Our Betters Solve Our Problems
Friday Ephemera

Don’t Oppress My People With The Way You Walk

From the world of campus wokescolds, where innovation never ends

The opinion editor of the Northwestern University’s student newspaper recently published an article asserting that white people walk awkwardly on sidewalks because of their internalised racism. 

The editor, Kenny Allen, who is black, is quite confident on this point.

Laying out the claims by University of Richmond sociologist Bedelia Richards for determining “whether one’s university is racist” -- such as which groups feel most “at home,” whose “norms, values and perspectives” are legitimated, and “who inhabits positions of power” -- Allen concluded that “White people” meet most of the criteria. 

A shocking twist. Feel free to gasp.

You see

People at this predominantly White school would not move out of our way on the sidewalk. This was one of many reminders that diversity does not mean inclusion at NU.

Sadly, and perhaps oddly, no particulars or examples are offered to support this claim. Despite the alleged ubiquity, Mr Allen shares no damning anecdotes of obstinate white people failing to accommodate the brown and downtrodden-by-default. Apparently, we are to accept as obvious, as beyond question, that any such failures of politeness and spatial reciprocation are exclusively the fault of white people, on account of their being white, and therefore oppressive. Indeed, we’re told that pavement users of pallor are actually re-enacting “the rules of Jim Crow,” which “required Black people to yield to White people whenever possible.”  

Many White people walk around campus having unknowingly absorbed this particular facet of White supremacy, and the leaders of the institution do little to make us believe that White supremacy is something worth challenging in the first place.

That the cultivation of a chippy, racially paranoid attitude may itself increase the likelihood of pavement collisions and general frustration, and be a self-reinforcing phenomenon, is a possibility that has seemingly eluded Mr Allen, who instead directs his energies to bemoaning the “violent feedback” to his pronouncements. A violence that includes gentle mockery and, it would appear, demurral of any kind.

Readers who now feel an urge to rethink how they walk on pavements - in order to inhibit their seething racism and dreams of racial dominion – should, however, temper any hope of overcoming their innate wickedness:  

This is not to say that giving people space in public is a way to be anti-racist;

But of course. Damnation is eternal.

the sidewalk question is just one way in which Black people are made to feel unwelcome. This is to say that essentially every aspect of our society, including the way we physically move through space, has been shaped by a racist legacy. Uprooting that White supremacy requires both recognising its scale and disrupting it however it shows up. 

Yes, first we must disrupt walking, and then everything else.

Update, via the comments:

Readers may wish to ponder the ways in which victimhood, even laughably pretentious victimhood, can be flattering and seductive to a certain kind of person. For instance, the temptations of victimhood as a ready-made identity, an all-purpose excuse, not least for the young and credulous on a modern campus. Say, on a campus where tuition is a mere $78,000 a year, where those sufficiently brown are favoured in admissions, and where a pantomime of being oppressed confers a certain leverage and unearned deference, albeit from those equally pretentious.

Having been mocked for his unargued assertions and casual racism, Mr Allen is now complaining that people, presumably white ones, “don’t want to engage” with his unargued assertions and casual racism. The truth of his claims is, he says, “obvious.” An attitude that would, I suppose, explain the lack of evidence or any reciprocal standard, and the apparent disregard for any expectation of such. However, perhaps a few atoms of sympathy are in order. It occurs to me that if your immediate environment is one in which race-based claims aren’t subject to challenge or scepticism, even when sweeping and rather dubious, it must be quite unnerving to encounter these things for the first time.