Saturday, November 23, 2013

For anyone who thinks we live in a post-racial society …

Fourth SJSU student charged in alleged hate crime case

For the record, I grew up in San Jose. It’s definitely a “minority-majority” town. Asians, Latinos, Indians, African-Americans, and European immigrants all abide. But San Jose doesn’t celebrate its stunning cultural diversity – it actually takes it for granted.

I would argue that diversity in the newsroom is generally a good thing, but it’s obvious that the presence of other races doesn’t necessarily prevent racism. (White students only account for a quarter of SJSU’s population.) The media has presented a multitude of perspectives on minority cultures, and while these articles are often applauded, they are also met with angry comments made by (presumably) white men. (Read the bottom of the SJSU article if you don’t believe me. Or don’t. Spare yourself the aneurysm.) White men are tired of narratives where minorities are presented as the victim. It’s infuriating that they have the audacity to feel “excluded” at all (they are not, and never will be, a marginalized group of people), but it’s possible that these types of articles simply point too many fingers.

P.S. – Yeah, I know, I’m blowing up the blog. Sorry, guys. It’s easier than writing a research paper.


....J.Michael Robertson said...

Gary Kamiya, one of the Salon founders, came to Ethics some years ago and - among other things - said he did not read the comments section for any of his articles and advised other writers not to. He said it depressed him too profoundly - too much stuff right from the id. People don't like losing unearned privilege. As for the specifics of the San Jose incident, it would take a 10,000 word feature story to unpack. Who are these guys? What were they thinking? How much racism was at work and how much ignorance and brutishness? That's one thing journalism can sometimes do, explaining how the unthinkable was not.

Susan White said...

I would love to read a single comment where the perpetrators even made some attempt to explain what they did. I’ve heard it said that to explain any problem of this magnitude is to explain the problem away, which is an ethical dilemma in and of itself. I disagree. I don’t think analysis is the same as making excuses. I want to understand what happened and how this can be prevented in the future.

I just realized my post made me appear somewhat prejudiced toward white men. That is not my intention. It’s possible that some of those SJSU commenters were not Caucasian. (Bigotry has never been exclusively white.) But you’re right, it’s not good for read the comments section of any article having to do with race. It doesn’t exactly preserve one’s hope in humanity.