Obsession with anything is unhealthy. It warps the mind. It causes tunnel vision, which is sad because the world wasn’t meant to be seen through a pin-prick lens.

Take Jennifer Harvey of Drake University, for instance. Her recent piece in The Huffington Post, titled “For Whites (Like Me): On White Kids,” is a great example of what happens to a mind obsessed with race.

In short, Ms. Harvey is concerned that a.) white parents aren’t talking to their kids early enough about race and b.) white parents are filling their kids’ heads with useless platitudes.

Time and again, my white students write that “everybody’s equal” is the “most important” thing their parents taught them about race. Time and again, a not-insignificant number of them then proceed to describe their present trepidation about a.) telling their parents they date interracially; b.) bringing home a Latino/a or black classmate; c.) Thanksgiving break, when everyone will silently tolerate the family member who makes racist comments; or d.) something else that reveals how deeply and clearly these students know this “most important teaching” doesn’t mean a hell of a lot to their actual white experience. …

Liberal, conservative, or moderate, whites interviewed insist they don’t see color only to say something overtly anti-black/brown/etc. mere moments later. Incoherence is, apparently, pervasive in white culture. But, even if we’re assuredly not the parents who convey negative views of interracial dating, there is urgency here. We must figure out what these findings — Nurture Shock’s and my own — mean for how we talk (and don’t and should talk) to white kids. …

Imagine the conversations that may have taken place between parents and their black or Latino/a children after Trayvon Martin was killed and George Zimmerman walked. I’d be willing to bet that pat answers were nowhere in site.

This thought experiment doesn’t give us the content, but it does show us the standard for the caliber of conversation required of us. If we want our white children to live in a world with more racial justice than the one we live in now, we need to figure out how to have conversations with them as real, thick, painful, resilient, strategic and authentic as the conversations those parents had to have. So that our kids can help build that world.

Did it ever occur to Ms. Harvey that one of the reasons white kids tend to give college professors politically correct platitudes is because politically correct professors (like Ms. Harvey) have made having real conversations on race nearly impossible? Are white kids incapable of honestly discussing race, or is it just the kind of white kids who willingly sign up for courses where they are shamed for an entire semester?

In Jennifer Harvey’s world every year is apparently 1861, so I will do her the favor of explaining a healthier way of interpreting the world around her as it pertains to race relations:

  • Morons exist. They will always exist. So the question becomes: “Do enough morons exist to prevent person ‘x’ from pursuing their dreams and generally succeeding through hard work, smart life choices and perseverance? In the U.S., the answer is ‘no.’ Whether you think you can or think you can’t in the U.S. — you’re right.

When I was in the military, I had great relationships with men of all colors — men I would gladly have died for. When I went to college I encountered women like Ms. Harvey, who said I was “subconsciously racist.” In life you find what you’re looking for, and if you’re always looking for evidence the world is out to get you the universe will provide it for you. Ms. Drake looks for evidence that “incoherence is prevalent” in white people, and so she finds it. She looks for “overtly anti-black” comments, and finds them. My guess is that no race has a monopoly on incoherence and no race has a monopoly on morons, but perhaps that’s just my own white incoherence talking.

Neale Donald Walsch (who I have plenty of disagreements with) puts it rather well in this case:

“Which snowflake is the most magnificent? Is it possible that they are all magnificent — and that, celebrating their magnificence together they create an awesome display? Then they melt into each other, and into the Oneness. Yet they never go away. They never disappear. They never cease to be. Simply, they change form. And not just once, but several times: from solid to liquid, from liquid to vapor, from the seen to the unseen, to rise again, and then again to return in new displays of breathtaking beauty and wonder. This is Life, nourishing Life,” (Communion with God).

As tough as it is for most college professors to comprehend, guys like me see all individuals as spiritual beings of light — manifested into their physical bodies on this plane of existence by the grace of God. Why would I have conversations with my child about “racial justice” when spiritual clarity is what is really needed? Do I want my child to be mired in petty politics and tit-for-tat race debates, or do I want him to transcend it all and be more in tune with his higher self? The answers to those questions are self evident.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

8 comments

  1. If there’s one thing that I dislike just as much as the race hustlers, it’s guilt-ridden white liberals like Harvey who see everything through a racial lense. I had a couple of professors like that as college. I see people as people, not as categories. I have a MLK-like view of race relations: judge people by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin, but unfortunately people seem to think being color-blind is anathema and that you have to put everyone into a category and “take their oppressed history” into account.

    1. Good points, Carl. These professors often have a weird self-loathing and spend years trying to get other kids to adopt the same psychology. I’m glad that the guilt inculcation didn’t work on you.

      In the real world (as opposed to the cloistered confines of the teachers lounge), the vast majority of people do not care about race. They care about hard work. They care about honesty. They care about work ethic and attitude. I’ve worked with people from all walks of life and from all different backgrounds, and skin pigmentation is the last thing I care about. If someone kicks butt at the job and comes into work every day with a positive attitude, I’m cool with them. If they come in unprepared and make excuses for their failures, then we might have some problems.

      Most of the time, these people can’t even define racism — or they come up with “invisible” privileges that only enlightened college professors and race baiters can see. Conveniently, it works out well for their wallets.

    2. I could see right through the nonsense they were spewing in class, and was pretty much the only one who had the temerity to question what they were saying. They didn’t take it very well, but I never wavered from my beliefs. Indeed, there are a lot of teachers out there who wish to indoctrinate, rather than teach, their students, and that’s sad.

      I’ve never cared about race. I care about hard work, honesty, that sort of thing. I’ve worked with and gotten along with different people of different races and backgrounds just fine, and never did the subject of race come up. I also hate it when people make excuses for failures and blame someone else for their problems rather than admit to their own imperfections.

      And I remember that “Unfair Campaign” about “white privilege.” That was a joke. There’s no such thing as white privilege. Plus, I remember how the idiotic Unfair Campaign put up a billboard in my state- specifically, up in Duluth, on Lake Superior- and generally acted like immature kindergarteners because apparently Duluth’s demographics weren’t to their liking or some such nonsense; not surprisingly, the billboard was near the University of Minnesota: Duluth. I think the billboard was eventually taken down.

    3. Ouch….I teach my classes to look beyond petty colors. I recently had my class come up with strategic plans to fix Detroit. The very students that said Bill O’reilly was a racist found the same problems and methods to fix the problems as he identified. I then asked them, if he is a racist and you have found Detroit to have the same problems and believe in the same things to fix it are you a racist or a hypocrite?
      They found that once they focus on a label they tend to lose track of the issue. They also realized that sometimes the truth hurts.
      I would also recommend looking into Jon Kitna he has a nice story.

      http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nfl–former-nfl-qb-jon-kitna-finds-%E2%80%98gold-mine%E2%80%99-at-a-school-where-other-teachers-only-saw-problems-194739063.html

    4. Thanks for sharing this, Truthwillwin1. Good stuff!

      I wish more professors were like you. Sadly, the vast majority of them that I encountered at USC and American University were more aligned with Ms. Harvey.

    5. I am sad to say but I must agree that the majority are aligned with the ignorant views of ones such as Ms. Harvey.
      When will they learn that all they are doing is causing a bigger rift.
      I walk away in sadness knowing that I can have a more intelligent and in depth conversation with a child than I can have with Al Sharpton on race. I also can have a more productive discussion with college students on correcting our economic and social environment than our current leadership.
      Sad…just sad.

  2. The liberal obsession with race is at least partly because liberalism is based on collectivism. Conservatives and libertarians think in terms of individuals. Liberals are all about The Group. Everyone must be categorized in one group or another, and rights and duties are allocated accordingly. Liberals cannot grasp the concept of individuals, so they don’t understand when you talk about one person, or a small group. You say, “Willie Horton should not have been paroled.” The liberal hears, “All black people should be in prison.” You criticize Obama, and the liberal hears you say, “All blacks are unfit for public office.” You say, “Maybe Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman, and maybe the shooting was in self-defense.” The liberal hears, “All blacks deserve to get shot.” Of course, it applies to non-racial issues, too. You criticize Hillary Clinton and the liberal thinks you hate all women. You say Carol Burnett is funnier than Rosie O’ Donnell, and the leftist hears, “I hate gay people.” It’s also about projection. Liberals accuse their opponents of racism, sexism, homophobia, and prejudice. That’s because they prejudge everyone based on race or sex, and they assume that you do, too.

    1. Tom,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and respond. I chuckled quite a few times with your examples; you’re spot on with your “individual” vs. “collective” analysis.

      Again, thanks for adding to the discussion. I really appreciate it.

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