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Showing posts from March, 2017

Hidden Explicit Messaging

A common refrain these days about racism in our society—to the extent that it's discussed at all—is that racist language is far less explicit today than it was in the past. There may be racism (way over there, and by those people) but let's be glad that people don't casually throw around the N-word anymore. Or so say people—good liberal people—like to frequently say.

But is racism less explicit today, really?
In my last post I gave an example of some extremely common, casual, yet racist messaging in the example of a white person claiming that a person of color only got a prestigious academic fellowship "because they're Black/Brown/Indigenous." Is this racist comment not explicit? The message here is that the only way a person of color could possibly get, say, an NSF Fellowship is because of affirmative action, whereby more qualified white people are pushed aside so a less qualified person can get the fellowship based on their race (or so the fictional, carto…

An annual note to all the (NSF) haters

It's that time of year again: students have recently been notified about whether they received the prestigious NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Known in the STEM community as "The NSF," the fellowship provides a student with three years of graduate school tuition and stipend, with the latter typically 5-10% above the standard institutional support for first- and second-year students. It's a sweet deal, and a real accellerant for young students to get their research career humming along smoothly because they don't need to restrict themselves to only advisors who have funding: the students fund themselves!
This is also the time of year that many a white dude executes what I call the "academic soccer flop." It looks kinda like this:

It typically sounds like this: "Congrats! Of course it's easier for you to win the NSF because you're, you know, the right demographic." Or worse: "She only won because she's Hispanic."…

This week in the freedom to discriminate

Race has no biological basis. Race is assigned based on biological features (hair, skin, etc), but biological features do not uniquely map to a race. Academics know this. Or at least they should. However, if you are an academic who believes in race, and would like to use this belief to promote the notion that white people are superior, you can make a living off of it. 
Enter Charles Murray, the author of the racist and scientifically debunked text, Bell Curve. He was recently invited to speak at Middlebury College, and despite espousing nonsense, his place on the stage at an institution of higher learning was justified under "the freedom of speech." If Murray were there to tell his story of UFO sightings, describe his theory of a flat Earth, or to discuss his attempts to interbreed various types of unicorns, this defense would not be available to him. But because he has staked his career on dabbling in America's age-old dark art of racecraft, and because his ideas add a…