Before I take my Sunday break, one more set of reflections: this time, on the reactions to my previous posts.
1) PEOPLE: If I say, "African-Americans face systematic racism that whites don't," it is NOT a logical refutation to fire back with "Well, I know black families that work hard and are doing just fine, so racism doesn't affect African-Americans." Or, for that matter, "I know whites who live in poverty, so that proves there's no such thing as white privilege." No, you have not disproved my point. This is known as the "exception fallacy." Look it up. Logic is a lovely thing.
If you doubt me, transfer this sort of "reasoning" into another context. "Amelia Earhart flew anywhere she wanted, so that shows that women who had good character and worked hard didn’t really suffer from sexist restrictions in the 1930s.” Doesn’t really work, does it?
2) I feel like I’ve spent a good part of my professional career patiently rejecting slippery slope arguments. And there are a lot of them in the threads below. A slippery slope argument is, “If you acknowledge systematic racism, this will all end with the abolishment of the Constitution.” Or “You must be OK with telling first graders that they’re evil because they’re white.”
No. Acknowledging systematic racism is…simply acknowledging systematic racism.
We have a responsibility to look at the past with both eyes open, because it is still with us. I’m a historian. Tracking the effects in human society of past actions is what historians DO. It is patently absurd to say that we shouldn’t “focus on the past.” Why do you think people read history? Should we stop reading about the Holocaust because, after all, it doesn’t really affect the Jewish experience in the present? Should we stop reading about the contentious history between the U.S. and Mexico because, after all, it doesn’t really affect the present lives of Hispanics who live in the Southwest? Of course not.
Looking at the past doesn’t automatically catapult us into a catastrophic chain of events that ends with the destruction of our country. I’m a little baffled over this fear of history.
(Note: I’m not denying that clumsy and overzealous teachers may have on occasion told white children that they’re guilty of being white. That doesn’t mean that acknowledging systematic racism LEADS to such an outcome. See the exception fallacy, above.)
If history shows us anything with clarity, it is that...ignoring history is much more likely to end in catastrophe than focusing on it in order to understand the present.
3) Facebook peeps who are pushing back: What are you afraid of?
There’s so much fear in the reactions below.
Do you think you’re going to lose something? What do you think you’re losing? Can you articulate it?
Nobody is coming for your houses. Nobody is demanding that I give up my farm. Hey, I’ve worked darn hard for many years to keep this farm up and running, and I’m proud of my character and hard work. Acknowledging that I got a head start doesn’t detract from that accomplishment. It’s just…honesty.
What does it take away from *you* to acknowledge that someone else started at a disadvantage that you didn’t have?
What does it take away from *you* to acknowledge that you had a head start?
Why does this threaten you?
Paul tackled this, by the way. 1 Corinthians 4:7. Go have a look.
Have a good weekend. ... See MoreSee Less
5 days ago
You ask what we are afraid of. I am not afraid (right now) of losing any material thing. However, I do fear the loss of critical thinking skills and ability to recognize complexity. If we can't do this, we will not be able to make positive and meaningful change in our society. You put forward the claim that the reason there were no black people on your flight was systemic racism. That may certainly have been a piece in the puzzle, but certainly not the only reason. We must as a society and as individuals be able to address very complicated issues like racism, injustice, education, economic opportunity, the breakdown of the family, crime rates...the list could go on an on. The pursuit of rigorous thinking and a love for truth is deeply personal as I am raising an interracial family, a family that was brought together through complicated and tragic circumstances. Simplistic arguments overlook other real and influential factors that also have a profound impact on people's lives. Simplistic arguments bring further division. I do fear the deep division that is growing in our country. If we can't talk about complicated issues and only cling to our ideologies, the gulf will continue to grow. That is worth fearing.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for continuing to address systemic racism. What does it take away from me to acknowledge systemic racism? It takes away my rose colored glasses, my blinders, and the foundation of story that justifies and shields me from the truth of racism in my white privilege. It exposes me to the knowledge of a full continuum of aggressions against POC - from micro to macro that are pervasive and historically, deeply entrenched. Once exposed to the truth, I must either see it or shore up my defenses that allow me to deny the truth and look away. Seeing means awareness that the social systems that have contributed to or allowed white success have held others down and caused them pain. This sets the stage for viewing it as a zero sum situation, where the assumption becomes that if POC are treated equally, then whites must lose something in order for that to happen. It's not far from that assumption, IMO, to believe that POC will be "given" something and to get the same thing whites will have to work even harder than they have. IMO that point where we consider it to be the zero sum situation, is a veiled acknowledgement that on some level whites are keenly aware of systemic racism and threatened by the idea of ending it.
I have 6 children—and 3 of my boys who are close to the same age are 3 different races—white, Asian and black. Every year when we go on vacations only one gets followed in gift shops. And without fail I ask hard questions to the clerk every single time. Racial bias and systemic racism stay problematic when we don’t recognize and dismantle them. And choosing to not work on them eventually puts you face to face with momma bears like me who are going to ask 100 percent of the time what made you do that. I am so exhausted as a mom but seeing posts like yours are so encouraging that other mommas are educating themselves, seeing and speaking up. Thank you.
You are probably going to lose a lot of fans because of your boldness, but I need you to know that I appreciate you. You may be planting or watering, but God will increase it. I’m tired of watching our nation walk around the same mountain refusing to repent for her sins of the past and present and not acknowledging past sins and its effects on our present. It’s biblical. It’s one of the things that’s even logical. I’m just saying I see you and I appreciate you.
Thank you so much for having this conversation in such a straight-forward and logical manner. It's refreshing! Something I'm currently trying to work out is this: My family is white and very privileged. I'm committed to examining my own privilege and confronting my own unintentional racism as well as understanding systemic racism. My children are with me on this journey and we have a lot of discussions that culminate in my sharing that I just don't know the answers...yet. And I'm super comfortable with that. I love for my childreb to see me unsure of my own knowledge and understanding and I love to model a healthy and open-minded way forward for them. Something that's come up is that my 13 yo has begun to express that she feels guilty for being white. I've been there too. I know we are good people, but it's tricky to look closely at these things and untangle how we feel about it.
A problem with “systemic racism” is that it’s a faceless enemy, similar to George W.’s “War on Terror.” “Systemic racism” is an abstraction from certain particularities, and it would be a fallacy to make universal claims from such an abstraction. Racism only truly exists where it exists in the particular—it’s only where we can actually observe it that we can combat it.
We can acknowledge that many different kinds of people have many different kinds of head starts in life. Race isn’t the only factor here. And many would say, even many black scholars, from across the ideological spectrum, that race isn’t even a major factor here.
I’ve noticed many comments referring to systemic racism, but you are consistently discussing systematic racism. I’m getting stuck on the difference between “systematic” and “systemic”. So far, this is what I can glean from my research: 1. Systematic racism is planned/intentional within a system. 2. Systemic racism is so pervasive that the parts of the system might not even be aware of it. 3. I’m still learning.
Could we have a discussion around what CRT *actually* is sometime? I hear lots of comments across the internet where people use this term, conflating it with recent works around antiracism. It makes me wonder if we are all talking about the same thing when CRT is being discussed.
I think that there are definitely people responding in fear. And in following Jesus we dont need to fear a thing if we are in him. I think it's worth the conversations bc we dont fight against men...we fight a supernatural evil that will use either side of ANY argument or thesis to drag down the people trying to follow Jesus. So...with this as every other ideological or political or human topic of contention we all need to die to ourselves, be humble as we can and realize we dont fight each other. That really does mean every one of us. No caveat. I'm struggling daily myself but remembering we are NOT fighting each other and being Humble in our own lack of full knowledge eases the need to win arguments on any side.
I appreciate you insight and wisdom. Keep writing, keep sharing. The "burrying my head in the sand" mentality of people in this country is baffling...but nothing is new under the sun. We need more voices such as yourself. Please, dont stop.
I appreciate you so much, Susan. Now that I read your Facebook posts, I am even more glad that I used your history and language books when I homeschooled my children. Keep fighting the good fight. It *is* possible to open people’s eyes and hearts and change their minds. ❤️
I just wanted to say that I applaud you and sincerely appreciate your mental labor on these posts. In all honesty, we started homeschooling 3 years ago because we were tired of the white washed hero language of our schools in rural Georgia. We don’t fit in what many see as “homeschoolers” here, because we don’t teach from traditional homeschool conservative texts and we focus more on social justice issues, and learning the truth using primary sources. Thru that journey, we have lost a lot of friends/family that disagree with us. But seeing you use your platform to educate about privilege and systemic racism is inspiring. It makes us feel supported. Thank you.
Susan Wise Bauer Your points are excellent. I think many can agree with you, mostly, and still be concerned that their children are being labeled, targeted and segregated from birth. CRT seems (just my opinion) to be causing a deep and radical divide that could much more effectively be addressed with the gospel, and it’s healing powers. The source of the philosophy is concerning, and not the important history we should be remembering and not repeating. I doubt anyone who follows you would question the importance of knowing and teaching history. Teaching shame, on a regular basis, is not the same thing. It may not be inaccurate, but it is damaging to children and society to craft a national narrative around negativity. Primarily, I don’t want you to believe that all the parents who have benefited from your books are standing around with their heads in the sand, denying that racism exists. I, for one, believe that individuals form a better society when we are accountable for our own actions, and not those of others. That doesn’t mean I don’t think discussing difficult history isn’t important. Another reason why I always hated group projects in school. 😆 They have their purpose, but they are highly discouraging to most independent thinkers. There is a middle ground I’m not seeing in your comments, but I firmly believe quietly exists.
Thank you Susan for so boldly taking a stance & explaining the problem so clearly. Much of your audience is in denial of the issue at hand & I pray their hearts will be softened.
Thank you for explaining this so well. Some of us have known this, but have had trouble articulating it, so this is helpful!
Fear is a useful tactic, though. Ain’t it? Thanks for your words, SWB. Appreciate you.
You continue to tackle this topic with thoughtful, well reasoned bravery. I hope the audience is listening. Thank you for this articulation.
You mean systemic racism AND white poverty can exist together? Logic - it’s so crazy!
Susan, I continue to appreciate your willingness to risk your "brand" and have these messy conversations. My husband and I, like many Black homeschooling families, chose homeschooling due, in large part, to systemic racism in education. This is very much an intersectional and critical issue for us. Thank you for raising your voice within the homeschooling community. It is a necessary dialogue.
You are seriously out here doing the important work as an ally, using your platform for good. I’ve talked for years about how much I love SOTW because of its broad perspective and historical honesty, and this past year I have learned that that is because of YOUR perspective and YOUR honesty coming through. Thank you!
I just finished reading “The Sum of Us” by Heather McGhee in which she explains how so many whites have been fed a line about the roots of racist practices lying in the presentation of the situation as a zero sum game—-if you get more, i get less. But in reality, everyone loses. Example: cities that closed public pools rather than integrate.
As a white male (63) who was raised in a middle class home, I can assure anyone here that I have never been subjected to the scrutiny that my brown/black friends and coworkers experience on a regular basis. My eyes were opened about three years ago when three African American friends were discussing being given "the talk" by their parents and grandparents to try to insure that they would not be jailed or shot dead when the police inevitably stopped them. I have a coworker who is college educated and has a six figure income, but is still stopped by police an average of once or twice a year for small trivial reasons. I have never experienced this, nor has my son or my male relatives. This is known as white privilege. It doesn't make me bad for being white, just very very lucky when it comes to how I will be treated socially and legally.
THANK YOU!!! I am baffled by the push-back. Don't people want to understand the world better, examine history so that we have a better chance to not repeat the bad stuff, rather than bury their heads in the sand?
I think it is just inherent intellectual dishonesty or the desire for self preservation that makes them push back. We all know people who cannot self-reflect personally. Perhaps they cannot do it on this level either. Plus, as the scales fall from your eyes, maybe it stings a little to admit that you may not have had help, but you did not have hindrance.
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More Than 1 Million Students Didn't Enroll During the Pandemic. Will They Come Back?
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An often-overlooked challenge to the SBC.
"According to a recent poll by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, nearly a third of white evangelical Christian Republicans — 31 percent — believe in the accuracy of the QAnon claim..."
My newly-retired husband is actually attending a horse show with me this weekend. Mostly he's feeding my mare cookies in an attempt to establish horse cred (i.e., so that she won't kill him when I ask him to hold her for her bath).