Here is my first ever GT rant post. Huzzah?
So I am in my last semester of my senior year of college and electives were in rather short supply. I ended up picking a class on race and justice. Sounds like it could be good right? I actually quite enjoy studying race and crime because I personally believe white domination plays a huge role in criminal justice policy, particularly since the Reagan era*. Here is the catch – it was a 1200 level course, aka freshman and sophomores. I have learned that for classes about race it is all about getting a good ratio of racists to non-racists. You can't hope to get a class free of them, but you can at least hope to get a class with enough people to keep them from taking over. 1200 level classes do not bode well for the ratio, (not because underclassmen are all racists but because the racists among them haven't learned that people will call them out on it), but I signed up anyway.
So I get there on the first day and am excited to see quite a few non-white faces. Yay! I think to myself. Perhaps there is hope! Maybe this class will be a constructive use of my time! I dared to dream, and as you can probably guess, my dreams were dashed. The first mental bell rang when we laid out the "discussion rules" we would follow for the semester. There was the usual: don't interrupt people, respect differences in opinion, etc., but then it happened:
"I don't think people should have to be so politically correct. Let's just be real"
Oh no. The racists are trying to stake their claim. They have made the first move. I looked straight ahead, hoping to hear the normal backtracking from the Professor, the warnings of sensitivity and recognizing biases, but none arrived. I should have dropped right then, but I was a fool. Maybe I am overreacting. Give it time Carrissa. They look like decent people.
The past two weeks have been a hellish ride around the racist cliché merry-go-round. "Why do black people get to say n**ger? (censorship mine)" "Affirmative action is racism against white people" "Yellow people are just smarter" and so on and so forth. I try and politely correct people but it is no use – the ratio is ruined. I am drowned out. I am futilely kicking against the tide, no lifesaver to be found. The faces of those potential allies that gave me hope have either disappeared or are buried behind their laptop screens, reflections of happier distractions flitting across their eyes. My professor has taken the "racism is just difference in opinion" route, demanding we yield the floor to let them spew their ignorance.
It is now too late for me to drop the class, but when I checked there weren't really any available alternatives anyway. So what am I to do? Has anyone else had a similar experience? How did you handle it? I am running out of options. Never before in my life have a wished a pain killer was real.
*for more on this read The New Jim Crow