Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Powerlessness of Power

There is a new victim-mentality sweeping college campuses and I believe America as a whole. It is the belief that whites are now victims. But that’s not the scary part; the scary part is in who they blame as the ones victimizing them. It seems that whites are being victimized by blacks and Latinos, that’s right the white privileged students on many college campuses are feeling victimized. They are not feeling victimized by higher crime rates on campus perpetrated by blacks and Latinos, no the victimization is occurring through college programs and political correctness. In an effort to fight back against these perceived threats to white privilege many conservative white students are hosting racial identity parties.

In many respects, ghetto-fabulous parties are the culmination of conservative politics on college campuses. They reflect the ongoing insecurities of whiteness in the wake of the civil rights movement and the supposed prominence of multiculturalism and political correctness. Indeed, ghetto-fab parties are part of a broader reactionary movement that believes whiteness and the ivory tower are being imperiled by political correctness, radical professors and “minority rights.” Pushing against these perceived evils, conservative students have organized political theatrics on campuses, holding “affirmative action” bake sales and “white-only” scholarships. They have in essence created a culture today in which those with power think of themselves as victims and those without become targets for violence.[1]

These ghetto-fabulous and cholo parties are events where white students depending on the cultural theme of the event dress up as what they consider to be representations of these cultures. For example at a ghetto-fabulous party the students wear black face, fake gold teeth, and drink 40oz bottles of malt liquor. The women sometimes even feign pregnancy and pad their posteriors to imitate the stereotypes of black females. These racial identity parties are growing in popularity across America's campuses. The question becomes why are they gaining in popularity when our universities should be the places where tolerance and diversity are being taught and practiced?

The first reason I think is the perceived loss of power felt by the white students. As college campuses became more liberal and diverse they began to institute political correctness policies, rather than helping to remove the prejudice they in fact caused it to go underground. It was no longer fashionable to use racial epithets in public or to display racially insensitive material. It was naïve to think that by forcing compliance to these policies that change of thought would result, instead what we got was a more deep seated type of intolerance. A type of intolerance that does not come out in public, but lurks under the surface waiting for the opportunity to demonstrate itself in a safe environment. These parties provide that opportunity for them to display their intolerance among like-minded people.

After all, all we are doing is just having a party, having a little fun. We certainly don’t mean any harm by it and it definitely is not racial. They pretend to ignore the harm of their actions, as if demonstrating the worst stereotypes of a racial group is harmless. Sort of like when the future King of England was seen attending a party in a Nazi outfit, just harmless fun. They also ignore the fact of how demeaning it is for members of that racial group to be depicted in these outlandish stereotypical roles and outfits.

The second reason for the increased outbreak I think is the corporate take-over of the university experience. There was a time when the university experience was dictated by experimentation and a desire to improve one’s environment. Students took an active role in leading social change. There was Vietnam, South Africa, poverty, civil rights and a whole host of other movements that were either begun or championed by college students. With corporations taking over more and more of university life there is less of the rebellious spirit and more of the boardroom spirit. The thing about the campus spirit is that it changes from conservative to liberal and vice versa. During the time of Vietnam and civil rights college campuses represented the same conservative values of the country as a whole, until the spirit of change and revolution swept through.

Today more and more universities have opened up the campuses to the influences of corporate America and in the process they have sold their creative and liberal souls to the devil. As the corporations exert more and more influence on not only student life but college curriculums, there are fewer classes and opportunities to study diversity of cultures or cultural studies in general. Social study classes are being cancelled due to the fact they are not generating graduating numbers, they are not adding to the bottom line of the university. They speak as though the goal of the university is to make money, I thought it was to educate, challenge and prepare young adults for adulthood. To develop independent, critical thought processes in preparation for the challenges of life was one worthwhile goal of the university experience I thought.

The final reason I think for the rise in racial identity parties is the lack of diversity on our nation’s campuses. With the challenges to affirmative action and financial aid cutbacks, there are fewer minority students on college campuses. This lack of diversity I think fuels the attitude of exclusiveness for the white students and offers less resistance to their antics. With fewer minority students to interact with, there is a lack of empathy and common sense to restrain their behavior. I think that as fewer minority students are able to attend college there will be an even greater increase in these parties and also in the escalation of similar activities.

Without the influence of cultural study classes and minority students there will be less inhibition on the part of those who truly harbor racists’ feelings to express those feelings in a more demonstrative way. I predict a rise in racial symbolism and more racial attacks. Our campuses are becoming more conservative and this is something that should trouble all of us. If the students are only being given one side of the story their views of the world will be askew. We all need to have beliefs challenged and questioned in order to either embrace them as truth or discard them as false. This gives rise to the false premise that those with power are now powerless victims and as such must lash out against the true powerless that they view as now usurping that power.


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