Monday, February 18, 2013

The Real 3/5th's Compromise: The President of Emory Simply Doesn't Care About People Like You

We have not had a "real talk" moment in quite some time. James Wagner, the President of Emory University's suggestion that the 3/5th's compromise was noble, necessary, and an example of good governance to be admired, is an appropriate moment to share some uncomfortable truths.

Wagner's comments have attracted a good amount of attention. For many, it is shocking that an accomplished man of letters would so unapologetically "white wash" the history of slavery in the United States.

Yes, those of us who are are students of American history should be offended by a flattening of the historical record, and a very sympathetic view of the nobility of white elites in counting black slaves as less than a full person in the service of maintaining an ignoble institution.

I understand all of those sentiments.

Here is the painful reality that many of those in the out-group, the less than privileged, the Other, the marginalized, and the like have not yet figured out: James Wagner does not care about you. His comments on slavery were not a personal dig, stab, or barb. Black folks, our legacy, personhood, and the like are quite simply not choices on the cognitive decision tree of men like him.

You/we/us are footnotes and outliers.

People of color--and likely women, gays and lesbians, the "disabled", and other folks who are not "normal" by the narrow definitions of hetero-normative, able-bodied, Whiteness--are also non-factors in the worlds of the truly race and class privileged in American society.

You/we/us spend much energy on these matters; They spend little to none at all.

I know that hurts. Privilege has, well for lack of a better turn of phrase, its own privileges.

It is best to accept such facts if you are to wage battle effectively on their terrain.

I will double down. The real damage done by colorblind and institutional racism in the post civil rights era is that seemingly race neutral decisions about policy and related matters are done with a calculi which ignores how said decisions will impact the life chances of people of color.

Here, the White Supremacists, the caricatures who make convenient bogeymen and women, are easy targets.

Why? Because they actually think about black and brown people a great deal. Moreover, those who are classic bigots are oddly obsessed with non-whites. There is a certain deep intimacy that comes with racism. It is love, fascination, and hate all rolled up into one ball.

The movers and shakers, the shot callers who have the ability to impact policy in ways that hurt the Other, do not usually care one iota about the latter. The privileged are not bad people, per se. The Other is simply not on their radar. For this reason, the elite--the top tier of the in-group--are so dangerous precisely because of an ability to sleep well at night because said agents can tell themselves that they are race neutral and good people, despite how their decision-making hurts those not in their circle.

Trust me, James Wagner is legitimately surprised by the reaction to his comments. In his eyes, he made a self-evident and obvious observation about American history. The apology is necessary for reasons of realpolitik and professional peace.

If you want to start playing that 3d Star Trek chess on these matters of race, politics, and justice in the Age Obama, it is essential that you start thinking about the agents who do the work of impersonal and institutional inequality not as demons or villains, but as self-interested actors.

Again, they are not "bad people." They simply do not care about about people like you. The privileged classes are possessed of narcissism. The disadvantaged are also possessed of narcissism too, as they think that the broader world ought to take them into account. Sadly, it does not.


Anonymous said...

This sum is deducted out of your account fund[url=]cheap wedding dresses[/url]
Your placement from the look for motor success web site depends to the look for motor. For Google, the placement is decided by your bid price tag along with the ads click-through activity. As a product sales specialist, your expectations have an effect on fact. I recently came across a video called, "What the Bleep Do we Know?" It describes how our views and intentions shape our fact. Should you havent observed the video, I urge you [url=]cheap wedding dresses[/url]
do so.A further illustration is HPs The pc is Personal All over again campaign. They used a lot of varieties of media with good consistency, and capitalized on every on the medias person strength[url=]cheap wedding dresses[/url]
Television shared real-life tales, print comprehensive a lot of in the exact same stories and on-line prolonged every in[url=]cheap wedding dresses[/url]
a positive practical experience with which the client could interact with HP.
Although youre during the lobby waiting to your table, you strike up a conversation together with the gentleman sitting following [url=]cheap wedding dresses[/url]
you and understand he's the perfect client for your services or products. You hook him and he bite[url=]cheap wedding dresses[/url]
He desires [url=]discount wedding dresses[/url]
buy. If you're an avid admirer of various tv programs, in all probability in addition, you have observed distinct types of merchandise flashed with your tv display in between the program that you are viewing. While it's frustrating with your element that there are unwanted interruptions when you are looking at your preferred software, you can not do nearly anything about this. As numerous will say, it truly is component from the tv networks programming routine.

Daniel Goldberg said...

Brilliant. A top 10 WARN classic, for sure. This is at least part of what white privilege is all about, IMO -- the invisibility of the Other.

The Sanity Inspector said...

Not altogether unrelated: You may enjoy this roundup of predictions from 1900, on The Future Of The Negro, from an Atlanta University study edited by W.E.B. DuBois. I can't figure out how to permalink the exact page, so just click the little blue Next link in the frame until you come to it.

Frank said...

Well said.

Thank you for continually broadening my perspective.

chauncey devega said...

top ten. you make me blush. are those your shoes under my bed? had to make the devil's advocate joke. thanks, felt this one from the heart as much of the overreaction is missing out on some basic matters...the pres of emory and others just don't care!

he ain't a bad guy. just doing his work. it ain't personal.

I don't understand why so many people don't get that fact?

chauncey devega said...

we try. do chime in. not saying anything that others far smarter have not.

chauncey devega said...

cool! I will definitely check that out. good stuff.

RBGmachine said...

I actually had a somewhat similar conversation in my History of Modern Imperialism class just this evening. The topic of discussion was 'why don't we remember the atrocities committed in the Congo ca.1890-1910?' Included in that question are all the black/brown/yellow/whatever peoples who suffered similarly e.g. the Herero peoples.

I argued that the dominate Western/White culture just doesn't care about what happened to the various non-Whites. The story of the other just doesn't matter, or in your words, isn't on the radar. I wasn't saying that every Western/White person was/is racist, but rather that the cultural narrative that shapes our interests and understanding has implicit racism built into it. Needless to say, it wasn't the most popular argument.

This is very troubling. If knowing the story of the "other" isn't enough to change minds, actions, and understandings, then what will? How do we bridge these issues to build new understandings in the broader society when we can barely do it in a classroom?

Paul Sunstone said...

I might be made to understand why Wagner would call the 3/5ths
compromise "necessary", but noble? What's so noble about basing your
political power on the claim you are representing people that you
actually refuse to represent?

adept2u said...

I still got the same problem with you I've always had Chauncey. You say just about everything and so well I don't have room to commment. Let me just say Amen, that was a hard truth put very convincingly.

chauncey devega said...

Always room to add more insight. Do share. You are the chorus. What are your thoughts?

The Sanity Inspector said...

The topic of discussion was 'why don't we remember the atrocities committed in the Congo ca.1890-1910?'

The answer is, we do.

SabrinaBee said...

I want to say we do get it. We know we aren't in their framework of relating. We see that unless it is one of us with spectacular ability, we essentially go unnoticed. I think the general idea is to "make" them notice but, that's not the same as caring. And why should they, when they know that we exist inside the structures that they built? All that is relevant to our modern world has them at the helm. Every decision/idea/act that has gone into making this country has happened as a result of how it relates to them. Every "official" history is recorded in how it relates to what they choose to make known. They get to say that this is the greatest experiment in civilization because they've ensured that none other stands a chance of success. Each aspect that is accepted confirms this. If you believe that the Constitution is the greatest works since the cavemen paintings, how can you not accept that the 3/5ths compromise is a part of that?

Constructive_Feedback said...

Mr DeVega:

I thought that you were not "like the others" with respect to "Intellectual Honesty".

The Emory President - like Ronald Reagan who went to Philly MS - 16 years after the murder - FAILED TO CONDEMN what YOU WANTED HIM TO CONDEMN and thus he ran awry to your expectations.


In this "Django Historical Consciousness" THE ASSUMPTION is that one side were RACIST SLAVERS and the other side was pissed that no Blacks were allowed to be seated as signatories to the US Constitution.

EVEN most ABOLITIONISTS were WHITE SUPREMACISTS - so I struggle to understand how your "outrage" over the Emory President has anything to do with the actual historical event but instead is exclusive to your present "normative assumptions".

Where am I wrong?

Constructive_Feedback said...

[quote]I argued that the dominate Western/White culture just doesn't care about what happened to the various non-Whites.[/quote]

RBG Machine:

TO-DAMNED-DAY we have Black people saying "Obama Ended Two Wars - And We Are Pleased!!!"

Did you hear the recent news that NATO will maintain its troop levels in Afghanistan past the promised 2014 exit AND the United States will pay $5 Billion of the $6.3 billion to fund this?
Less American bodies but the money remains in place.

Do you think that "The Black Press" is going to report this any differently than the "Mainstream Press"?

Why do you limit you analysis to "The Dominate White Culture"?

chauncey devega said...

You are fun. He talked about that "compromise" made on the backs of people who ostensibly you have a connection to in noble terms. His observations were also a bit ahistorical and a bad, very bad read of history.

I think you project alot. I am not outraged over anything. You confuse me with the low level racism chasers who believe such things. My point here was exactly the opposite. I live in the real world. Silly folks who got upset over the pres of emory should understand they ain't even on his radar.

Are you going to take my advice and go get a radio show or do a Youtube series? I think you could really make it happen. Would be very entertaining with all those charts and such. Do it!

Constructive_Feedback said...

Here is my view - My Dear Friend Mr DeVega -

Metro-Atlanta is a hot bed of "stray distress signals".

FOR ME - I take massive sampling of the large world around me in order to define the "4 corners of the universe" - then I make observations of the corner that various people occupy.

Those who PURPORT to be "Defending The Black Community From Assault" - are of particular interest to me.

Emory - in Atlanta - has a President that "offended them".

FINE. Lets take the worst case scenario that he DID think that slavery was a "worthy institution" in order to "Repurpose The African". (I am not saying that you said this about the Prez. I am saying this)

It is when we stack rank that "offense" and the time that is invested in emoting about it - against:

1) The 73% Black Dekalb County School board is in a fight about its accreditation. The Black media is reeving up to make this a battle against the 'State Republicans' rather than noting that EVEN BLACK PEOPLE are exiting the Dekalb County Schools BUT ARE NOT going to stand up to the "Civil Rights Pharisees" as they redefine the issue as "an attack"

2) The "Serial Murders" of Black people around the Metro goes on. Someone is likely to get Murdered as the guardians leave their posts and go to Sanford to honor "Trayvon" but no one will say they were derelict

3) Southwest Atlanta Medical Center will have NO BLACK BABIES being slapped OR any White racists demanding that no "Black hands" touch him or his family. IT REMAINS CLOSED!!

My challenge to you, Mr DeVega - is to project forward into the time and space where the "Demographics are favorable" to your present interests BUT that ideological base IS the "Establishment That Is Failing To Provide Social Justice".

Can the present level of discipline and focus on "appeasement and 'engineered outrage' provide the discontented masses with what they had been longing for just prior to the "balance being tipped"?

Will Chauncey DeVega be an "Anti-Establishment man - still?

No plans for a live media career.
The WORST thing about the American media culture is that it prefers "drive by shooting" debates squeezed into "space between the commercial breaks". CORPORATE OWNED MEDIA IS STILL "CORPORATE OWNED" - despite the fact that you like "that particular channel"

chauncey devega said...

I appreciate your efforts. I just find them unfocused, cumbersome, and confusing. I do like the BTU analogy though

You can choose to talk to yourself or get some real traction and money behind your various projects--assuming you already have not, which without knowing your details, I hope to be corrected on.

"FOR ME - I take massive sampling of the large world around me in order to define the "4 corners of the universe" - then I make observations of the corner that various people occupy."

Parsimony is your friend. You should also avoid grand theories. They usually get you in trouble."Will Chauncey DeVega be an "Anti-Establishment man - still?"

Why would you ever think that I am "anti-establishment?" Could it be that my interests are aligned with a particular wing of a certain part of the establishment?

"Those who PURPORT to be "Defending The Black Community From Assault" - are of particular interest to me."

I am not a superhero. Nor, am I defending the black community or any other community from anything at all.

People need to defend themselves. I just have a low tolerance for foolishness.

As I said, you should get a radio show which is a much better venue for your large range of ideas than print or writing online unless you are willing and able to condense those thoughts into something digestible.

Right now, much of your good stuff is encumbered by a routine that could easily be confused with some type of performance art. That isn't a bad thing, I play with that affect and aesthetic myself too, but if that is not your intent then maybe a different format is called for.