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OK, let's talk about racism

One of the most fundamental things I learned in Intro to Cultural Studies is that everyone is racist. And of course, Crash was also used in CSCL as a form of media to show us just that. On top of Cultural Studies, my parents remind me often that if I don't get grades that are better than my peers, I'm less likely to be hired by a company if, say, a Caucasian performs just as well as I do. Like Villanueva says, even though we want life to be fair and equal, life often is not about merit. I agree with that. And I also find the whole "New Racism" idea interesting. Even though racism, just like gender inequality, is less apparent nowadays, it is still everywhere in some morphed, layered form. It still very much affect the way we think and the way we act.

This article also reminded me of Emily S's post a few days ago. Maggie had commented that she didn't feel comfortable giving "hints" on the content of the essay to students, and I disagreed. After all, I thought, what's wrong if I told students that 2+2 doesn't equal 3? However, after reading "Blind...", I'm having second thoughts on "Talking about the New Racism." Is it ethical to do it? I mean, to tell consultees that "No, you're wrong. Officer Ryan is very much a racist (in Crash)." This conversation might then turn into a full-blown debate between two people that have different ideas, perspectives, and experiences. In the end, is it really worth it to enter a debate that's purely composed of different opinions? But then, if I avoid the conversation, will I be labeled as another "ignorant" person by Villanueva?

And so, how do we not "avoid the large?" How do we "casually" converse about racism with our clients? Even Villanueva says that racism is becoming more and more of a taboo topic to talk about. Even if some of us might be comfortable talking about racism and its impacts on society, on media, on writers, and on writings, what about our consultees? Should we turn a 45 minutes one-on-one writing session into something that is...not about writing anymore?

Yet, Villanueva stresses that how we see the world is very much related to writing and the "language we receive and use." After all, for hundreds of years, the usage of "he" (instead of "she" or "he/she") dominated writings. We saw how African Americans were portrayed in Huck Finn, and we saw the horrid conditions that African Americans lived in even after emancipation in the beautifully written Beloved. Language, just like the media, subjects us to certain behaviors, interpolates us, and shapes our thoughts. And as Villanueva says, that's where the writing consultants come in. We're suppose to "teach the art of conversation, of civil discourse handled civilly." We're suppose to address controversies, fight against censorship, and be "bold."

Yes, racism indeed still exist, and yes, some people, as Villanueva describes, are "silencing" the existence of racism. However, how could writing consultants become the knights in shining armor? How could we, in 45 minutes, address these questions and convey to consultees that even though they claim racism doesn't exist, their language (shown through the Master's Tropes) really shows that it does (and at the same avoid offending the consultee in one way or another?)

Content or structure? Individual or society at large? Writing center or...?

Comments

I think the same basic problem that arose in Gabe's epic two-part masterpiece applies here as well. Maybe I'm just unambitious, but when I get into a session my goals are largely pragmatic, not ideological. This is actually true of me in most things that I do. . .

haha