Oops. At my age, linguistic habits are hard to change. I did it again. I messed up prejudice and prejudiced in last week’s blog.
Please forgive me. I will do better.
James Lindsay. A good friend recommended I listen to James Lindsay, an established critic of Critical Race Theory (CRT). I have been reading and listening to his ideas. In my opinion any opponent of CRT would do well to know his information and be clear on why you agree with him. Also, any proponent of CRT would be wise to digest his information and be clear on where you disagree
He is not a knee-jerk reactionary. He delves into the history, philosophy, assumptions and practices of CRT in a meaningful manner.
James Lindsay gives 13 tenets he believes to be the core of CRT. I have covered one, Standpoint Epistomology. Today I finish the second, White Supremacy.
I do not intend to cover more about CRT for a while. I do encourage everyone to continue your education on the topic. I will continue mine.
Whiteness. Last week and in previous blogs, I used a simple study to demonstrate in one instance how the problem of white supremacy was not rooted in whiteness. Blacks were denied service by whites in one location in Wichita, Kansas and eagerly served by a white in another. Since white is a constant in both situations, whiteness cannot be responsible for the failure to serve.
Since the failure to serve was by whites, the first situation is an example of white supremacy. Since whiteness is not responsible, supremacy has to be the problem. Since I am against white supremacy it is important that I show how supremacy is a problem.
Before I discuss supremacy, please note:
My thinking in no way reduces the evil of the refusal of service to Blacks.
My thinking in no way reduces the courage and power of the participants in the sit-in.
In no way am I attempting to call attention to myself for eagerly serving Blacks.
I am using my situation to show a constant does not cause behavioral differences. Since white is a constant, whiteness is not the cause of the PREJUDICED behavior by the proprietors of Docum Drugs. We must look for causes in the concept of supremacy. Therefore, an important question becomes “what makes humans feel the need to be superior?”
Supremacy is a human problem. A very important first step is to recognize the problem is a human problem, an issue of the human condition. From that perspective, since people of color are human the problem of supremacy can occur in anyone and everyone. Every color, every ethnicity, every human has the potential for the need for supremacy. To me to assume anything different would be to assume some are less than human or are superhuman. I prefer to believe all of us are human.
In the US the problem of white supremacy occurs more often for two reasons. First, because there are more whites. In the 2020 census Blacks were 12.1 %, Hispanics were 18.7% and whites were 58.7% of the population. The disproportionality in our population means there are far more opportunities for white supremacy.
The second reason is the distribution of power. I believe the concept of supremacy is closely tied to the concept of power. In the US whites have had a disproportionate level of power throughout our history. Thus, whites have a greater opportunity to abuse power and display supremacy in person and in our laws and institutions.
Why? Acts of supremacy, like most human behaviors have multiple causes. In my opinion one of the biggest is fear. When we fear losing power, we act to establish dominance in an attempt to reduce our fear. This happens sometimes in overt, conscious ways: sometimes in more subtle, even unconscious ways.
The actions of supremacy are not always or only about color. I observe many, many ways we humans devise to try to feel safer. Probably the most common way is when ownership or accomplishment make us feel superior
Obviously, it is okay to have possessions or to accomplish great things. The problem is in my motives. What I own or accomplish does not make me better than other people. If I think it does, I am feeling supremacy and my motives are the problem.
I have often told our golfers to not let golf define them. If they play better than others the accomplishment makes them a better golfer but not a better person. How they care for others is a better measure of who they are as a person than their golf score.
Why did Docum Drugs discriminate? I do not know the particulars of Docum drugs, but in the case of denial of food service, or any service for that matter, often economic fear is a big factor. The fear is that serving Blacks will reduce the number of customers. Economic fear occurs in many ways, competition for jobs and the fear that letting blacks move in the neighborhood will reduce property values are other examples of economic fear.
Why am I stressing whiteness is not a cause? In an AL.com Guest Opinion. Dr. George Johnson, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Auburn University, appropriately bemoans the failure to have been taught the Doctrine of Discovery in school. The Doctrine was the Christian justification for the invasion of non-Christian countries. He writes “Since I discovered the Doctrine of Discovery, I have been anguished that I was not taught about certain historical acts and events in world history that shape in some measure, who we are, what we believe and, why.” He goes on to say, “If this (meaning teaching difficult aspects of history) is what CRT is all about, I am an advocate of teaching that history.”
I agree with the need to teach the difficult aspects of our history. Unfortunately, that is not all there is to CRT.
I have a good friend who was required to go through sensitivity training at his work. He was told similar information as is reportedly found in A T & T training information: “White people, you are the problem. Regardless of how much you say you detest racism, you are the sole reason it has flourished for centuries.” The author, Dahleen Glanton, writes that “American racism is a uniquely white trait” and that “Black people cannot be racist.”
I heartily disagree with this position. If that is the action interpretation of CRT I vigorously disagree. I do not deny whites are a major source of discriminatory behavior toward blacks and other people of color in America. The history of that discrimination should be studied and taught. But the source of the discriminatory behavior in my opinion is not whiteness but factors of the human condition. Prejudice, fears, population numbers, abuse of power and other issues must be studied and understood to prevent and make progress in the fight for justice.
The action interpretation is claiming all whites have a responsibility for the behavior of some whites. I do not believe any culture is prepared to say all members are responsible for the behavior of some members.
Are all Russians responsible for the behavior of Putin?
Are all Blacks responsible for the behavior of some Blacks?
I dare say no, because such thinking is at the root of stereotyping and prejudice. I recognize that thinking in some whites and I condemn it. Therefore, when I see the same form of thinking in Blacks, I fear the similar development of prejudiced behavior and likewise condemn it.
I view blacks as human. It seems logical to me that since they are human then they are as susceptible to the problems of the human condition as other humans. They have fears and prejudice, just as all humans have fears and prejudice. I would much rather we struggle together on the problems of the human condition than portray the problems as a white issue. I believe we would get much farther much faster.
In Conclusion. Thus far, in addition to the parts of CRT with which I agree and those with which I disagree, I have two major conclusions: First, opponents of CRT need to understand which parts of CRT with which they disagree and why they disagree. They need to propose positive plans for ideas with which they agree such as educating about our past. They need to propose plans to fight for justice. In the Bible, justice is the pursuit of a society that cares for and supports the vulnerable and disadvantaged. The Old and New Testaments in the Bible clearly urge us to pursue justice. We must make the pursuit of justice important.
Second, proponents of CRT need to understand that to disagree and reject some aspects of CRT is not to say inequality has not occurred. It also does not say our history should be white coated. It also does not say we should stop fighting injustice. To say some aspects of CRT are wrong is not to say all aspects are wrong. Proponents should listen carefully and discuss differences. I believe it is best to develop approaches that recognize incorrectness and develop positive alternatives.
If you did not see Time magazine, February 28- March 7 issue you missed Time’s Kid of the Year. Not only the winner, but several other inspiring stories of young people are highlighted. It is an encouraging and good read.
The winner is Orion Jean an 11-year-old living in Mansfield, Texas. For Thanksgiving 2020 he organized the donation and delivery of 100,000 meals to food insecure families. Over summer break he got 500,000 books into children’s homes. He sees himself as an ambassador for kindness –I agree!
Amid the awful war in Ukraine are many stories of bravery and compassion. This is but one of many heartwarming stories. (Scroll down to the birthday story.)