The temptation is just to laugh off such mindless ideological claptrap—but it is a real scandal that the scarce resources of such an important local educational institution would be squandered so foolishly.
Thanks very much for your comments, Larry!
I think we should clarify that while race is a cultural construct, the construct does have real effects in the world. The ways in which people have decided to define themselves are a defensive reaction to being defined, often by an oppressor. It's a way to navigate a world that has been constructed in the oppressor's image. People adopt the definitions and tweak them, as a way to exist within the label that is thrust upon them.
This goes for any "underdog" group you can find. There will always be a push for defining an identity for oneself after those in authority or those who think of themselves as the majority created categories and shove people into them.
That being said, I do think that all existing categories fall short of defining the reality of people, even the good categories. When sitcoms such as Will and Grace hit the air, it simultaneously served to ingratiate "gays" to mainstream America, defining "them" in a much nicer light than they had been, while also severely limiting the definition of "gay." Many, many, many people did not see themselves reflected in those characters.
For now, the language we use, the categories we form, serve to unite people and hopefully create a positive movement, but are no more accurate definitions of who each person is as an individual than simply calling someone a man or a woman. I hope we can get to the point where we describe people in terms of how they are to each other, which is all we really need to know about a person.
I will be going back to see the exhibit again this weekend. I found it to be quite challenging, but not for the exact reasons that you gave.
I found it challenging because it is difficult to talk about race in the context of an exhibition that makes the case that “race” does not exist except as a human construct. It is as though we do not have an appropriate language to use, because that human construct has so defined how we talk, think and make laws that we do not know what words to use to think in any other way.
The exhibit, heavy as it is in the use of text and words, seems to be moving us toward something that is unexpressed or perhaps inexpressible, given the limitations of the box we have constructed.
If it is an error for me to define you as black or white, because there is no objective basis to that distinction, it is also an error for you to define yourself that way, though of course you have the right to be wrong! Are we really willing to go there?
If race is a simply a human construct and the diversity of human traits are a continuum of colors of beige and brown or slight variations in shape of skulls and bones, then there is a potent message for all of us, racists and non-racists alike.
If there is no reality to our identities of “white” or “black” or “Asian” other than the invention we bring to it, then that preposition calls into question not just the ignorant abhorrent words and actions of those who spread hatred in the name of racial superiority, it also challenges the rest of us for whom that racial identity has been a means to gather political strength, unity and means to oppose that hatred through organized action.
In effect, if race does not exist, then “White Power” and “Black Power” are equally invalid.
It seems to me that the exhibit seeks to define “racism” not simply in the pejorative sense of the Ku Klux Klan or the local Republican Party. Instead, racism is defined as a system of classifying people, whether it is how others define us inappropriately, or how we define ourselves through identity politics. And that is a big difference.
What we need to invent now is a new truly inclusive language that will allow us to discuss these issues more broadly and in a way that does not posit human beings in oppositional relation to each other.
How will that happen? I don’t know, but this sort of change can happen over time. At one time, we divided ourselves into pools of hard laboring serfs or lords of luxury. Though we may feel sometimes that we still live in that era, we do not define ourselves in that way anymore. But the future is risky for all of us, if we truly want move beyond race. But it certainly is a risk worth exploring.
In your very helpful list of resolutions, I was disappointed to see that you
did not mention Rochester Education Foundation's continuing
drive to collect musical instruments for Rochester city school students.
Since 2005, REF has engaged a very generous community to collect
more than 900 used instruments for city school students. Please help us
spread the word so that we can continue to collect instruments, which
are used and enjoyed by our city school students. Donors receive
a tax-receipt for their generous gift of a musical instrument.
Thank you and yours truly,
Rochester Education Foundation
A far more useful resolution would be for everyone to commit to Rocking the Boat. This can best be done by challenging the local media to improve the fairly insipid manner in which the "investigate" and report on matters of interest. They're not going to use their public positions and bully pulpits to challenged our so called "leaders" unless and until we start demanding less fluff and more facts, less civic cheer leading and more civic conscience, less getting in bed with our elected officials and more getting in their faces.
During the Golden Age of Hollywood (and before) quality acting and quality scripts were used to attract audiences to the box office . Now it's high tech drek. All digital will give us is crisper, clearer crap.
Yikes. This is billed as a "Christmas" event? It sounds more like a group therapy session for the dysfunctional. As Yogi Berra would say, include me out. But I wonder why the word "Christmas" is used in the title of the show rather than the politically correct "holiday". I guess 'holiday' didn't provide enough shock value.
To Ted Christopher - I followed your advice in researching the 2005 "Times" piece " A New Home, Not Quite Vacated" by Susan Millar Perry - of which I found to be excellently written and most concise regarding for what many have described from such experience.
Thank you for the suggestion.
To Yvonne Cleveland - Amen sister!
I am ecstatic at your ability through strength of faith in being able to assist a family in need.
God bless you sister.
Anyone who wants ghosts moved from their residence just respond back to this comment. I'm not a ghost buster, just a Holy Ghost filled Christian who took Jesus at his word when he said to his disciples, "Greater works than these shall you do in my name." I once worked as a librarian at a local college, where I got the oddest reference question, "how can I find out if a murder has happened in my new apartment?" After a good reference interview, I got to the question behind the question which was, "how can I get rid of the ghost that my son and I see in my kitchen? I told the young woman that I would give her a prayer that she could pray, but that it was a spiritual warfare prayer and she would have to be born again (some people use the term saved) in order for it to work--she agreed. So, I gave her a prayer called "the sinners prayer" which would get her saved (and filled with the Holy Ghost who has power) as well as the house cleaning prayer. She said them both, and when I followed up with her later, she the ghost was no longer in her kitchen and her son wasn't afraid to put garbage in the kitchen trash can and he was no longer afraid to sleep in his own bed. Jesus is the answer.
For an interesting ghost report given in the New York Times you might look up "A New Home, Not Quite Vacated" by Susan Millar Perry. Published on 10/30/2005.
Joe Burkhart - Censorship?.........Or evil spirits? Inquiring minds want to know !
No I posted a response to your moaning ghost commentary and they yanked it. So yes there is censorship which won't do them any good since I'll just post it through my own. Already hundreds know of their censoring of which many felt was inappropriate and somewhat quick on their part.
Joe Burkhart - Don't know whether censorship is alive and well, but gullibility and ignorance sure as hell are.
I see censorship is alive and well.
Joe Burkhart - The only moaning around here appears to be coming from the evil spirits being "investigated" by our local Ghost Busters.
Who YOU gonna call?
Stop your moaning.
I've as many negative votes as you but unlike you I see them all as a positive since even negative attention is still attention.
And we all know how much the populace loves all the intrigue and mud slinging .
So turn that frown upside down and smile in the face of adversity.
Interesting. So far my comment disparaging this abnormal, I mean paranormal schlock has garnered 12 negative votes and only one positive (well, at least there's one other intelligent City reader out there !). But at the same time the comment posted in FAVOR of wasting newspaper space on this bilge has run up almost as many negative votes (11) and almost as few positive (2).
Apparently in this political season voters see little to vote FOR and far more to vote AGAINST.
Or should we ask our local Ghost Busters if evil spirits are at work?
BWA HAHAHAHAHAHAHA !
I thought it was a great article the moment it began covering the third group over at http://beyond-known.com.
And when compared to all the other bs in this city did I see no harm in this paper having published the piece of which it did on the paranormal.
Willie Clark did a phenomenal job even though I detest the first infantile group covered while having no opinion on the 2nd.
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