Your money pays for incoherent, anti-white mush.
As you have probably heard, the hard sciences are full of “white supremacy.” I have always wondered how math and physics could be racist, and thanks to a half-million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation, now we know. As the authors of a seminal paper report, they have “made whiteness visible.”
The paper is called “Observing whiteness in introductory physics: A case study,” and it’s in a peer-reviewed journal called Physical Review Physics Education Research.
Let’s start with what the authors call their “positionalities.” Amy D. Robertson says she is “a chronically ill and disabled, physics-Ph.D.-holding, thin wealthy white woman.”
Here she is, research professor of physics at Seattle Pacific University.
She adds that as part of the “hegemony of whiteness” in which she plays a reluctant part, her own whiteness was long invisible to her, but she is now “waking up to the world as it is, with gratitude for the support of Friends, Scholars, and Activists of Color.”
So, she’s a newbie in all this, but she’s got the zeal of a convert, and “sees this paper as one piece of her effort to join the collective struggle for liberation from white supremacy.”
Her co-author, Tali Hairston, works for the Seattle Presbytery as Director of Community Organizing, Advocacy, and Development.
The presbytery covers 48 churches in the area and admits, right on its home page, that “our houses of worship are located on the ancestral lands of the Duwamish and Salish peoples” and that it is committed to “dismantling structural racism.”
Mr. Hairston’s “positionality” is such that he “identifies with the larger historical narrative of pre-enslavement and precolonial African rootedness.”
Arabs started raiding black Africa for slaves in the 8th century, so the “historical narrative of pre-enslavement” is thin.
But even more important, “for this project Hairston brings forward equity in education that is not centered in white normativity.”
Unlike Prof. Robertson, he was born with a gift for unmasking whiteness.
The authors explain that they capitalize black, Hispanic, and person of color, but they don’t capitalize white because it “is a socially constructed category that was created for the purposes of dominance and exclusion.”
The very first sentence of the paper is this: “Critical Race Theory names that racism and white supremacy are endemic to all aspects of U.S. society, from employment to schooling to the law.”
This is not a hypothesis; it is an axiom.
So, how does this study unmask white supremacy right in a college classroom? First, the authors get off to a strange start: “We define whiteness in the following way: Within whiteness, organization of social life is in terms of a center and margins that are based on dominance [and] control.”
If you have a center that dominates the margins, you have white supremacy? The authors even admit: “Notably, this definition does not require actors be white in order to participate in whiteness.”
That, to me, says, “trouble ahead,” but it leads to a flow chart that explains, in their words, “how multiple forms of oppression are related, and how these lead to multiple forms of harm.”
Apparently, it all starts with colonialism, before which everyone was happy. Remember: all this is taken for granted before we see even a lick of data.
For the study, these scientists “video recorded four consecutive days of instruction” of a college physics course. Out of the four days, they chose just one six-and-a-half minute snippet to analyze, presumably the six and a half minutes of the most visible, pernicious whiteness.
The class in the video was taught by a mixed-race, half-white woman who gave an assignment to three students: a Middle-Eastern man, a white woman, and a Hispanic woman, who have to solve a physics problem. The paper has still images from the video of what happened, along with bits of dialogue – some of them inaudible – that caught white supremacy red handed.
After the students hear the assignment, the Middle-Eastern man picks up a marker and starts solving the problem on the white board. The two women ask a few questions and make a few comments, but the Middle-Easterner solves the problem to the satisfaction of all three students. They go back to their seats and the biracial teacher asks the group to explain the solution. The Middle-Easterner raises his hand, and the Hispanic woman then gestures to him as the best person to explain.
Where’s the white supremacy? In several places. The four and a half minutes were centered on the Middle-Easterner’s getting the right answer, and getting the right answer is white supremacy. Why is that? It ignores “ways of knowing that have not historically been recognized by physics (e.g., Eastern and Indigenous ways of knowing).”
And that is white supremacy because “enforcing a social organization with a (consistent) center and margins is epistemicide , or ‘the extermination of knowledge and ways of knowing’.”
Epistemicide, no less!
Using the whiteboard is white supremacy because “with white organizational culture, . . . ideas and experiences gain value (become more central) when written down.”
The fact that whiteboards are white is apparently not white supremacy.
But there’s more. The Middle-Easterner made a couple of little notations on the board after a comment or two from the women, but you wouldn’t know that from looking at the words. What he wrote is therefor ahistorical. And you know that means: “Ahistoricity supports revisionist versions of history that fuel white racial ideologies, by centering white perspectives on historical events [and] downplaying white violence, disconnecting current racial violence and trauma from its long history.”
All that wickedness was hiding right there on the whiteboard, but these two crack scientists laid it bare.
Now, if you think that all we see in these six and a half minutes is that the man who knew the solution took over and the women followed his lead, these scientists have refuted you in advance. They say you are “engaging in bad-faith argumentation.”
The scientists spent part of their half million dollars interviewing the people in this drama. They report that the Hispanic woman, whom they call Paris, wasn’t at all bothered by what happened. She said she likes it when people who know the answer speak up and explain how they got it: “In fact, Paris appreciates the centering of these students, which helps her to get the right answer, the thing that has been ascribed value by whiteness, over and above other things.”
She is an unwitting victim and accomplice of white supremacy.
The scientists also interviewed the Middle-Easterner who was viciously “centering” himself and they interviewed the white woman student who, despite basking in white privilege all her life, was the most marginalized person of all. But they don’t tell us a thing they said. Maybe they said the whole paper was hogwash.
Which, of course it was. I can imagine an identical little game of center-and-margin in a class full of Ethiopians. Or even 1,000 years ago, when a band of Kalahari bushmen – who had never even heard of white people – got lost in the desert, and the guy who had the best idea of where to go drew a map on the ground with a stick to explain why it was better to go left rather than right.
I guess that was white supremacy in blackface.
This whole, idiotic, $500,000 paper boils down to one idea: Getting the right answer is white supremacy, and not considering Eastern or indigenous “ways of knowing” is “epistemicide.” I am quite sure that Easterners themselves – Chinese and Japanese – don’t give two hoots what Confucius ever said about thermodynamics.
But these fools? At the end of their paper, they write: “Scholars, Teachers, and Activists of Color – note the reverential upper case – have been dreaming and creating for ages, and have invited us to join the movement for collective liberation. We want to dream together, with you, toward physics teaching and learning as a ‘world where many worlds are possible.’ ”
No, no, and no. The Chinese want to get to the moon. Build a better virus. They must be goggle-eyed with amazement at this rubbish.
And remember: This was funded by a National Science Foundation grant for $513,283.
That’s tax money. It was published in a peer-reviewed journal, which means the reviewers were all equally crazy. If this was all the white supremacy they could find with half a million dollars there isn’t any there, and they should shut up about it. And everyone involved in making this grant and spending the money should be fired. But, I’m sure, next time they will spend a full million hunting for white supremacy because, you see, they know it’s there.
According to Research Professor Amy Robertson’s CV, she has been principal investigator or co-principal investigator for six grants, totaling $2,296,000, and all but $2,000 of that was from the National Science Foundation.
Your money. I’m sure there’ll be more.
Just for fun, I sent email to the scientists who wrote this mush, politely asking if they spent the full half-million on this and if not, what they would spend the rest on. Amy didn’t reply, but Tali wrote back to say he wasn’t telling. I wrote to say that his LinkedIn page says, “Since 2018, we have co-led the strategy assessment and community engagement of King County’s Puget Sound Taxpayers Accountability Account.”
I said I was a taxpayer who wanted accountability. He wrote back: “I won’t entertain this obvious demonstration of privilege anymore.” I told you: He was born with the power to unmask whiteness.
But what an embarrassment. If Republicans ever control Congress will they look into this craziness? The National Science Foundation, like every piece of government, is under orders to “eliminate barriers to equity in program delivery.”
Amy and Tali are certainly not studying superconductivity or gamma ray imaging, but NSF can brag that it splashed out half a million to a thin, chronically sick white female and a bona fide person of color. It got a compost heap in return, but “equity” is being achieved.
This will continue until we stop it or the whole system comes crashing down. It can’t happen soon enough.