I’m a black person, and I read what President Wagner wrote about the 3/5ths compromise, but I don’t understand what’s going on. Should I be offended? How should I discuss race in the future?
Am I an Uncle Ruckus?
Dear Uncle Ruckus,
I’m glad you asked. As a black person, I, too, was not offended. But we both must do our best to be as offended as possible, and here’s why: when anyone outside your racial group references your race, you should be offended regardless of context, intention or actual meaning. This is because race defies logic, like Four Loko or the popularity of Mumford and Sons.
Here is a quick recap. President Wagner, an engineer, wrote a column in a magazine that no one reads, much like this newspaper. In his article, he referenced the Three-Fifths Compromise as an agreement reached by two hyper-polarized parties, explaining that if slave-holding racists in the South and non-slave-holding racists in the North could compromise on how to count slaves, we as a University could compromise on how to cut the liberal arts (read the article again).
Faculty and students are upset because Wagner used the word ‘model’ to discuss the compromise. And because, “in a democracy, it’s unethical to contribute to the culture of discrimination,” and referring to your own history, however flawed, contributes to the culture of discrimination.
If Wagner were not a racist, he would understand that words like “model” are racially-charged. Haven’t you noticed the Model T Ford was always black? Furthermore, even though the Three-Fifths Compromise was a compromise, it cannot be a model of compromise because we don’t like it anymore.
Now, how is this racism? Let me use an example: if a non-member of your race says something like, “Martin Luther King, Jr. had a bald spot.” You should immediately label that person a racist, whether the statement is historically accurate or not. Notice in the example, the non-member did not belittle the Civil Rights movement or the plight of blacks in the country – it’s your job to “infer” or create “grey” areas, since things are seldom black and white – and if they are black and white, why are you keeping them separate, you segregationist?
Now then, Uncle Ruckus, scientific advances have come a long way, and sociologists – not scientists – have developed a simple formula to detect racism. It follows:
race + words x (grey area) = racism.
You see, accusations of racism no longer require you to think. All you have to do is supply the grey area, which doesn’t take any thought at all. To put this formula in context, if President Wagner’s statements included the subject of race and used words, plus grey area implying that he lauded the Three-Fifths Compromise in its entirety and believes that black people are only three-fifths of a person, then we can conclude that it is racism, and you should be very upset.
Now then, let’s discuss my new rules for how to talk about race.
#1 Do not bring up race during a Race History Month
Notice a lot of people said Wagner’s comments were worse because it’s Black History Month. Had he saved them for March, it would be less racist somehow.
#2 Always explain you do not support racial injustice whenever discussing anything regarding race. Had Wagner mentioned that he did not support the Three-Fifths Compromise or slavery, he wouldn’t be in such hot water. Here’s an example: “I think Honda makes less reliable sedans, but I don’t support the internment of the Japanese.”
# 3 Be aware of your surroundings
Another reason people are upset about these comments is because Emory is in the South. Again, had these comments been said in Detroit, for instance, they’d be far less incendiary.
#4 Be aware of your privilege
What it basically means is that your opinions are wrong based on your background. If you’re a black female, you have black privilege and have no right discussing the plight of a white male. Your black privilege blinds you to the suffering of white men all over the world. Your opinions on white men cannot be taken seriously because you did not grow up like a white male – and you will never know the pain of being labeled white and male.
#5 Do not discuss race if you are Vice President Hauk
Hauk said in an interview with the Wheel that the editing process was flawed because “all of the eyes on the piece before it was published were white people.” He said this.
– By A.J. Artis