I think it was the Apostle Paul who said: “There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.”
Or maybe it was Shakespeare. I can’t remember.
In any case, each week, while sorting through the emails, DMs and tweets from readers and people who only peruse headlines before firing off angry responses, we try to avoid the stupid stuff. But I now realize stupid people deserve to be heard. You might think this newfound position serves no purpose, but who are you to judge? While we have all suffered through temporary bouts of stupidity, you’ve probably never had to do with Deadly Untreatable Malignant Bouts of Asinine Foolishness (DUMBAF).
While scientists thought they would one day come up with a cure for DUMBAF, it has been spreading like wildfire lately. There’s no vaccine for stupidity. All we can do is use social distancing to stay away from our DUMBAF readers. But hope is not lost. Maybe this will help.
Take two Clapbacks and call me in the morning.
The article about racist textbooks touched a few nerves:
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: Don’t racialize our schools.
I learn the basics from school without having it racialized. Like most people, I learned more about history in college and researching myself and I think students today can do the same without Critical Race Theory.
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: You seem to think that white kids teach their children to be racist. If you want your kids to learn a black version of history or to learn critical race theory, why don’t you start your own school for blacks or teach them at home?
Check out this tweet.
I tweeted this because I had a new sink installed. When the plumber installed the garbage disposal, he installed it on the right side. Now, I was raised washing from left-to-right. My family owned restaurants, and we washed in that direction, too. So I called the plumber back to tell him that he installed it wrong, but he wanted to charge me to come out and switch the garbage disposal to the other side when it was his fault that it was installed wrong.
After I sent that tweet, I noticed that the answers were split down the middle. About a third said they washed on the right; another third said they washed on the left. Another third said they washed on whatever side the garbage disposal was on, which was insane to me. So you know what I did?
I started washing on the other side. After I adjusted to this new way of washing dishes, guess what happened?
My dishes were still clean!
I assumed the way I washed dishes was the correct way to wash dishes but I was wrong. It was just a way to wash dishes. The only way I was able to see the issue from a different perspective was to think about washing dishes while “exercising or involving careful judgment or judicious evaluation,” or, as the dictionary calls it, I used critical thought.
Here is the point of the article.
If white people used race as a lens to critically evaluate history, they could see other perspectives. If they don’t, they will continue to view America’s past through their viewpoint. And just as I assumed the way I washed dishes was the correct way, white people assume that the white view of history is the correct perspective. They can’t understand that they haven’t learned history objectively; they absorbed a history that was filtered through the lens of whiteness.
The unreasonable outrage at the prospect of white kids learning Black history is proof that The 1619 Project is needed. You don’t know that you’re dumb because you learned this same bullshit. The teachers don’t know that they’re ignorant because that’s how they were taught. The legislators, the principals, the parent and most people in America have been taught their perspective as fact. And, because we all learn it that way, we can’t see that it’s just a white version, not a correct version.
And, while segregated schools were not the point of the article, who do you think segregated those schools? Why do you think they were segregated? Could it have something to do with white children getting state-sponsored courses in racism? I should note that, while white kids got government-sponsored pro-Confederate history lessons, your solution seems to be for Black people to take extraordinary measures to make sure their kids aren’t indoctrinated with this historical propaganda.
And I’m fine with that, as long as my tax dollars and children aren’t involved. Black kids shouldn’t be deprived of learning history nor should Black people’s taxes be used to subsidize a fake version of history to appease white people. So, if white people want to learn fake history, maybe they should homeschool their kids.
And they can just keep whitewashing their history the same way they always have.
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: RACE IN AMERICA TODAY
BLPIPOLOGIST: A PROFESSIONAL WHO HAS SPECIALIZED KNOWEDGE IN THE FIELD OF BLACK CULTURE, INCLUDING POLITICAL, ECONOMIC,AND SOCIAL HABITS/ACTIVITIES/CARYINGS ON OF BLACK PEOPLE AND THEIR HISTORY.
From: Karrie K.
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: The United States of America
Just for sh*ts and giggles. Name me one country that does not persecute or murder it’s citizens based solely on skin tone, sexual orientation, gender roles, religion, socioeconomic status, or political views, AND has equal opportunity for ALL. Quit holding people back. Quit pushing a victim agenda. Stop wallowing in the lies of white liberals. Stop feeding the lies of big government and big corporations. What’s your answer to my question?
YES! The U.S. of A. If you think this country, this Constitution,and it’s Founding Fathers are a problem, you know nothing of freedom, sacrifice, or allegiance. AND NOT A SINGLE THING ABOUT WORLD HISTORY. Please research, find facts, and stop being another oppressor, suppresser, and downright EVIL liar.
Dear Karrie K.
This is embarrassing, but when I was a kid, I used to piss and shit myself all the time. I didn’t think anything was wrong with it. In fact, I’d often shit and giggle. Now, I don’t remember this time in my life very well because I was less than 2 years old, but my mother told me about it. She said I would cry when she left me on the potty.
Perhaps I should have told my mother to stop “playing the victim” when she was trying to make me into a less shitty version of myself. Maybe I should have asked her to name one child who doesn’t piss on himself. Why was she so insistent on pushing a grownup agenda?
I should note here that you are right that there is no country that does not “persecute or murder it’s citizens based solely on skin tone, sexual orientation, gender roles, religion, socioeconomic status, or political views, AND has equal opportunity for ALL.” Human beings are racist, xenophobic and homophobic in general. It is part of the human condition. Even in countries that are better than America, there is racism and inequality. Sweden has it. Norway has it.
But many of those countries acknowledge the problem and try to address the issues. America, however, is filled with people who believe that pointing out an issue is “playing the victim,” which is something white people made up to silence the actual victims of racism.
We can pretend that it just so happens that the people who were human trafficked to this country and worked for free are the same ones who are called “lazy” or “whiners” when they complain about income inequality or discrimination, but you and I know that isn’t true. You can pretend that the Native Americans aren’t suffering from centuries of white violence and mayhem, but you and I know that isn’t true. You can pretend that it’s just a random set of coincidences that every group in America faces measurable inequality except white people but we know it’s not true. You can pretend that it’s the fault of these disparate sets of people’s attitudes that are holding them back, and not white supremacy, but you and I know it isn’t true. We know what you’re doing.
We see you.
But here’s the thing. If white America said “we’re racist and we don’t care,” it would be a different thing. Even if they said “we’re racist, and we’re going to fix it by acknowledging our mistakes,” we might see things differently. But instead, your position seems to be “every single group in America is making this shit up. Trust us, white people are not racist.”
Are you fucking stupid?
Don’t answer that question. I know the answer. Your parents fed you these unbelievable lies only a stupid person could believe. Your country erased its racist past, and you were so stupid, you accepted it. We know America’s history better than you.
I’m not the one promoting American exceptionalism. I’m not the one who wrote “All men are created equal.” I’m not the one touting “liberty and justice for all.” We know white people are racist. We’re not even saying that racism can be erased from the face of the Earth. We just want you to stop crying when we are trying to make this country better. And after 400 years, the only response you’ve managed to come up with is:
“Nah, I’d rather keep shitting on myself.”