Today we traveled to That School Up North to attend a public lecture on implicit racism.
As always, we got a kick out of being in Oxford– that’s Oxford, Mississippi– which I’ve poked good natured fun at several times: Oxford the food desert; Oxford of Oxford Town, Oxford Town; and Oxford that turns a Jersey boy into a good ol’ boy. I could not live in Oxford even if I were paid. But I do enjoy visiting. It’s a country mouse / city mouse thing. Not that Oxford is a cosmopolitan city, it just thinks it is. Which is why it’s fun to visit. If you have the chance, go out of your way to visit to Oxford. Don’t miss Square Books.
Implicit ___ism is the idea that despite our rationally motivated desire to be not ___ists, we are by nature ___ists. We are sexists, ageists, racists, … what have you. Both Mr. Big Food and I are skeptical about the “science” underlying this claim. I think there are some deep methodological confusions in the design of the experiments, and the analyses of the resulting data. But… .
The talk was in a large lecture hall in Barnard Observatory. It was packed. There were all manner of folks given to being the subjects of ___isms, including an entire front row of children not of my race ranging in age from about five to 15 or so, and a second row holding two folks older than I, and not of my race, in traditional ___ism clothing.
If any implicit ___ism was going to manifest in me it was ageism. What we had here was a real life scenario of the flawed (? I haven’t looked at primary papers) experiments the speaker was referencing. What we had here was a bunch of kids in the front row of a packed lecture hall. Never have I seen such a thing. And my implicit ageism kicked in. But what I explicitly saw was a bunch of self-controlled, well-behaved, age-appropriately engaged kids. It was a sight to behold!
I watched them as they left the lecture. I finally saw them get into a van with “Fannie Lou Hammer Freedom School Etta, MS” printed on its side.
Later, I asked Bill about them. I learned that the couple began bringing their children to this series of public lectures years ago. The children were expected to sit quietly and listen. As they got older, they were expected to engage the subject. He said the older ones were expected to set an example for the younger ones. He said the patriarch and matriarch valued learning and education. The kids I saw today were their grandkids. Their parents had gotten Ph.D.s
Ism. Schism. I am sick and tired of focusing on ___isms. Let’s talk about expectations.