Friday, May 23, 2008

"Racial minorities cannot be racist in the U.S.A." and "all whites are racist in the U.S.A."

2 statements in a NYC teachers' training manual. The "Lora Training Handbook: A Leader's Guide" — now withdrawn — was a response to an order by U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein in a class action case about the disproportionate number of minority school kids who were getting assigned to special ed classes for the emotionally disturbed. The city was supposed to sensitize teachers to the problems of racism.

Here's the earlier NYT report on the manual:

One excerpt declares, ''In the United States at present only whites can be racists, since whites dominate and control the institutions that create and enforce American cultural norms and values.''

Another passage says: ''Even if an individual white American is free from all conscious racial prejudices, he/she remains a racist, for he/she receives benefits distributed by a white racist society through its institutions. . . . They do not have to consciously decide to oppress racial minorities in order to be racist.''

At another point, the handbook advises instructors that ''challenges are to be expected'' on the book's contentions that ''racial minorities cannot be racist in the U.S.A.'' and that ''all whites are racist in the U.S.A.'' The manual, Mr. Hikind noted, then provides instructors with ways to respond to such challenges.

Elsewhere... the manual declares, ''In order to change a racist society, all persons, particularly white persons in the U.S., must actively choose in some instance to question and go against authority, rules and values, in order to behave in an anti-racist way and fight a racist system"...
What is the conventional wisdom in academia is highly inflammatory when quoted to the general public. People don't want to hear that they are racist. I understand that the idea is to loosen up set ideas and to get people to rethink their perceptions and assumptions, but a different approach is going to be needed.



Smilin' Jack said...

''In order to change a racist society, all persons, particularly white persons in the U.S., must actively..."

If we're all really racists, why on earth would we want to change our racist society? Ship 'em back to Africa!

sean said...

So let's look ahead 21 years: how will Judge Weinstein's program of reducing the number of minority students being assigned to special ed classes be working in 2008?

Paddy O. said...

This is one of those curious realities that bring out a human need to be, and prove to be, right.

One of the best and earliest lessons I learned when I was discovering academia for the first time was the fact that just because someone says something doesn't mean it's true. This seems so obvious. But it's not obvious to our emotional reactions. We think that because someone writes or says something we have to believe it is portraying the truth. We have a hard time just saying someone is wrong and dismissing them.

Which is a big problem on the internet where people get massively worked up because they can't just simply disagree. It's like we have to prove to ourselves that someone else is wrong.

But, realizing that we can just say "they're wrong" is very liberating.

And that's the case with this.

They're wrong. Not all whites are racist. People of other races can be racists. History and cultural experiences prove this.

So the teachers are wrong. The fact that so many students are having troubles in school with learning and discipline adds weight to my position.

Nothing to get worked up about or be bothered by. They're wrong, and if they kept on thinking like that they will cause more troubles and cause more kids to lose out on the opportunities that discipline and hard work provide. It then becomes true that such people are the worst kinds of racists, willing to sacrifice a generation of their own race for their racist views.

What those students need is real hope and real training how to take hold of that hope.

Henry Morris said...

I think what the world needs to face is truth. The truth is not that all white people are out to get Afro Americans and they hate them. But the truth is that because of past discriminations and injustices there is an advantage or privilege in the world for being white. Yes individual black people can be prejudice... but those prejudices will never amount to enough power to systematically oppress another race. But the white race can and has done this in the past. Not denying the fact that there aren't cruel black people out there... but not nearly enough to effect the ism in racism. Racism is a two part word Race and Ism... its the ism part the Black people don't have, enough power to systematically hold a whole race of people back. Are all white people racist? That is just a war on words... A better word is privileged and that is what ALL white people have. Just like all men, Christians and Heterosexuals in America also:)

Donna B. said...

Being constantly told that I was a racist no matter what my thoughts or beliefs about race were, contributed greatly to my worldview today.

In 1987, my son referred to a black man as "the brown man over there" because he'd never heard of a "black man" or a "negro" or any other word describing race. He simply wanted to differ the man he was talking about from the "paler" man next to him.

What he said was "The brown man was really nice."

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

Judge Weinstein came once and spoke to a Civil Procedure class I took in law school taught by an old-school civil rights lawyer. I thought the guy was loony then. But boy, I had no idea just how loony.