Sunday, February 15, 2009

More on Whiteness Theory

About a week ago I posted a critique of whiteness theory. on the York University bulletin board (as well as this blog). One of the frequent readers raised some objections.
Here is my response in Red. His words are in black.

I think this is a very interesting comparison, Gavin, but I also believe that the same comparison can be made with just about any powerful group that sees inequities in existing social systems. Whiteness theory is more than just a grouping…. it is an overriding ideology …. As for groups your argument would have to be looked at on a case by case basis .My experience though is that there are a significant number of groups which oppose inequities in society that are at the same time not driven by Race-Based Fascism eg. The Canadian Civil Liberties Union, SPLC, ADL, Christian Children’s Fund, Amnesty International, Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army etc. From what I have read of Martin Luther King ( a great man by any standard) he would not have approved of Whiteness Theory either. King preached solidarity…Whiteness Theory is all about reverse discrimination as a mechanism toward a greater good.

There are certainly some I think you might be able to substitute, say, feminism in these same lines and come up with a scenario that fits in with the liberation movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. Radical Feminism is a type of fascism…a topic for another time (which is why the term Feminazi carries with it a certain truism)…Mainstream feminism is not however…. Some but not all Liberation movements were/are fascist as well…In South Africa the PAC (but not the bulk of the ANC) falls into this category. Fascist ideologies are particularly prevalent in the Muslim World these days. Wahhabism and Salafism are at their core fascist.

I still think that there is value in having the discourse. I am not saying that it should be censored but it certainly needs to be taught alongside other strategies that would give it balance and place it in perspective. I am not convinced that Professors who champion Whiteness Theory are doing this (certainly it wasn’t what I witnessed at York). So in a sense they are brainwashing their students who are forced to listen to their ideological bias as if it were gospel. This is not education….

Isn't one of the most important things that all people have equal opportunities in a society and that barriers to success be investigated, where necessary, dismantled and then rebridged to improve everyone's ability to engage in a discussion about what a society should look like? I agree that is why I champion across-the board fairness, equal treatment for all and a focus on individual as opposed to group rights.

Following this line, isn't the university the best place to have this discussion? Of course…but I don’t believe that it is happening… least not to the extent that it should be. Yes, perhaps York (and maybe other education faculties) have swung too far to one side, but the questions still need to be raised, investigated, discussed and, by graduating new teachers who have at least tried to wrangle with these questions, there is an opportunity to look for clear inequities within the educational systems into which they are hired. I don't think this is wrong, as long as those who are in the system use their critical skills to evaluate the questions that are being asked of them. However if students aren’t given access to the full scope of the argument (from all sides) in class time how can we expect them to think critically?
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