Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I Hate Myself Because I'm White*

I became aware this afternoon of several courses being taught, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, that are manifestations of a recently emerging field of academic inquiry called "Whiteness Studies". I saw a piece on FoxNews about it, so I sent my team of researchers here at Take That Hippy!! headquarters to frivously google search it until I had enough not-well-documented information in order to fully understand the people engaged in this heroic expedition on the front lines of racially-charged activism. It turns out I didn't need the research after all, as my original suspicions were confirmed beyond a grizzled old blues man's whisker of a doubt. It is mostly self-loathing liberal white people who are behind this (although I must admit the professor that Fox focused on was not white).

Why do white liberals hate themselves? This seems to me to be the pertinent question that should be addressed by academic endeavor taking place under the banner of "Whiteness Studies". However these brave men and women are more concerned with investigating why being white equips the bearer of this skin tone with an "invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks." At least so says Peggy McIntosh, an honorable so-called "scholar on white privlege".

The first issue that I want to address is this: why was it necessary for her to use the double-adjective "invisible weightless" in order to describe this hypothetical "knapsack" into which white people supposedly stash their intangible collection of cultural goodies? Don't misunderstand me here, I'm all for deft usage of apt literary devices when such usage enhances meaning and facilitates understanding. But "invisible weightless"? First of all, if something is invisible, it should very well be weightless, as I am not sure if physicists have found anything (certainly not a "knapsack" at any rate) that could possibly share these two properties. The opposite is likewise patently obvious: if something is weightless, the laws of physics would deem that thing not to exist, and such things are, by definition, invisible. "Invisible weightless", therefore, is a redundancy and therefore unbefitting of usage in an academic context. So, Ms. McIntosh, stick to the White Studies business, it is quite obvious that semantics, grammar, and physics are not your forte.

But on to the meat and potatoes, I think that this whole "White Studies" bit is just an example of the academic world run amuck. It is exceedingly difficult for young people holding a doctorate degree to find work in a university setting these days, much less to find a tenure-track position (the only way of making real money in all of academia). Therefore, young smart people feel the need not only to become extremely learned in a particular field, but to then go out and invent new fields in order to secure post doctorate employment. How else can one justify "White Studies"? Don't all the racially sensitive courses in "African-American Studies" departments and the like provide enough fodder for these academic activists to blather about how oppressive white people are? The answer to that question is an assured "yes", but, like I said, the issue is more a reflection of the economic situation of young academics in a tight job market than it is about educating young minds. The fact that this field meshes so well with the self-loathing liberal establishment that defines modern universities most certainly accounts for its success thus far. (As opposed to some other field young scholars might invent, such as "Rap Music as the Spawn of Satan" or something like that.)

The problem here, and I have witnessed this first-hand, is that these people do not feel like they have the right to be happy unless every single other person in the world is happy also. I honestly believe that that is somewhat noble at face value, I mean who really draws pleasure from the suffering of others, but the problem with the types of people who preach "white privlege doctrine" is that they can't seem to let go of it. One of my many goals for this blog is to uncover the psychological underpinnings of this kind of stuff, but it may take some time. There is definitely an obsessive component to their malady. They simply can't enjoy themselves if someone else isn't (and someone else forever isn't). This is obsession. There is an element of self-righteousness to it. They hold some sort of stoic belief that they are "doing the right thing" and this makes them feel good about themselves, although weirdly in a way that ultimately makes them feel bad about themselves. That has to be it for now, the confusion that clouds the liberal mind has me at a loss, again.

*Ok, I admit, I love myself even though I'm white.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this is old and nobody the author of the post probably won't even read this. I stumbled upon this blog so it's not impossible that someone might see this but I'm just responding for the sake of doing so.

It's not rational but I feel it. I'm not usually trying to figure out why I feel the way I do. I'm 19 now and looking back at my life so far I seemed to have a pretty backwards view of the world. I perceived anti-white messages everywhere and I thought the world hated white people. I internalized that and began hating myself. I still hate myself because I'm white and I know I shouldn't but I still feel it in spite of knowing intellectually that it is silly.

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

me too anonymous. I just went to an African drum circle that my black friend invited me to and i was so self-conscious of my supposed "colonial gaze" that I started crying and had to leave. I loved the music, and then become self-aware of "cultural appropriation" because one of the songs was on my ipod

7:09 PM  

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