Posted on February 6, 2015

Some Advice for Aggrieved Students of Color

Anthony Bryan, American Renaissance, February 6, 2015

Over the past several semesters non-white students at the University of Michigan have published articles in the student newspaper as part of a series called Michigan in Color. Like most universities, Michigan is obsessed with race, but it was apparently necessary to indulge in even more venting about “racism” and the sufferings of minorities.

These essays read like a parody of racial grievance and academic lingo. There is lots of talk of “awareness raising” and “facilitating change,” and–the new favorite–“creating spaces.” The writers vacillate between wallowing in victimhood and vainglorious racial triumphalism (“I conquer with a crown of black gold.”). Overwrought, self-indulgent grievance flouting is where narcissism meets hypersensitivity.

We learn from these articles that the university is built on a framework of violent racism, and that race and gender are social constructs that harm black women. Some authors list their persecutions: I was called an Oreo in middle school; I was asked if I can twerk; I had to learn the lyrics of John Mayer songs to fit in. An Asian girl remembers that at age 11 she was called a chink.

Were these lives of hardship? The current president of the United States says a white girl once asked to feel his hair and the first lady wrote an undergraduate thesis in which she complained that white students at Princeton did not accept her. They seem to have turned out okay.

Some of these stories may be true. Some may be fabrications–what editor would dare try to check them?–or they may be innocent encounters reworked through the paranoid minds of the racially obsessed. Either way, we must shake our heads gravely, and claim to be sickened by such vile injustice. (Always remember to use the word “vile.”)

Here are some lessons in reality for these students. People of different races look different and behave differently. Others make assumptions about you because they have eyes and ears and common sense. They treat you different because you are different.

Everyone has awkward moments; everyone suffers little slights and indignities. Some stranger or school yard acquaintance may very well have treated you differently because of your race. Other people get treated differently because they are fat, or short, or talk funny, or have red hair. I’m sorry someone called you a mean name. We should all try to live by the Golden Rule.

But if the worst problem you face is occasional, inconsequential teasing then consider yourself among the luckiest people to have ever lived. You live in a country non-whites are literally risking their lives to get into. You are getting a college education that young people around the world would sacrifice anything for. You live a life of material comfort and opportunity that your ancestors (and mine, by the way) never dreamed of. Can you imagine if your great-great-grand parents could hear you complaining?

You nurture and cultivate the mien of the oppressed because it serves you so well. It gives you the righteous panache of an embattled freedom fighter while you live the life of a spoiled college brat. It gives you a rationalization for anything that goes wrong in your life, and when things go right you can claim to have worked extra hard to overcome the haters. Either way you’re covered. But what if you didn’t have that racial comfort blanket? What if you had to go race-naked? What if your faults and failings were yours and yours alone? Scary isn’t it? Welcome to whiteness.

Racial cause and effect have become inverted. White people don’t treat you differently because they’re racist; they treat you differently because they know you think they’re racist. They know there is a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. They have to watch every word and every facial expression when they are around black people. The slightest, most innocent misstep could mean public denunciations, loss of friends, or getting fired. It’s tiresome. So why bother? What’s the benefit?

Dear anguished undergrads of color, you won’t have to worry about getting uneasy stares from me as you walk down the street; I don’t plan to live near you. You don’t have to worry about deciphering my racist code words over the water cooler; I’ll work with people of my own race. In public I will ignore you as much as possible. You’re not worth the trouble. Thanks for raising my awareness.