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Dehumanizing or Infantilizing?

Do you feel better when someone treats you like a three-year-old? Do you feel better when someone treats you as incapable of being stupid, ugly, weak or wrong? Human beings can be smart or dumb, or both, but to tell someone they’re incapable of enjoying and suffering the same foibles as the rest of their species because of their skin color is to think so poorly of them as to be incapable of handling the ordinary reality that others endure. Do you really think that little of black people?

At @UBC, the faculty email signiatures now contain random rhapsodies about the amazingness of black ppl. This one is more than twice as long as the indigenous land acknowledgment that preceded it. (Apparently, UBC has had a problem with black people being *apologetically* black)

In a weird sense, it’s the old Saturday Night Live joke with Stuart Smally about daily affirmations, except it’s not a joke and it’s proffered by the University of British Columbia.

And lest one shrug and believe this is merely some Canadian nonsense, consider the glossary of DEI appropriate language at Harvard.

Why anyone would need to be told they should “unapologetically” be who they are is unclear. But to believe that anyone needs to treated as if they’re a blubbering infant sniveling in the corner until someone rubs their tummy is absurd. There are smart black people and less smart black people, just as there are with every other race of people, because we are all people and people can be smart or not.

And it’s not enough to tolerate such nonsense without pointing out its ridiculousness or offensiveness, because “silence is consent,” meaning that if you don’t parrot the narrative word for word, you hold yourself out as a racist. Now you know it, and silence means that you’ve chosen racism over anti-racism. Whether that means you should walk up to random black people and tell them they’re beautiful and brilliant is unclear, but what is clear is that failure to do as commanded leaves no doubt as to where you are in the binary of anti-racist and racist.

Does this help black people? Does this help anyone?

If the purpose is to eradicate the legacy of racism, then lavishing people with empty and foolish praise won’t give them the skills or opportunity to succeed. If someone believes they need this to feel “welcome” or “valued,” then they’re suffering from problems no university can cure.

Black people are human beings. As good as, and as bad as, as beautiful and as ugly, as smart and as stupid, as any other human beings. Treating them like idiot children doesn’t make them good, smart and beautiful, and at best lowers the expectation the world has of them and they should have of themselves. Are these “random rhapsodies” dehumanizing or infantilizing? Why not both?

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