with Yascha Mounk
Professor Glenn wrote in the intro to this session: "we need a middle ground where we can identify with the racial or ethnic community from which we emerged without socially confining ourselves to that group. We need to make the boundaries between groups more porous, not reify them by writing them into the law and our institutional standards. "
My question: How does that apply to "Norwegian-Americans" and to their children who grow-up in state educational systems that idealize Kendi, DiAngelo, and Bettina Love?
If racial identities and pride of non-white people should be acknowledged and affirmed, what should be taught to white children? If, as Mounk claims, all people need/want social recognition, what does that mean for white children? Should they be demonized in pre-school to prepare them for the racial inquisition they are likely to receive in grades K-12?
Government should abandon "race." All it's really used for is forcing people into "racial" categories that don't even describe them. Too many whites have been counted as "blacks" and too many brown-skinned Latinos, Central Asians, Arabs, North Africans, etc. have been classified as "white" because foreign countries must not be insulted.
I like to use the word genealogy rather than race, and learning one's genealogy is the study of history and gives an integrated picture, which the use of "race" alone can't do. This is also a spiritual quest as we try and understand why we are here and how we arrived in our time and place.
White Conservatives chose Donald Trump as their leader. The man is a bigot. Another bigot Paul Gosar, sits in Congress. White Conservatives aim voter suppression efforts directly at ethnic minority groups. In this setting, we get another tome telling us that the Left is the problem when it comes to issues of race. Because Conservatives are so removed from reality that they are actually surprised when their culture war attacks generally fail when presented to the public. Rick Santorum suggests democracy doesn’t work when it comes to “certain” issues.
Conservatives thrive on racial division Trump calls his opposition “vermin”. Conservatives increase his lead against his party opponents in response. Conservatives will remain in a bubble. Kmele Foster,Shelby Steele, and Robert Woodson are not mainstream in Black thought. BTW, neither is Kendi. When Conservatives address the race hustlers in their own ranks, then they can come talk to the Black community.
Black males are the strongest supporters of the Democratic Party. They do feel that their specific needs, as to those of Black women are not being addressed by Democrats. Owever, when they see Conservatives leading the charge to prevent Black women from funding Black female entrepreneurs, they reject Conservatives as a solution. The bottom line is Conservative talk about creating policy that de-emphasizes race will fall on deaf ears. The Conservative Moms For Liberty were booted from multiple school boards with the help of Black voters who identify Conservatives with banning books about Black icons.
Edit to add:
When it comes to universal patterns of conduct that should be tge standard. Republicans are failing. A Republican Senator stood up from his chair during a witness hearing and seemed ready to physically assault the head of the UAW. In another situation, Kevin McCarthy was seen elbowing a Republican colleague who voted against McCarthy remaining as speaker.
Until Conservatives repair their culture, there will not be any universally accepted standard of behavior.
Great conversation as always. I'd like to add something I've been sitting with as I listen to your show while working as a psychotherapist and this seems like a relevant post to do so. There is a chasm between what the culture has become obsessed with talking about (identity essentialism) and what most of my clients talk about most of the time: their actual lives. I've worked with a very "diverse" group of people (by diverse I don't just mean skin color but diversity in class, cultural background, country of origin, economic status, core interests, sexual orientation, etc). In the years I've been in practice I would say that "identity" as constructed by the left today accounts for less than 0.1% of what real people actually talk about. There are just so many other things that are important to people other than the most superficial layer of their identity. Real people actively engaged in real life want to find love, passion, work through creative blocks, create boundaries with difficult family members, find meaning, become better parents, etc etc etc. I have the privilege of getting to know people more intimately than even their partners, family, etc, probably ever do at least in some ways, and in that rich inner world they already live in an almost entirely post-racial/post-identity/etc society. Of course there are reasons to speak of identity in some way but most people don't take it that seriously, it's just a data point. "Of course I'm checking the guys out at the pool, I'm a gay man!" or "Obviously we didn't talk about emotions growing up, my parents are Japanese" or "Being from New Zealand but white, it's hard for people to understand that I feel like a cultural outsider in America".
People that seem to hold identity in a healthy way wear it like an outfit, with pride (or perhaps discomfort) for the style while knowing well that there is more to them than that. Objectively speaking, I've found that I have about a 0% chance of accurately predicting what a client is going to talk about based on their race/gender/etc. It would be hard for me to find a more prescient data set to indicate the incredible progress our society has made compared to what I've read in history books, in spite of the imperfections that still persist.
In contrast, I can only imagine that to the extent an individual client (or much worse, their therapist as my field rots to its core) gets hijacked by this ideology, they will be taken away from true connection with themselves, their own unique individual life journey, and the personal agency they have to effect real change in their lives.
Great dialog, great insights.
We might be able to avoid a lot of unnecessary friction if we considered 'blackness' an ethnic culture, rather than a racial identity. It is an ethnic culture that developed out of America's racist past, just as Ashkenazi Jewish culture developed attributes that comes out of its oppressive Eastern European past. That won't change real racists from acting as racists, but it would more in line with how the rest of us relate.
Mr. Mounk is more or less correct that interactions among people with different backgrounds helps people understand one another. I remember a discussion between John McWhorter and Ta-Nehisi Coates in which Mr. Coates commented that he was shocked when white Iowans voted for Obama. He assumed that, being white, they were racists and would never vote for a Black person, but admitted that his view of white people was basically the product of never having spent any time with them.
However, I take a bit of exception to Mr. Mounck's recommendation that places like universities force students from different backgrounds to interact with each other.
I assume that, generally, interacting with people from other backgrounds could lead to more acceptance of the other cultures, but it doesn't always work out that way. In fact, it could have the opposite effect than the one intended - being constantly confronted with a different culture does not necessarily make you open minded.
If forced interaction generated the positive results Mr. Mounck seems to attribute to it, we would expect schools that faced forced integration (busing) to be paradises of racial harmony. I'm not sure it's worked out that way.
More generally, there is something to be said for letting people make their own decisions about with whom they want to interact. I prefer that universities and governments not treat our lives as lab experiments in the march toward the Great Society. Let us get to know each other on our own time, in our own way.
I think that without some form of racial abolition that we are bound to replicate the group dynamics of race and reinscribe people in the exact same way everyone against racism decries, regardless of their anti-racist methodology. I think that the challenge we face today has a great deal to do with the ways in which black Americans are corralled to regard each other and thus constrain their own individuality in what are largely performative gestures of racial solidarity.
Consider the recent controversy of the slap heard around the world. Who was the proper black man, Chris Rock or Will Smith? I wrote about it several months ago. https://mdcbowen.substack.com/p/chris-rock-and-the-four-violations