Indoctrination

We have to defend ourselves from ideological colonization.
Pope Francis

Martin Luther King’s central hope was that people someday would be judged by the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin. But the 2016 US election is far from being colour blind. It is littered with references to college-educated Whites or Black women or Hispanics, as if what mattered was skin colour. Back in 1964, the then Republican candidate Barry Goldwater agreed with the sitting president Lyndon Johnson that they would keep race out of the campaign and not exploit it for electoral purposes. They were different times. – Gavin Hewitt

The creator of the television show Black-ish is tired of people only seeing his show as a symbol of diversity. Kenya Barris said all anyone wants to talk about regarding his show about an African-American family is diversity and how many of its viewers are black. “I will be so happy when diversity is not a word,” Barris said. “It doesn’t matter who’s watching our show. The fact is that they’re watching it. I get so tired of talking about diversity, these are amazing, talented actors and amazing writers who give their all and they don’t have to do this. It’s crowding the conversation. Why is that important, who watched the show, why does it matter? Why do we keep having to have these conversations?”

An elite Manhattan school is separating whites in classes where they’re made to feel awful about their “whiteness,” and all the “kids of color” in other rooms where they’re taught to feel proud about their race and are rewarded with treats and other privileges. The program, these parents say, deliberately instills in white children a strong sense of guilt about their race. Some kids come home in tears, saying, “I’m a bad person.” They say white kids are being brainwashed into thinking any success they achieve is unearned. Indeed, a young white girl is seen confessing on a Bank Street video: “I feel guilty for having a privilege I don’t deserve.”

My novel The Mandibles was taken to task by one reviewer for addressing an America that is “straight and white”. The implication of this criticism is that we novelists need to plug in representatives of a variety of groups in our cast of characters, as if filling out the entering class of freshmen at a university with strict diversity requirements. You do indeed see just this brand of tokenism in television. In the world of identity politics and cultural appropriation, fiction writers better be careful. If a character happens to be black, they have to be treated with kid gloves, and never be placed in scenes that, taken out of context, might seem disrespectful. But that’s no way to write. The burden is too great, the self-examination paralyzing. The natural result of that kind of criticism is that next time I don’t use any black characters, lest they do or say anything that is short of perfectly admirable and lovely. I confess that this climate of scrutiny has got under my skin.Lionel Shriver

Frequency of the word ‘Racism’ in New York Times articles, 1851-2016

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