I have had a student who said he couldn’t call me Dr. Frisby because that would mean that he thinks I am smart, and he was told that blacks are not smart and do not earn degrees without affirmative action. Yes, true story. I have so many stories to share that it just doesn’t make sense to put them all here.
What I am responding to is the frequent question I have been asked all week: How have I endured these many hateful experiences for over 17 years, and why am I still here?
I endured because God allows me to see the good and cup half full. I endured because I know my life is in God’s hands, and I do not walk alone. I endured because I find these to be teachable moments that I use in my classroom with my students. I endured (or better yet endure) because I have an amazing support system.
I endure because there are far too many of my white friends that have a heart of gold, love people of any color with a passion and who have a strong trust in and love for the Lord. I endure because I have friends who are white and daily show me that there are people who can hurt when I do and who sincerely want to make this culture a better place. I endure because I look to the Lord to help me grow and be the best person I can be.
I endure because I CHOSE AND CHOOSE to endure and overcome, and I choose to overlook ignorance. Choosing to overlook these idiots doesn’t make me a “sell-out” or an Uncle Tom. I choose to endure because my mom and civil rights leaders taught me to never run but stand straight, tall and do not run.
What a brave and inspiring woman. She continues, addressing the recent protests:
I understand the anger. I understand that we’ve had enough. I also understand and agree with my friend Traci Wilson-Kleekamp when she wrote, “Jonathan L. Butler and #ConcernedStudent1950 please give space for mistakes, listening, learning and dialogue. This on the job training thing is powerful because it is SO VERY PUBLIC.” I not only see this as on-the-job training for our administrators at MU, but I also see it as training for some of my very educated white friends.
The saddest of all things for me is to see how a few of my white friends are responding to these events and basic conflicts in race relations in our nation (i.e., police shootings, the President, etc). It hurts my heart when I see posts from these friends who make fun of us because we find things hurtful like dressing up in black face costumes or Confederate flags flying high in my neighborhood. … What bothers me is that the few of my white friends who feel this way have not taken time or energy to reach out to me and ask me why these things hurt or to understand what is going on or even send an email saying they are confused.
I think Dr. Frisby is right: many, probably most, white people do not see what black people see. Some of it is deliberate; much of it is not intentional, is my guess. I could be wrong. I don’t know, because in my experience, white people don’t talk about this stuff among ourselves, unless we can be absolutely sure that everybody in the group already believes what we believe. Nobody wants to be called a racist, or thought of as a racist. In many middle-class professional circles — even all-white ones — to say something that somebody might construe as racist is to take on taint that can never be shaken off. You are much better off staying quiet, keeping your potentially controversial opinions to yourself. There is nothing to gain from questioning the orthodoxy, and potentially a great deal to lose.
Last night, I received an e-mail from a young academic who has, early in his career, learned to keep his/her mouth shut and his head down, because, he/she says, there is no arguing with the SJW opinions in his department. The academic is right: to utter an opinion that might in some way be taken as dissenting from racial/sexual/gender orthodoxy is to identify oneself as Unreliable, and possibly even an Enemy.
This academic is starting to consider leaving the academy entirely, rather than face an entire career in fear of saying the wrong thing. This is a serious thing. If I were a young journalist just starting out, I would be thinking the same thing.
Obviously I don’t know Dr. Frisby’s friends, and I accept her expression of puzzlement as sincere. I would ask her to consider, though, that more than a few of those friends haven’t reached out to her because they are afraid to say the wrong thing. I have been in that place many times, wanting to know more, wanting to have an exchange of views, but not taking the risk of reaching out, because the risk was too great if it blew up in my face. I am confident that there are things that I did not know about the black experience that I would have benefited from knowing, and that I was not by any means closed to knowing. But it is simply too risky to make oneself vulnerable in this way.
There was a situation in one of the newsrooms where I worked in which I referred to Islamic terrorists as “savages,” triggering a complaint by a minority colleague to management that I had created a “hostile work environment” by using that word. I folded completely after that, because I knew where this would go if I stood up for myself: to the human resources department, where it would become a Thing, and the company would probably find some way to demonstrate its Commitment To Diversity™ by easing the right-wing white guy out of his job, or at least sending me to internal re-education. All this for using the word “savages” to refer to Islamic terrorists. You think I’m eager to reach out and talk to minorities I don’t know and trust as friends about these issues? You have to be out of your mind.
It is never going to be easy to talk about race in this country, given our history. We know this. But liberals (black, white, and otherwise) ought to understand that they have raised the stakes so high in this conversation that they have rendered an honest dialogue impossible. “Diversity” is a sham, an Orwellian term used to describe mandatory abasement before Social Justice orthodoxy.
Look at what’s happening at Yale. The perfectly reasonable letter from the assistant master of a college, questioning whether or not the university ought to be policing the Halloween costumes of its students, has caused mass hysteria, and the predictable groveling of university authorities before the emotional demands of students. If I were Nicholas or Erika Christakis, I would worry about my job. And to think that the entire row was sparked by a letter as anodyne as Erika’s (which, if you haven’t read it, here it is).
The campus is freaking out over that letter. Worse, at Mizzou, campus police have just sent out a letter this morning urging students to call them if they hear “hurtful speech.” I am dead serious. They want kids to call the cops if they hear words that hurts their feelings:
— Thomas Bradbury (@Thomas_Bradbury) November 10, 2015
Meanwhile, The New York Times reports on the free speech clash, and includes three November 9 tweets from the black group that instigated the campus protests — tweets that have now been deleted, apparently:
There were media personnel who were very hostile toward us when we asked to have certain spaces respected. — ConcernedStudent1950 (@CS_1950)
It’s typically white media who don’t understand the importance of respecting black spaces. — ConcernedStudent1950 (@CS_1950)
If you have a problem with us wanting to have our spaces that we create respected, leave! — ConcernedStudent1950 (@CS_1950)
This is not a movement for liberty. This is about left-wing fascism. In this environment, you would have to be brave or crazy as a white person to open your mouth to express anything but total solidarity with the mob. Here’s what it’s really about:
— ConcernedStudent1950 (@CS_1950) November 9, 2015
I would pull my student out of Mizzou at the end of this semester or academic year. A university where the campus police have empowered every thin-skinned malcontent to intimidate free speech is no longer a place where education can take place.
The only place I can imagine the kind of conversation Dr. Frisby wants to have is within the church, where all, white and black, can admit that they are sinners. The church would be the only conceivable safe space — and even then, with social media, you’d have to be extremely trusting, if not downright naive, to say anything you wouldn’t want broadcast on Twitter.
I started this post out planning to write about the church as safe space for having cross-racial conversations. As I was writing it, the Mizzou campus police thing broke, and I realized that the campus police do not seem to have any interest in protecting the First Amendment rights of journalists on campus, but rather intimidating opponents of the SJWs into silence. And so, I had second thoughts about “church as safe space.” I realized that people like me would be fools not to assume that everything we said in church can and would be used against us in the court of social media.
And then I would turn around and go home.
Social media, the Social Justice Warriors, and the craven authorities who accommodate them are the most anti-social force today.