RBOC-Racism

  • I am so sick of hearing white women talk about their journeys to wokeness.  Like… I just don’t care?  Like, get there, but I don’t need to hear about the journey and your feelings?  Especially not Ted talks and videos and Zoom “conversations about race” led by white women.  And I’ve only been having to deal with this for a few years… No wonder POC who have been having to hear these confessionals all their lives don’t want to hear them from strangers on twitter.
  • I suppose me listening is still a service to POC since it means the white woman gets to talk to someone… so I can probably handle listening to students and colleagues (So… Many… Colleagues… and so many white men who think they’re there but really aren’t anywhere near it yet)… but please not the Ted talks and required videos and definitely don’t give anyone a forum when you could be paying a POC with actual expertise to talk instead.
  • I do talk about race a lot.  But… it’s not about me.  I think it’s ridiculous to make it about me (ironically, because this bullet *is* about me).  I’m part of the systems of oppression so I have to help dismantle.  I have to check my biases.  I have to do things now and in the future because I still screw up a lot.  It’s hard not to, so I keep trying.  But I’m not the one being negatively affected.  I’m benefiting in many ways.  So most of what I talk about is the research base (Racism is REAL, and the older I get the more of a sociologist I become regarding its causes) and how it is our responsibility to fix things.  And here are some things we know don’t work…
  • What I really hate is that so many of our minority students have been treated so badly throughout their lives that just being a decent person can give a prof a reputation for being “one of the good ones.”  Like, we should all be good ones so it doesn’t seem worthy of extra gratitude.
  • Upon reflection (and watching two videos on white women’s journeys to wokeness directed at other white people), I think white women have been trained to talk about difficult things through the lens of ourselves… we use the “I” language and use ourselves to illustrate because that seems less threatening.  We’re able to say, of course, YMMV.  It’s like when we talk about childrearing stuff– it’s all, this worked for me.  (Though I also… don’t really talk about childrearing stuff unless someone asks*… and also I could have scooped Emily Oster with how much PubMed and books etc. on pregnancy and infant rearing I’d read with DC1, so much of my discussion is research-based rather than me-based.)  So basically, our stupid patriarchal society makes us do this, but we can stop doing it at minority people?
  • *I realize this statement is not actually true because I certainly have talked a lot about it on the blog and not just under the Ask the Grumpies Friday column.  But like, in person not so much.
  • If your department wants to do a racism training, I recommend Bedelia Richards.

18 Responses to “RBOC-Racism”

  1. Foscavista Says:

    I belong to a Facebook group of early modern scholars. When BLM started, everyone who has ever written anything concerning minorities in the early modern world were self promoting their publications like crazy, no matter how long ago they were published. I gave my computer screen many Liz Lemon-like eye rolls.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t know that that’s such a problem– given we still have many many people who think Black people were somehow literally invented in the US during slavery. (Not in the figurative definitions of “Whiteness” and “Blackness” change over time sense, in the literal, Black people did not exist and therefore shouldn’t show up in historical or fantastical fiction even if literal dragons are portrayed as real sense.)

      I *do* think it’s terrible that when Black people do this scholarship it often doesn’t get as much visibility as when white men do it. But I also think we need some white men doing this kind of scholarship because otherwise people don’t think it’s legitimate, which sucks.

      Outside of academia, I LOVE what Rick Riordan has done by promoting authors from non-Western traditions as part of the Percy Jackson greater universe instead of writing books about non-Western Gods himself. (DC2 is madly in love with one of these series and cannot wait for the third book to come out.) In the ideal world he wouldn’t have to do that and they’d be able to publish well and be widely read without his highlighting them, but this is so much of a step up from him doing the cultural appropriation himself that I’m glad for it.

  2. Fiona McQuarrie Says:

    It may come from the idea that “the personal is political” and that the story has more impact if the speaker relates it to their own experiences, i.e. doesn’t just present facts and data. But then I avoid most TED Talks anyway, because TED is elitist and exclusionary by design.

  3. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    It would have been helpful to have a You standing in when I had to explain to our earnest well meaning WW broker that in fact, your own personal experiences and one Black friend who has never expressed an opinion or issue with racism in the Bay Area is in fact NOT proof that the Bay Area isn’t racist AF. It was exhausting and I’m not even Black. But I couldn’t stand the thought of her going around thinking that the Bay Area was totally racism free, it made me a little banana pants.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      One of the really awesome things that Bedelia Richards said was that if your “black friend” hasn’t talked to you about race and racism, then they’re probably not actually your friend.

      • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

        I came very close to pointing that out. Because why the hell would they bother to talk to you about it if you can’t see what’s it front of your face? Totally exhausting.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        To Be Fair… today in class one of my Hispanic male students (non-Hispanic first name) said that as a brown person he had NEVER experienced fascism. Which… that’s nice for you? But maybe if you used TikTok or WeChat or were a refugee or had a womb or lived someplace different you might have had different experiences?

  4. Jenny F Scientist Says:

    Our college is currently requiring each department do two DIE things this term which I’m pretty sure will lead to a lot of self congratulatory, ineffective workshops…. We ended up with a “best practices” lit review from some librarian, all of whose studies are from places literally ten times as big but they totally apply here. It’s annoying because I’d rather do something effective but there’s no time or funding.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      DIE = diversity/inclusion/equity?

      I do recommend Bedelia Richards. We’ve had two other bias trainings that I would not recommend at ALL– I think they had negative effects. Sylvester Mata also gave us a decent training a few years ago, but it was really more about explaining the problem than about giving actions to move forward.

      We’re supposed to get bystander training sometime from the university but it has thus far been not forthcoming. I think I would definitely start with bystander training if I had limited resources and then how to make classes more inclusive (#2 has a lot of research-based recommendations for this one that definitely work at SLACs… I don’t know if she’s ever blogged about it, I should look through the archives).

      There’s a lot of useful trainings… but also a lot more harmful trainings it seems. I will say that the two harmful trainings we had were done by white people, and I don’t want to say that white people suck at giving bias trainings because #notallwhitepeople, but in my experience…

      • Jenny F. Scientist Says:

        The problem is everyone’s budget got cut 30% this year and there is no funding for training! Literally not a single dollar, or else I would advocate hiring someone like Bedelia Richards. Nope, we’re supposed to… do it ourselves? My spouse and I and many other people are already doing many of the research-based recommendations that work at SLACs, but a lot of the retention research was done at R1s with intro classes of 200.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Probably better to have a sociology prof do it as university service than to hire someone terrible…

        (Though unfair to the sociology prof if it’s just additional service.)


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