White people’s family roots are deeper than those of ethnic minorities.

Another example of white privilege and othering is when white people assume that racialized people have deeper roots and stronger family ties than white people. The othering is based on the notion that “non-white” people are foreign people, and that “non-white” people have a stronger ethnic identity because we are more homogeneous and monolithic in ways of thought. White privilege allows white people to ignore the ways in which a white-majority society encourages only white families to lay down their roots and blossom, while historically, it enacted laws to extinguish and suppress “non-white” and racialized families.

White Americans envy African Americans for having “roots” in “Africa”, while ignoring the fact that Africa is a heterogeneous continent (like Europe), and that most African Americans cannot trace their African ancestry precisely because of white racism and slavery. It is no accident that African Americans are more likely to find documents attesting to the existence of their white ancestors. White Americans whose ancestors have been in the United States for multiple generations are the ones with the deepest roots, the ones whose histories were allowed to be recorded, the ones who own property passed down from generations, when all this was denied to non-white people.

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The White Professional Anti-Racist

The White Professional Anti-Racist (News With Nezua):

(If you cannot watch Vimeo, here is the video on YouTube.)

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Feynman was not being arrogant when he told people, “You’re wrong!”

or We Marginalized People Need to be More Like Feynman.

Update: There are some problems with the original post, as I had assumed that everyone else’s work was technical in nature and had formalized customs on what are considered “wrong” answers. In non-technical work situations, telling others that they are wrong would more likely get you fired. See the comments for some criticisms. I have amended this post, which appears as a strikeout correction and a note in the comments.

When the subject of discussion was physics, Feynman‘s brain did not process the higher authority of the people he spoke to. For example, even when he was unknown in his field, he could easily state, “No, you’re wrong,” or “You’re crazy,” to a famous and established physicist, because he would forget “who he was talking to”.

While some people may consider this behaviour arrogant, it actually indicates a temporary extinction of self-consciousness and ego, which is ideal when solving problems.

In Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, chapter Monster Minds, Feynman recounts his experience as a graduate student at Princeton, and research assistant under John Wheeler:

[…] Wheeler said, “Feynman, you’re a young fella—you should give a seminar on this. You need experience in giving talks. Meanwhile, I’ll work out the quantum theory part and give a seminar on that later.”

So it was to be my first technical talk, and Wheeler made arrangements with Eugene Wigner to put it on the regular seminar schedule.

A day or two before the talk I saw Wigner in the hail. “Feynman,” he said, “I think that work you’re doing with Wheeler is very interesting, so I’ve invited Russell to the seminar.” Henry Norris Russell, the famous, great astronomer of the day, was coming to the lecture!

Wigner went on. “I think Professor von Neumann would also he interested.” Johnny von Neumann was the greatest mathematician around. “And Professor Pauli is visiting from Switzerland, it so happens, so I’ve invited Professor Pauli to come”—Pauli was a very famous physicist—and by this time, I’m turning yellow. Finally, Wigner said, “Professor Einstein only rarely comes to our weekly seminars, but your work is so interesting that I’ve invited him specially, so he’s coming, too.”

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White people think they know all about you from reading a book.

Sometimes a white person says something about people of colour that is untrue, and when you correct her, the white person will insist that she is right because she read it in a book.

You know that it is untrue because you do not (or somebody you know does not) fit into that generalization; thus, it is inaccurate to say that people of colour have that property, without qualifiers. For some reason, the white person believes that the written word should override the lived experiences of people of colour, even when that book is a fictional portrayal of, a study of, or an interpretation of our lived experiences.

Note that to give priority to one’s lived experience over a book in this case is not a case of anti-intellectualism. (However, it is probably often dismissed as anti-intellectualism by the white person, because of the assumption that people of colour are against book learnin’ and are opposed to something because it comes from a book.) Instead, disproving a universal claim by using one counterexample is an application of predicate logic.

To disprove the claim, “All X have property P,” all you need to do is to show, “There exists an X without property P.”

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People of colour are not a story of suffering . . . Or resistance.

We are multifaceted.

And stories in which we neither suffer nor resist are just as authentic. They are a part of our daily lives.

(Click on “View subtitles” to turn on the subtitles.)

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White people dismiss non-white knowledge before they can question it.

If a white person takes what a person of colour says seriously, it does not imply that the white person does not question the claims of the person of colour. If a white person takes what a person of colour says seriously, it means that the white person does not dismiss the claims of the person of colour. “Dismissing” includes the white person considering what a person of colour has said and then rejecting it because he has never experienced it himself and has never heard of such a thing before, and then reconsidering it later only because enough people of colour started telling him the same thing.

That you have never experienced something yourself is not a valid reason to reject another person’s experience. If you are white and a person of colour mentions something that you have never experienced before, it does not mean that the person of colour must be lying or hallucinating. It could mean that you are not omniscient, and not more knowledgeable about everything than any person of colour. Given these two possibilities—either you are (i) not omniscient and not more knowledgeable about everything than any person of colour, or (ii) the person of colour must be lying or hallucinating—there is a higher probability that you are ignorant about something, and the person of colour is telling the truth and not suffering from hallucinations.

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Scientific findings are not public service announcements.

When a newspaper publishes an article about a recent scientific study concerning humans, it is almost expected that people with a political agenda will pick and choose parts of the article that support their view, and ignore those parts that invalidate it. The science writers may even intentionally and deliberately insert clarifications and disclaimers to make sure the article is inconsistent with a popular incorrect political view, but people with an agenda will ignore the clarifications and disclaimers because they don’t understand it, they reject nuances, or because they simply ignore information that does not fit into their worldview.

However, sometimes members of the public will also take into account the public’s tendency politicize controversial studies, and then accuse the study’s researchers of “knowing” that their study could be used to support a political agenda and conducting the study with the “intention” to stir up controversy and support said political agenda.

Of course, this is a complete misunderstanding of how scientific research works. Almost all scientific studies are not done to educate the general public; they are done to explore the unexplored territory in the field. The primary audience of a scientific paper is other scientists in the field. Only after the original paper endures years of debate and replications among the scientific community do the new findings make it into the canon of an undergraduate textbook. Most published studies do not make it into this canon, and are read by only a small circle of specialists.

In other words, many members of the public assume that scientific studies are conducted for them instead of for other scientists. Given this assumption, it is not too much of logical leap for them to suppose that the scientists conducted a particular controversial study with the nefarious intention to advance a political (e.g., right-wing) agenda.

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