We have a new category of postings for the NAS website: items we quote without comment from articles, books, websites, and other sources. Some of the items that will appear here strike us as so perfect of their kind that our comment would be superfluous. Perfection, of course, comes in many varieties. We will report perfect inanity, perfect inflation of triviality to academic bombast, perfect pretension in the pursuit of shabby ends, and perfect sophistry, as well as the occasional perfect moments of lucidity and good argument.
We won’t be commenting on these items (at least in words), but our readers may have something to add.
Today’s no comment item is an excerpt from an article, “A Professor Tackles Race in the Classroom,” in the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required). The author of the article is George Yancy, associate professor of philosophy at Duquesne University:
I make it a point to ask my students, "So, are there any students in here who see themselves as racist?" The question seems especially bold, and loaded, when posed by an African-American professor to a class of predominantly white students. No one raises a hand; there is often a look of absolute disbelief on their faces.
My objective is not to nurture stultifying guilt in my white students, but to encourage them to listen carefully for racism in their inner voices, and to take note of how it affects their body postures and anxieties when around people of color. By publicly unveiling such realities about themselves, my white students pose aspects of their identities as problems to be challenged.
This sounds familiar.