Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Implicit Racism

Ta-Nehisi Coates Doesn’t Understand Racism

Ta-Nehisi Coates recently attacked Bernie Sanders for refusing to support reparations for black Americans. Coates has been trying to put race reparations on the American political agenda for a while. Coates knows a great deal about the many horrible, immoral ways that the United States government has exploited and expropriated its black population throughout its history. But Coates is a journalist, not a political theorist, and over the last few days I’ve identified some elementary problems in the way he conceptualizes racism as a political force that indicate that there is a lot of political theory he just has not read.

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Transgender vs. Transracial: Is There a Moral Difference?

Recently, Caitlyn Jenner has been in the news–Jenner is a former Olympian who is transgender and recently decided to transition from expressing traditionally male characteristics to expressing traditionally female characteristics. Aside from a few on the right, the media response was generally one of acceptance. By transitioning, Jenner realizes her vision for herself, she achieves a measure of self-actualization. This is good for her and it harms no one else. All of that seems pretty obvious to me, and I wasn’t going to bother writing about Jenner at all, because I think it’s pretty straightforward. But then this other thing happened–a woman named Rachel Dolezal showed up in the news. Dolezal is genetically a white person, but she chooses to present herself as a black person and to identify as black. The media response was very different–Dolezal was accused of pretending to be black when she is in fact a white person, of “faking it”. Many people are accusing Dolezal of appropriating black culture, of being a liar, and so on and so forth. Why are the reactions to these two women so different? Is there a difference, and if so, what’s the difference?

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The Oklahoma Racism Scandal: Why It’s Wrong to Punish the Students

The University of Oklahoma was recently scandalized when footage emerged in which members of the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon sang a revoltingly racist song:

This should make us think long and hard–how are young people acquiring racist beliefs? What are the social, economic, and environmental factors that lead young people to think negatively of other people based on their racial background? To what extent is wider society influenced by these same factors? How can we mitigate them and create a more fair and just society? But we’re not asking any of these questions. Instead, we’re going after the students and patting ourselves on the back for not being racist. That’s a mistake–here’s why.

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Leave Iggy Azalea Alone

Australian rapper Iggy Azalea is being threatened by Anonymous, an organization of internet hackers. Azalea got into a public spat with another rapper, Azealia Banks. The short version is that Banks objected to Azalea’s silence on the Eric Garner protests, Azalea said that Banks should not “judge another’s support or lack thereof solely on if they have ranted on Twitter about it,” and claimed that Banks is using world issues to promote fan battles. Banks responded by accusing Azalea of cultural appropriation, and Azalea essentially dismissed Banks as a jealous hater. All of this is fairly run of the mill stuff, but then Anonymous jumped in.

Anonymous said:

F— you, @IGGYAZZALEA. #ICantBreathe…We have so much shit on you, your scandal would be bigger than Bill Cosby’s …You are guilty of misappropriating black culture, insulting peaceful protesters, and making light of Eric Garner’s death…You have exactly 48 hours…to release a statement apologizing to @AzealiaBanks and the protesters in NYC.

So now, just a few days after Sony was threatened by Guardians of Peace and intimidated into shelving The Interviewwe have yet another rogue hacker organization threatening a person (or group of people) in an attempt to control speech. This is not okay.

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Racial Unrest in America: The Michael Brown Trial is Not The Point

Yesterday, a grand jury decided not to indict white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown. This has resulted in a mix of peaceful protest and rioting in Ferguson, as well as protests in many other major American cities. My Facebook feed is full to bursting with people declaring themselves to be for or against the grand jury’s decision. Unfortunately, I’m seeing many people get caught up in the details of arguing over whether or not the jury made the right decision. This myopic response distracts from the larger structural issue the United States needs to confront–implicit racism in American police forces and throughout American society.

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