I was stunned to read this morning that a new study has branded Dr. Seuss Books such as Horton Hears a Who! “Racist and problematic.”
Katie Ishizuka and Ramón Stephens write in their February 2019 report, “Findings from this study promote awareness of the racist narratives and images in Dr. Seuss’ children’s books and implications to the formation and reinforcement of racial biases in children.”
I suppose I shouldn’t be so shocked to read such headlines anymore. Hell, even expecting students to show their math work is now considered racist.
The Oregon Department of Education recently encouraged teachers to register for training that promotes “ethnomathematics.” The course material argues, among other things, that kids showing their work in math class is considered White supremacy because it allegedly reinforces “paternalism” and “worship of the written word.” Worship of the written word is an alleged foundation of white supremacy culture, which reinforces documentation and writing skills.
I read the Dr. Seuss and ethnomath arguments while carefully considering the charges. And, after having done so, I came to an epiphany. Everything is racist and problematic.
This is not idle speculation, nor is it hyperbole. The charge is, in fact, fairly easy to make and support by what the left accepts as cogent argument.
Daylight Savings Time is Racist and Problematic
Consider, for example, Daylight Savings Time (DST). Racist and problematic? Absolutely. How? Let me explain.
According to research published in BMJ, hospitals reported a 24-percent spike in heart attack cases the Monday following the one-hour spring time adjustment. They also reported a 21-percent reduction in heart attack cases on the Tuesday following the time adjustment in the fall. The data was collected between March 2010 and September 2013.
Now, let’s couple that study with a 2009 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. researchers found that African-Americans have a much higher incidence of heart failure than other races. Before age 50, African-Americans’ heart failure rate is 20 times higher than that of whites, according to the study.
Given the above, we can conclude the following: If DST has been shown to cause heart attacks, and African-Americans have a heart failure rate 20 times higher than that of whites, then DST will disproportionately affect the health of African-Americans than that of whites. Therefore, DST is racist and problematic.
Spoons are Racist and Problematic
I put my “Everything is Racist” allegation to the test. As I stirred my coffee, I thought, “OK, what about his spoon? How is it racist and problematic?”
The left always works from the assumption of inherent racism, so that is what I will do. That spoon is racist, and now I will go about buttressing my allegation. It didn’t take long.
A quick internet search led me to discover that spoons can be held tight with concave sides facing out and with index finger between their handles. Banging the spoons together in this arrangement creates a musical instrument made popular in the minstrel shows of the early 19th century. Minstrel shows were an American form of racist entertainment performed by mostly white people in make-up or blackface.
So, I will argue that spoons represent a painful reminder—a link to the past, when African-Americans were openly mocked onstage by their white oppressors. Every time a spoon falls to the floor or clatters in a drawer, whites simply perceive sparkly tones. But to African-Americans, these sounds are painfully reminiscent of minstrel music. They are echoes of a humiliating history, with each note stabbing like a dagger at their very essence. Clearly, spoons are racist and problematic.
But, my polemic is not yet complete. There is one very important, missing ingredient I have yet to formulate: a label. My spoon screed must be tied up and presented with a nice, erudite-sounding, Ivy-League-sized bow. This will give my whole mess of an argument the appearance of scholarly provenance akin to the terms “Ethnomathematics” and “Structural Racialization.”
To that end, I will dub the sound of clanging spoons, “Implicit Bias Resonance.” And I will call my earlier DST/health analysis an example of a “Medigression.”
There. Now we not only know how spoons and DST are racist and problematic, but we can now print it on bumper stickers and shout our terms at rallies. See how easy that is?
The Racist Challenge
In the interest of proving my thesis that everything is racist, I suggest the creation of The Racist Challenge. This will not only expose the absurdity of and possibly curtail any such future allegations of racism found where none exists, but it will also likely get you kicked off Twitter and Facebook. And that is a good thing.
- Invite a friend or family member to challenge you with a person, place or thing
- Work from the assumption that the person, place or thing you’ve been given is inherently racist
- Formulate an argument to prove step 2
- Create a term to describe the racism you’ve uncovered (turn to the Racial Equity Tools Glossary for help)
- Share your findings publicly
There are honest examples of racism in the US and throughout the world. There always have been, and there always will be. I’m not saying that we can’t do better. I’m simply suggesting that we should be honest about how we approach it.
I once had a book in high school in which I started highlighting important passages. By the time I got to the second chapter, I realized that I had highlighted perhaps eighty percent of what I had read. At that point, the highlighted passages had lost their value. They were worthless to my studies. When everything is highlighted, nothing is highlighted.
Which leads me to the point of this piece. When everything is racist, nothing is racist. Anyone can find racism anywhere—even in a spoon. It’s become somewhat of a game at this point, much like finding Waldo.
Finding “white privilege” where none exists has become a cottage industry. Books, lectures, interviews—none of this is written or performed for free. Corporations such as Coca Cola and entities including the Seattle School District are all too happy to pay handsomely for the woke stamp of approval from profiteers with dubious credentials.
Working toward a goal of 100% tolerance is both foolhardy and unrealistic. This will only build resentment and create further division. You cannot force someone to be tolerant. To be tolerant is to accept that people are flawed.
The charge of racism does not affect with the same center of gravity as it had in the past. When African-Americans were barred from sitting at certain lunch counters, going to certain schools, or were forced to sit at the back of busses—those injustices were abhorrent. People fought and died to have those practices abolished, and they were true examples of racism.
Being asked to read Dr. Seuss or show your math work? Not so much.