On Refusing to Let Others Pull Your Strings

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On Refusing to Let Others Pull Your Strings

by baldilocks

Ran­dall Kennedy:

A stu­dent read a sen­tence in class from James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time: “You can only be destroyed by believ­ing that you really are what the white world calls a ni**er. [edited for DTGB sen­si­bil­i­ties through­out]

Air­ing the N-​word caused a com­mo­tion. The pro­fes­sor lead­ing the class, Philip Adamo, asked the stu­dents if they felt it was appro­pri­ate to voice the word Bald­win had writ­ten. In doing so, Adamo repeated the word. Later, he sent to the class two essays on the pol­i­tics of the N-​word. The next day, some stu­dents asked Adamo to leave the class­room while they dis­cussed the lin­ger­ing con­tro­versy. They were joined by other stu­dents who were not enrolled in the course. He com­plied with their request. Later, after a flurry of emails in which Adamo con­tin­ued to try to explain him­self, the uni­ver­sity removed him from the course. He has since been sus­pended, pend­ing the out­come of a for­mal review.

This dispir­it­ing farce dis­cred­its those who have played a role in it and under­mines Augsburg’s claim to be a seri­ous insti­tu­tion of higher learning. (…)

This is not a case of a pro­fes­sor call­ing some­one “ni**er.” This is a case of a pro­fes­sor explor­ing the think­ing and expres­sion of a writer who voiced the word to chal­lenge racism. This is not a case of a pro­fes­sor neg­li­gently throw­ing about a term that’s long been deployed to ter­ror­ize, shame, and den­i­grate African-​Americans. This is a case of a pro­fes­sor who, atten­tive to the sen­si­bil­i­ties of his stu­dents, sought to encour­age reflec­tion about their anx­i­eties and beliefs.

Book link and empha­sis added by me.

I share this piece because it reminds me of the time when I pointed out that hurl­ing racial epi­thets at white peo­ple is equally as dis­gust­ing and that I don’t use any of those words. The response I got was revealing.

We don’t care if you do,” said many white persons.

What that response reveals is a bla­tant refusal to be shamed or made to feel “less than” by others.

It is oth­er­wise known as confidence.

Some might call it “white priv­i­lege,” but that would imply that only whites are capa­ble of this type of per­sonal agency and that we of the darker races can’t help but be trig­gered when­ever another tries to make us feel bad about who we are.

I call B.S. Each sen­tient adult not encum­bered by phys­i­cal, men­tal or emo­tional pathol­ogy is fully capa­ble of refus­ing to be shamed and, there­fore angered, by another.

Equal­ity is often a choice. And, since any­one who uses racial epi­thets — and not in an edu­ca­tional man­ner — is try­ing to manip­u­late his/​her tar­get into an emo­tional response, the emo­tion­ally mature tar­get can choose not to get angry.

After all, why should I care if some­one who hates me calls me the n-​word?

But get­ting to that point takes prac­tice and work — namely, work­ing on one’s inner self. Most don’t get that far and are con­tent to remain emo­tional puppets.

It’s eas­ier to allow one’s strings to be pulled by the wannabe puppeteers.

Your choice.

(Thanks to Instapun­dit)

Juli­ette Akinyi Ochieng has been blog­ging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here. She pub­lished her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

Fol­low her on Face­book, Twit­ter, MeWe, and Gab.

Hit Da Tech Guy Blog’s Tip Jar or hit Juliette’s!

by baldilocks

Randall Kennedy:

A student read a sentence in class from James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time: “You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a ni**er. [edited for DTGB sensibilities throughout]

Airing the N-word caused a commotion. The professor leading the class, Philip Adamo, asked the students if they felt it was appropriate to voice the word Baldwin had written. In doing so, Adamo repeated the word. Later, he sent to the class two essays on the politics of the N-word. The next day, some students asked Adamo to leave the classroom while they discussed the lingering controversy. They were joined by other students who were not enrolled in the course. He complied with their request. Later, after a flurry of emails in which Adamo continued to try to explain himself, the university removed him from the course. He has since been suspended, pending the outcome of a formal review.

This dispiriting farce discredits those who have played a role in it and undermines Augsburg’s claim to be a serious institution of higher learning. (…)

This is not a case of a professor calling someone “ni**er.” This is a case of a professor exploring the thinking and expression of a writer who voiced the word to challenge racism. This is not a case of a professor negligently throwing about a term that’s long been deployed to terrorize, shame, and denigrate African-Americans. This is a case of a professor who, attentive to the sensibilities of his students, sought to encourage reflection about their anxieties and beliefs.

Book link and emphasis added by me.

I share this piece because it reminds me of the time when I pointed out that hurling racial epithets at white people is equally as disgusting and that I don’t use any of those words. The response I got was revealing.

“We don’t care if you do,” said many white persons.

What that response reveals is a blatant refusal to be shamed or made to feel “less than” by others.

It is otherwise known as confidence.

Some might call it “white privilege,” but that would imply that only whites are capable of this type of personal agency and that we of the darker races can’t help but be triggered whenever another tries to make us feel bad about who we are.

I call B.S. Each sentient adult not encumbered by physical, mental or emotional pathology is fully capable of refusing to be shamed and, therefore angered, by another.

Equality is often a choice. And, since anyone who uses racial epithets — and not in an educational manner — is trying to manipulate his/her target into an emotional response, the emotionally mature target can choose not to get angry.

After all, why should I care if someone who hates me calls me the n-word?

But getting to that point takes practice and work — namely, working on one’s inner self. Most don’t get that far and are content to remain emotional puppets.

It’s easier to allow one’s strings to be pulled by the wannabe puppeteers.

Your choice.

(Thanks to Instapundit)

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, MeWe, and Gab.

Hit Da Tech Guy Blog’s Tip Jar or hit Juliette’s!