4.14.2013

"Is Black Girls Do Science Racist"...and other Cries of Reverse Racism

So I am Chapter President of the National Society of Black Engineers at my university and we presented an outreach program targeted at 4-8th grade African American girls called Black Girls Do Science. We collaborated with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) and other black female-run organizations on campus. In order to get the word out, we sent out a campus wide email to students, faculty, and staff about our event. Being at a PWI, we made sure that although we disclosed who we were targeting, we included the phrase "Everyone is Welcome to Attend"

While the vast vast majority of the emails we received back were positive, we got the inevitable “REVERSE RACISTS” ones. An email l immediately deleted flat out said, "Not interested because this is about race" as if nothing else is. As if calling attention to marginalized communities within an already White and Male Dominated Profession is more offensive than...essentially the inequality within this White, Male Dominated Profession.

Another email we received from the College of Psychiatry (thank God the woman was just a secretary) had the nerve to have the entire preceding paragraph start with “I am not at all interested, but I do have a question and I don’t mean to sound offensive, let me know if l am, but…” Then came the floodgates of Fail, asking if it would be racist if there was a “White Girls Do Science” (otherwise known as Society of Women Engineers) and why do black people have a BET and NAACP (wish I was joking).

The double standard is that these White women would be the first to sign their daughters up for Girls Do Science, as these will automatically be white-dominated spaces due to institutional racism.

However it was one email that was quite telling about this rehashing of White Victimhood. You can read it for yourself below.

Re: Very Bummed (Actual Email Title)
I read the first line of this email and was excited to see something my kids would be interested in. Then I was quickly discouraged as I see that only minority girls are invited to participate? I understand that the goal is to get this segment of our society interested and perhaps you give them priority status in registering, but is it really necessary to exclude other children who are interested who are boys or alternatively to my daughter who is white? Shouldn’t we be promoting the sciences to all children no matter what sex or color you are? I am glad you are offering these courses to our youth as there are very few of them for most kids to participate in.
Sincerely-
Mother


The exchange with this woman who was "Very Bummed" about us targeting black children at the so called "expense" of her white daughter was a constant White Whine Tactic that I'm sure we've all seen. By ignoring the "Everyone is Welcome to Attend" (until l pointed it out to her), she jumped on the White Victimhood Bandwagon: "See those mean darkies are just as racist if not more racist than White People! They won't let my super special white daughter attend". Yet when l respectfully responded with 2 opportunities to register her daughter, effectively erasing the whole "Black People are Exclusive" meme, she pulled the Derail for Dummies, suggested it was possibly sexist and intimidating to young boys, and wished me luck on the event. Code for: "I will not allow my Daughter around Darkies! Especially around those inner city Chicago transplants"

 For me and many of the other black women volunteering and planning for the event, growing up and attending girls do science outreach events, we WERE the only Black Girl Doing Science at the event. Yet, our parents sent us there knowing we would be the only child of color and would have to navigate the awkward racial dynamics all in the pursuit to get an education. Millions of Black Parents are faced with this dilemma EVERY DAY: Place my child in an environment where he/she will be faced with racism-overt and subtle-in order to attain a high quality education or place them in an opportunity to be surrounded by people who look like them. Nevertheless, we are taught by society to suck it up; that being surrounded by people who look like us is a luxury we are not entitled to.

Thus, when this woman immediately became bummed at the prospect that her white daughter would not be the center of attention and that we'd have the nerve to suggest that for once, maybe her daughter would have to privilege learning about science over being surrounded by other white children, it became clear. The self-segregation and need to preserve the notion of Whiteness as without faults was too overpowering for this woman. The constant need for affirmation of White Excellence and Beauty and Specialness is beyond narcissistic, it is bordering on mental illness.

The question arose, how do you respond to questions like this, knowing, as Ankhesen told me, that you can show them every statistic of why black children need these programs and they will still find a way to make it about them.

 So no, I will not respond. Because, these white girls who we are "excluding" (*i.e. choose not to attend*) will be fine. They will wake up with their worldview still in tact. The will probably flip open their Disney Princess Notebook and see Princesses that look like them. They will turn on the TV and see that White girls like them are still pretty and perfect. On their way to their school, they will wave at the policeman, the teacher, the postman, all who share their melanin and whom they can identify with. Once they're in school, they will be taught that indeed Whiteness is right. That the their teacher is still white, that their peers are still white, and they will look around and think it good.

 I will not respond, although a nice "Check Your Privilege" would be in order. Instead I will do what I always set out to do. Get the word out that Black Girls Do in fact Do Science!

14 comments:

  1. *kmt* The same people would uss aboiut the existene of HBCUs without investigating why black folks saw the need to create those schools in the first place.

    It never fails. For decades, we've been expected to play nice an ask THEM to include us, to little or no avail. The minute we get fed up and decide to focus our energies on building us instead of begging them, then, as Denny would say, the fee-fees get extra hurt. At this point, I'm in 'F*CK 'EM!' mode. Extremely hilarious and typical how they didn't notice discrimination until it became clear that this is one of the very few areas where Angelica Pickles was welcome to participate BUT wouldn't get all the attention.

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    1. I wouldn't respond to any of those emails. Fuck 'em. As a Black Girl Who Does Science, I can count the number of times when I was the only one in the group doing what I do. Them bitches can check their privilege and entitlement and have a couple of seats.

      I have NO patience for this shit.

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    2. Agreed. I'll just will go on about my work, educating and encouraging people. I could care less about them.

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    3. Entertainment that Educates.
      see www.BiggaFiggaMedia.blogspot.com

      Delete
  2. Can't those racists makeup their up their paranoid minds. If we're doing something positive with our lives its being uppidity and being "racist" God I didnt know that being an engineer who just happens to be Black and in a Black organizations is that (sarcasm). I always laugh when they try to compare it to racist organizations. Since when Black enginneering organizations like NOBCCHE every systematically tortured and killed White people .Some people can be so delusionally racist until they have no idea what they are saying.

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    1. Its like this, they can exclude you, but don't you dare try to exclude them, its the American way.

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  3. This is mostly about attention. When Black women get attention, white women try to find some way to shift the spotlight. No one's forcing these women to do anything, no one's dragging them anywhere, no one's even telling them to stay out of this event, and yet by their emails you'd think some had had dragged them to a Malcolm X speech at gunpoint.

    It's classic WWT and it's bullshit and we are done.

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  4. "The constant need for affirmation of White Excellence and Beauty and Specialness is beyond narcissistic, it is bordering on mental illness."
    No. It IS already a mental illness. You can tell just by those responses. Nothing else makes any sense. This is a pathology never doubt that. Trust me on this. It takes one to know one and I know a brain malfunction (i.e. behavioral health issue) when I see one.

    I remember somewhere in grade school years my parents enrolled me in a Summer course For Girls Who Hate Math. I fit that bill alright. They knew good and damn well that I would probably be the only or one of maybe two or three at the most girl/s of color in that class. And yes I was. I kept my head down, learned about the language and beauty of math and never looked back. I learned it was ok to question my instructors and teachers if I didn't understand something - and really to ask questions in general. There was that trade-off and I do remember being uncomfortable race-wise in that class, but I (and my parents) have no regrets.

    This ish right here? I say yeah fuck 'em too. Because the only way we are going to get ourselves ahead and put ourselves in positions to become a greater presence in typically white and white male dominated fields - is to focus on, support and encourage our young Black girls. Setting ourselves up to kick butt and take names in the near future. And if white people get their knickers all knotted up over what, why and how we do just that: FUCK EM.

    "and yet by their emails you'd think some had had dragged them to a Malcolm X speech at gunpoint."
    GURL.
    you ain't neva lied

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  5. Entertainment that Educates.
    See www.BiggaFiggaMedia.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. As a black girl trying to get into medicine, I know all too well the feeling of being the only black girl. Heck, most of the time I was the only black person. Even in my MCAT prep course that just finished there were only two black girls including myself. And I know the feeling of thinking I'm not wanted there or I don't belong. But I keep on pressing because this is my dream. This program wasn't excluding whites, just not making them the focus. But to them that's enough because the world is a horrible place once little Johnny or Suzy have to share the spotlight with icky POC, especially blacks.

    Get drunk off the White Whine and eat a bag of dicks with onions and hot sauce, haters. We're here and we gonna stay here.

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    1. Girl, when you start interviewing for med school, be sure to try to talk to black people other than the ones they will shove in your face. Please do that. You need to get the real story on any med school you attend, b/c some of them have a lot of shenanigans going on they will use to purge the school of black faces.

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    2. I already know they gonna be mad and throwing mad shade my way. I've had the experience of being the only black girl or one of a few many times and have seen and heard how low people go when they feel threatened. I've been talking to med students and residents. I've already cut schools out of my list because of the clownery they pull on black students. But I know medicine is where I wanna be and I hope my story will encourage those who will come after me.

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    3. Oh no, definitely do it. We are horribly underrpresented and not b/c we don't work as hard as the Asians even though people love that story. I was speaking from experience. Lots of clownery and double standards. You'd be amazed what they excuse when it involves white or Asian students. You know how it goes...if they struggle it's b/c of family problems or mental issues, and if black students struggle it's because they were too dumb to be there. If they cheat it's b/c of intense pressure to succeeed and are given a pass(that really happened), if we cheat we are again too dumb and I have no doubt would be expelled(never saw anyone do it b/c I think we know better, plus if a black student had been caught, that mess would have been made public). Some schools will recruit black students and then manage to "purge" them all by the time graduation rolls around.
      So check those AAMC stats although some of them are lies. One of my friends is an MD/PhD and as an academic still has to fight a lot of battles. She found a great new position that is giving her all that asked for and more, but for example, saw that even though her soon to be past school was not giving her what she deserved, she is the ONLY black women on the faculty of any US medical school with her particular specialty. The ONLY. And they love to trot her picture and stuff out when it suits them.
      So do your thing, pic your school carefully, and try to find one that actually wants to make black doctors and not black med school drop outs.
      Some of those schools just make sure to have enough people in their first year class that they qualify for certain types of funding and so they don't get investigated but the trick they discovered is that not graduating black students isn't a problem.
      I knew someone who was forced to start first year over 3 times due to a life-threatening illness...start over from scratch, attend all classes and re-take all tests despite having finished and done well until his illness had recurred(and these were consecutive years, not like he was out 2-3 years and returning). Same school let a white girl exit after the stress of breaking with a boyfriend,and she got to sit out until the same point in the next school year. They just carried all of her grades over. So yeah. It's that crazy.

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    4. ^And yet we're the ones keeping racism alive. Uh-huh. Sure.

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