a space to talk about shared experiences because even in society today, people of color are treated unfairly.” In other words, white children questioning their diversity program should be told that minorities need breaks from Whites and that people of color are victims of oppression. Are some minorities treated unfairly? Sure. Are all minorities treated unfairly? National surveys reveal that most African Americans do not believe they have experienced any racial discrimination during the past three months leading up to the survey. Moreover, a slight majority of African Americans believe that if African Americans are unsuccessful it is due to their bad decisions. Yet, portraying all minorities as perpetual victims is the mantra of White shamers. 

            Arguably, the White shamer of the decade is sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson. When he speaks, the casual observer might conclude that he compensates for his personal insecurities by fronting a know-it-all façade, rarely allowing others to get a word in edgewise. Few individuals are as dedicated to indicting Whites as is Dyson. He has a knack for stereotyping Whites as racists with no ability to critically examine his own racism. He — like many liberals today — has an irrational hatred for Trump. Reasonable people may have misgivings with Trump as a person or with some of his policies. But for Dyson, Trump’s presumed racism is an obsession. He continues peddling the claims that Trump has said (according to Dyson), “…all Mexicans [are] rapists, Muslims who should be banned, black people who should be discriminated against, women who should be treated in a sexually predatory manner….” Every video I have seen of Trump talking about Mexicans has been in the context of addressing undocumented immigrants, certainly not all 130 million Mexican citizens. Dyson struggles with nuanced information. Moreover, there are over 40 Muslim-dominant countries with hundreds of millions of Muslims living worldwide. Trump’s so-called “Muslim travel ban” focused only on citizens in seven countries (five of them Muslim-dominant [two were North Korea and Venezuela]) which had dubious governments, thereby making it difficult for U.S. embassies to verify those governments’ visa-related documents. Dyson also struggles with honesty. Does anyone really believe Trump has said that Blacks should experience discrimination? Dyson made those unfounded assertions while browbeating a white CNN political commentator. Dyson stingingly told the commentator, “Until white folks like you can stand up and find your spine, you will continue to be complicit in the racist animus of this country.”   

            Dyson wants Whites to contribute money to an “individual reparations account” for Blacks. He proposed that in his book Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America where he also wrote, “We can do nothing to make our tormentors stop their evil.” “How can we possibly combat the blindness of white men and women who are so deeply invested in their own privilege that they cannot afford to see how much we suffer?” Dyson chides any White daring to resist his excoriation of Whites. “You are emotionally immature about race…You have no idea that your whiteness and your American identity have become fatally intertwined.” “Your resistance to feelings of guilt is absurdly intense.” Tormentors stop their evil? You are emotionally immature about race? Gee, Professor Dyson. Tell us how you really feel about Whites.

            White shamers also want to display their virtue. Virtue-signaling is publicly communicating one’s moral superiority and anti-racism. Take cases of those partaking in the toppling of statues erected to honor individuals involved with slavery or the civil war on the Confederate side. If that is their only cause for celebration, their statues should be preserved, perhaps, but transferred to history museums to document our progress. The toppling of statues does nothing to address problems faced currently by some minorities over which the topplers presumably are angry. To whatever extent black children attend substandard schools, for example, attacking statues does nothing to address that legitimate concern.

            Seeing the frenzy displayed by statue topplers when bringing down a statue, it’s easy to infer their motives are less than noble. The videos capturing students in Chapel Hill toppling “Silent Sam” showed students fathoming themselves as new world freedom fighters — as if they had liberated captives of some modern dictator. Silent Sam was not even a statue of a real person. The United Daughters of the Confederacy had arranged his installment in 1908, dedicating him to “…the memory of the Chapel Hill boys, who left college, 1861-1865 and joined our Southern Army in defense of our State.” His supporters always have claimed Silent Sam is a monument dedicated to their ancestors who died in the Civil War and nothing more. His opponents claim he represents white supremacy and the desire to enslave Blacks. But here’s the deal: it’s a statue. It’s not a real person. But, don’t tell the topplers that. One student even cut her skin and wiped her blood on the statue to protest Silent Sam. Removing statues also does nothing to combat slavery that still exists in many parts of Africa and Asia. Those virtuous statue-fighters are silent about slavery in non-Western nations. If they gain nothing by confronting contemporary world slavery, they care little about people today who endure modern enslavement.

The “treat everyone equally with respect” aspiration has morphed into a “treat everyone equally with respect except Whites” attitude. Whites expressing racism ought to be confronted. So do non-Whites. White shaming is problematic because hatred begets hatred. Relentless accusations of “implicit bias” and unearned privileges does not facilitate mutual respect. Those who shame Whites indiscriminately lack credibility. White shaming is hypocritical and must be confronted. Let’s take a stand against all racial mistreatment so we can get along better and move forward as a nation.

Author Bio:

Charles Negy is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Central Florida and Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Florida. He has published over 50 studies in scientific journals and edited a graduate level text book on Cross-Cultural Psychotherapy. His research has focused on the psychological well-being of ethnic and sexual minorities. He has lived in the U.S., Spain, and more recently, El Salvador where he was a Fulbright Visiting Professor. A letter he wrote to students about “religious bigotry” had over 700,000 hits on Reddit in 2013.

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I have advocated my entire adult life for equal treatment of all people.
civilrightsact, racism, americans, shamers
Wednesday, 26 February 2020 04:13 PM
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