Classroom Anecdote 3: White Privilege Narrative as Religion

In one of the earlier discussions of my Cultural Marxism 101 class (euphemistically named “Intercultural Communications”), the chubby Latina teacher was telling us about how ‘white privilege’ can make one “at best, thoughtless and at worst, murderous.”  To accomplish this, she went over the findings of a study which apparently showed that black people and Hispanic children were given less pain medication by doctors.  When I asked if the doctors were all white, she said it doesn’t matter if they were or not since these doctors have internalized the hegemonic white supremacy that is all around us.  (Sounds kinda unfalsifiable….)  She didn’t bother providing any further details for the poor minorities being denied paid medication – no mention if, for example, the Hispanic children were illegal aliens.  If they were, what right do they have to top tier healthcare in a foreign land anyway?  This would of course be paid for by us, their gracious host.  Much like Classroom Anecdote 1, we are again seeing someone looking at some phenomenon and deciding racism is the answer for an outcome.  (Come to think of it, this is also apparent in Classroom Anecdote 2.)

She buttressed the supposed racist finding of this study with another obnoxious interpretation of another phenomenon – again, without providing the college students that make up her class a copy of the study.  She described how some researchers showed to a subject a photo of a black person and a white person and asked which one they thought would feel less pain.  Both white and black subjects faced with this question would pick the black person, saying that blacks would feel less pain.  Again, racist white people apparently don’t care about others or empathize with them (then why do we open our countries to hordes of third-worlders?) and again, black people have internalized white supremacy, leading to them devaluing themselves.

I don’t think anybody would find such an outcome from such a study to be surprising.  Let’s run a quick analogical thought experiment: let’s switch out blacks and whites and replace them with men and women.  Who do you, dear reader, think would feel less pain?  Presumably men would feel less pain.  Does this mean we don’t value men?  Does this mean we think they are animals?  Not at all.  And as we learned earlier in this class, men are oppressive and all of society benefits them.  Hmmm, kind of a wrench in the gears here….

I pushed back in class and said that there are perfectly understandable reasons for why people would think that blacks would feel less pain.  For the white subjects, we could assume that they feel closer to the white people in the photos.  Even babies identify with and prefer people of their own race more than others, so why shouldn’t an adult feel more compassion for someone more similar to them?  As for the blacks, well, black people in general have more testosterone than whites and higher testosterone levels are related to a higher pain threshold.  This second point alone would explain why both blacks and whites would think that black people would feel less pain than whites.  If anything, this study shows that people generally think that white people are weaker than blacks, not that blacks don’t feel pain – the implication being that therefore, they are less than whites and perhaps should be used as slaves, I guess.  (Has there been an experiment asking Arabs if they think blacks or Arabs feel less pain?)

But alas, in the classroom, I was only able to make it to “also, blacks have higher levels of testosterone” before being cut off.  “Or maybe it’s systemic racism…” my neighbor interjected with a snotty upspeak so typical of a college feminist.  “Ah yes,” I said, “that’s the ‘correct’ answer.”

As things moved on, I couldn’t stop replaying the exchange in my head.  It was so weird to see the dogmatism on display like that.  Here I am questioning the narrative (something one would think is encouraged in a university setting) when I am cut off and essentially shut down by an unattractive, slightly overweight white girl parroting the talking points of the indoctrinator.  Very eerie indeed.  I felt like I was in a Koran study group and while someone is questioning how man came to be in his present form, they are shut down by someone yelling “It was Allah!  Allah is behind everything!  If you don’t believe it’s because he has made it that way!”  From the Koran: “Those who disbelieve – it being alike to them whether thou warn them or not – they will not believe.  Allah has sealed their hearts and their hearing; and there is a covering on their eyes, and for them is a grievous chastisement” (2: 5-6).  Unfalsifiable.  Evil.  Creepy.

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