In my high school, over 90% of the student body was white. I was the only black student in all of my classes until my junior year. Confronted with the cruel reality of how invisible I am to the American conscience, the one black teacher who looked like me warned me my freshman year, “There are some white kids here that have never been in the same room as a black kid.” The road towards any liberation is beyond reactionary response. Validation is a reminder that we marginalized folks are human. Once understood, we must return to the crucible that we weren’t allowed to enter in the first place, and continue to fight for the manifestation of the reality we speak so much of.
I do not agree with what was said in the recent article “The Supreme Court, Honor Code, and The Muppets: Reform for Free Speech and Expression” by David Canada. Canada argues that individuals should be wary of any institution upholding a specific moral code. Viewpoint discrimination, he claims, is a destructive threat to freedom of expression. I do not believe that institutions are capable of objectivity. Most institutions within the United States are firstly based on the the precedent that the individual is a property-owning white man. Amendments made to these institutions are, in a general sense, deviations from this precedent to seek to universalize and make these institutions more inclusive. Thus, a continuation of the myth of the objectivity of the institution. But this article is not meant to be an expression and defense of my political ideology.
I believe that David Canada’s article should not be dismissed. I believe that this article should be critiqued with the serious intention as any work published by any press. The immediate discomfort and anger felt by this work should be held on to, internalized, and struggled with intellectually, morally, etc. Validation is of utmost importance; it’s what allows us to remember that we are human. But the systemic and cultural progress that we are struggling to achieve requires each of us to recognize that there are individuals out there whose realities contradict our own. Unfortunately, there is validation in that. This is not to say that individuals who hold, racist, sexist, etc. ideals are correct. In fact, this only highlights the immensity of internalized and externalized oppressions. A Facebook post dismissing a hurtful or dangerous ideology will not rid the world of that ideology. Confrontation and engagement is the only way to concretize the change liberal communities are so adept in discussing. Once again, we must move away from emotional catharsis. I do not believe that continuingly echoing within our social spheres is an effective means of accomplishing liberation. We must accept what Canada wrote within his article, just as I had to accept the gross reality of many of my white peers in high school. Once this is understood, then we must reconfigure our roles in the immense task that is confronting oppression. This endeavor will always require us to risk.