Sunday, November 14, 2010

Oh, Monolithics of Culture

This university releases crime alerts for [any?] [violent] crime that takes place. Typically, the activity happens late at night, to a student alone or in a very small group. Typically, the description of the attacker is: "tall black man wearing a hoodie." Case in point.

[Typically?] the racial tension has finally come to fruition. While the victim in this incident isn't explicitly labeled as black, one can picture that the "tall and semi-muscular" man, one of "five white males and two white females," who decided criminally to threaten the individual, was ensuring that "Mr. Scary Black Man" (thanks to the unBridge for that terminology) wouldn't rape one of the women with him. Because [ostensibly] fratboys with guns are what America needs to protect herself. Right to self-form militias and all that.

Of course the response ranges from the altruistic to the politic to the polemic.

I could go into a diatribe about race and racism, but it comes down to what the Czech dissident author Václav Havel had to say about Marxist ideology in Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia: there is a difference between class consciousness and conciousness of class. That is, there's a marked disparity between knowing how to "talk the talk and walk the walk" (or knowing what is or is not politically correct, playing into power structures of acceptance and sociability, sensibility) and actively believing in the power of those words.

In a community that so obviously does not have race consciousness, it shouldn't surprise me that the consciousness of race doesn't equate to judicious decision-making. There might not [always] be a moral judgment on the class and race statuses of individuals [although the unBridge reports that the commentary at a "Campus Safety Town Hall Meeting" proves that there is still a fair amount of that], but there nevertheless is a lack of subtlety, of empathy. It doesn't help students of color that the racist stereotype: "You are black therefore lazy therefore poor and evil and scary" has been shortened to "You are black...therefore evil and scary." The thought process is still racist. It is still ahistorical; what other motivations are driving the attack? Rather than arguing [again, as, I'm very sorry to admit, the unBridge reported was a legitimate suggestion at the Town Hall Meeting] that "those community members" be banned from bars, or that homeless people be deported on account of their homelessness, we should spend some time examining exactly what driving [historical, economical, subjective] forces are at play here.

(Edit: Find the "official" interpretation of the Town Hall Meeting on the Daily Illini website.)

(Editx2: Don't take anyone's word for it. If you have a spare two hours, watch the meeting yourself here.

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