We hold these truths to be self-evident … kinda

This NPR story is making the rounds among my friends on Facebook. I ignored the first couple of posts but, sigh, it just keeps coming. So here’s what I have to say, using this:

Now, most people might argue such favoritism is harmless, but Banaji and Greenwald think it might actually explain a lot about the modern United States, where vanishingly few people say they hold explicit prejudice toward others but wide disparities remain along class, and gender lines.

The two psychologists have revolutionized the scientific study of prejudice …

NPR, What Does Modern Prejudice Look Like?

Revolutionized? Seriously? For whom?

I learned this in Gender Studies 101, which was a LONG TIME AGO, if you’re guessing. I cannot believe that this is presented as revolutionary research, when feminists, for example, have long pointed out that the Old Boys Network thrives, in part, because men choose from the peers that surround them. They don’t have to be so bold to say “we reject women” when it’s more a “what women? I don’t see any here” issue.

That’s why, when people decry the presence of an -ism, the approach is to ask them to NOT look at their personal choices, but to look at the AGGREGATE of personal choices that result in a systemic privileging of one group over another. It’s not about whether you, one “good” white person for example, display racist behaviors, but whether the sum total of the choices you make and your peers make and your bosses make and your political representatives make end up repeatedly in people of color earning less, suffering more, not being represented in Congress, etc.

The statistics proving the disparities are there, so you are either part of it or you believe there’s some super powerful evil bunch of who are controlling you and all your peers to achieve the same -ist result. Either way, you’re not doing much about it, are you?

white boy with knapsack, 1930
It’s working for him, even if he doesn’t know it.

That’s why, too, the “that’s racist/sexist/-istist!” assertion helps no one. If everyone is waiting to call out the OBVIOUS — the KKK-style racism and the “make me a sammich” sexism — the SUBTLE continues to undo us all, serving only to give some a pat on the back for not being AS -IST AS.

Here’s your invisible knapsack … repacked and unpacked for your revolutionary enjoyment. Gag.

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