2007/07/09 New York
Poisons of color
More on integration:
‘When Justice Clarence Thomas provided a pivotal vote last month as the Supreme Court struck down school integration plans in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle, he suggested the concept of integration was inherently demeaning to black children because it implied they needed to mix with whites to achieve excellence.’
‘Christopher Edley Jr., the dean of the law school at the University of California, Berkeley, said no one had seriously argued that just putting black children alongside white children made them learn better.
“The central claim for integration today is aspirational,” Mr. Edley said. “How do we build a society that is free of the poisons of color?”’
Some would argue that the poisons of color are invincible.
Others have a point when they say that the medicine often was as bad as the illness itself.
And the question if affirmative action is effective is also worth asking.
Unfortunately, I can't hear the name Clarence Thomas without immediately wondering whether Anita Hill was right. He himself at one stage claimed the case was partly motivated by the general issue of anger towards a black man in a powerful position (not in those words) In other words: he pointed something out which wasn't an issue at all. Until he pointed it out.
Now on your previous blog entry: I didn't blame anyone. I was just underlining the concept of homogenous communities, which I find an interesting concept. It seems to me that this day and age we're seeing the uprise of various new and vast homogenous communities, communities that defy state borders and/or souvereinity. The virtual (gaming) community for one. The community of major cities that all meet the same standards. The community of ultra-rich and famous individuals who are driven by the notion that poverty can be solved and who ignore the limitations by souverein states. In other words: entirely new homgenous communities and subsequently standards are developing as we speak. When finally succeeding in integration by piercing the veils of homgenous communities on national levels, how does one do so globally? When are we able to speak not only of a of a healthy society, but of a healthy globe (and I don't mean environmentally).
Toronto is sometimes described as the most multicultural city in the world, and whether that's true or not it's on the short list. I love the ethnic mix, but of course integrating people across community lines presents a challenge. (There are communities that are almost completely self enclosed, like Chinatown, though the children of Chinese immigrants necessarily join the mainstream culture more. The same is true of the Polish community, the one I'm most familiar with because I'mmarried to a Polish woman. I can say from experience that a gathering of her Polish friends is likely to leave me feeling like a minority voice, with my half dozen phrases and no complete sentences of Polish.)
The enemy within
Noa, I think you're a little bit too optimistic towards the very rich. Yes, as a community they defy state borders and souvereinity, but I consider that exactly to be one of the features of that group. This isn't a new phenomenon though, in the past it was nobility that played that role. Where as the nobility in the first place tried to maintain their position and wealth , I think that also to be true for the very rich and famous nowadays. Their charity is often nothing more than public relations to justify their wealth.
As far as the inner circle is concerned, I think people prefer to stay in it, because that is a least the danger they know. Strugling through every day life to maintain their position they prefer the enemy within .
Noa, personally I am very suspicious about communities that strive for a higher goal, because it is a form of power structure that eliminates individuality and that celebrates the people who are part of it.
I don't need anyone to tell me how to be loyal to a Country, how to praise God and Apple, or how to fight against Poverty. Let alone if I would like to be loyal, if I would like to praise, if I would like to fight against something.
Every community is a figment and sometimes a filthy figment.
A homogenous community is a fairytale.
Individuality is also a figment, but a more interesting one than a community.
Don't get me wrong, this is not a plea for antisocial behaviour.
Ilanit, Sander and others
Two different people might have different reactions to the same ordeal. Yes, a lot is a matter of perception – I think we all agree on this.
But to say that segregation (and racism) is just a matter of perception is more than foolish it’s malicious. That’s why I came up with the example of Primo Levi.
Once again my question was not if thinking people can change the world -- I assume that some people really hang on to this idea, but: how much integration do we need, how much integration can we ask for?
Ilanit, I cannot take you out for dinner as long as you don’t have Apple products. You are not only a boorish person; your good taste is in doubt.
And do you eat like a swine, or is this just my perception? Anyhow I’ll bring earplugs. I guess you are a very noisy eater and everything you have to say is just my perception anyhow. Other people might want to change the world; I’ll change your conversational skills by bringing earplugs to our dinner date. Now you have to tell me: who is the idealist here?
So if I understand you correctly- it’s not the question of legally allowing afro Americans in white schools or neighbourhoods but should we force them to, when they don’t move? For the sake of integration lets say? That’s a bit fascist idea, if you ask me.
I’m curious as to the origin of your perception of my swinish eating habits, regardless of the subjective reality. And how will earplugs change my conversational skills I’m also curious to know?
And as of being an idealist…I don’t claim to be one and I didn’t know you aspired to.
Since I'm only able to speak about myself,my willingness to integrate ends where womens rights are at stake. Considering most cultures are far more conservative than western on this point , it leaves me very little space to manoeuvre . All of this to my regret.
I never even came close to suggesting that people should be forced to integrate, whatever we mean with the word integration. There are two possibilities -- either your reading abilities are deteriorating rapidly or you are doing your utmost to misunderstand my words, the last possibility is a sign of malevolence.
The question how I can change your conversational skills with earplugs in must be easy to answer for you. It’s just a matter of perception.
Your idea that a person can change the world qualifies you as an idealist; if you object to this qualification I’m more than happy to declare that you are not an idealist. I’m afraid that you are just a grumbler.
Do you consider moaning and grumbling on this site therapy?
Do you mind being in the minority from time to time?
I hoped to understand your words when you ridicule mine. Unfortunately I don’t. So probably you’re right I have low reading abilities and I’m evil. Obviously I am a grumbler too. I must be and I most definitely consider my moaning and grumbling on this site therapeutic. But hey, you did manage to leave the word intelligence out of your response. Good for you!!!
In the Minority
In the specific context of our household, sometimes it annoys me when the conversation comes to be entirely in a language I don't understand well enough to speak, since I love to contribute to conversation. For that reason we try not to have too many gatherings in which nobody but Polish people are present. In conversation I often represent minority views, sometimes those of a minority of one. That I'd say I rather thrive on.