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I am beginning to detest political correctness! Perhaps I just
want to know how people really feel. It's not
that negative opinions don't hurt - of course they do. But I would take a
cross-burning-hate-spouting-hood-wearing Ku Klux Klan member over a
person who thought the same things, but never dared to express those
thoughts until sometime in the future when it could hurt me more (i.e.
job hiring). At least with the KKK member, I know what I am getting.
As a black female born and raised in the South, I have dealt with racism
and discrimination all of my life. But I expected (or hoped for) a
little more from our university.
Yet what is the first thing that happens when I come to campus? The
"ghetto party!" What followed were anger, discussions and learning. But
was anything really learned? Every year, there is another incident of
some kind: the "luau party," Jewish hate mail, vandalism on the door of
Asian students, and most recently, the incident at the fraternity, just to name a few.
So I have a new idea. If the university wants to strengthen community, it
does not need to just have discussions where people learn what not to
say or do. People need to feel the effects of their words and actions.
So I propose we build a machine that transforms the "offender" into the
"offended." Instead of hearing how their words and actions hurt someone
else, let them walk in that person's shoes.
Think you know someone who is racist? Put her in the machine and let her
know how it feels to be a person of color for a lifetime. As part of the
experience, she will be followed in stores as if she's about to steal
something. As a child, instead of having teachers help her in school,
they will write her off as a lost cause, label her a delinquent, or
prematurely put her in a special education class. Or when she does not
understand, people will act surprised and say, "Aren't all of you good
in math?" When people insult her race, her objections will be judged as
over-sensitivity (considered a common attribute of people like her). Her
success will be seen as a threat to others. When she tries to show pride
in or help others have pride in their race, she will be labeled
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"Racism and Racial Profiling are Better than Political Correctness." 123HelpMe.com. 25 Feb 2020
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"boastful." She will have to deal with being unjustly persecuted by
police and other authorities that are supposed to serve and protect
every citizen. In general, she can look forward to treatment as a
Think you know someone who is homophobic? Put him in the machine allow
him to experience what it feels like to have people judge him because of
something that isn't their business in the first place. When people
insult him for his sexual preference, his objections will be judged as
over-sensitivity (considered a common attribute of people like him). Due
to the behavior of stupid people, he will have to fear for his safety.
Once again, he can look forward to treatment as a second-class citizen.
Think you know someone who is sexist? We will let him enter the machine
and become a member of the opposite sex. He will be told at a young age
that he doesn't understand because of his gender. He will be steered
away from certain interests by teachers or others because they think the
concepts are too hard for his sex. People may judge him more on his
looks than his abilities. Mistreatment will be justified for superficial
reasons like the way he dresses ("He was asking for it"). When people
insult his gender, his objections will be judged as over-sensitivity
(considered a common attribute of his sex). Success means people assume
he got there because of his looks or because he "slept his way to the
top." Due to the behavior of stupid people, he will have to fear for his
safety. And yes, you guessed it: he will also look forward to more
treatment as a second-class citizen.
My argument is not to say that the white, heterosexual male is the
ultimate oppressor. Discrimination is perpetuated by all shapes and
sizes, shades and sexes. Nor do I believe that all Dartmouth students
are ignorant. The point is that I do not really think anything will
change until people are educated - meaning that stereotypes must be
dispelled and a true understanding of how physical or verbal insults
hurt others is gained. I do not like political correctness: nothing is
solved if you try to spare the feelings of others, but still think of
them in the same way.
I know the idea of a machine like the one I proposed is ludicrous. In
fact, I would hope no one would ever have to go through experiences like
the ones I have mentioned above. But discrimination against people who
are considered different is not "imaginary or perceived," as one
writer put it. I wish that people could try to understand why
there is anger when things like the "Ghetto" party or the "Scalp those
bitches" incidents happen. But deep down, in my cynical heart-of-hearts,
I doubt they will.