Wednesday, July 01, 2015

If the Truth Offends ...

If what I am about to say offends you, get used to it and be prepared to be offended some more.  The University of Wisconsin and the University of California, and probably several other colleges and universities that I haven’t found out about yet, have begun requesting faculty to stop inadvertently perpetrating microaggressions.  Microaggressions are statements that may seem to be inoffensive, but that some people may find to be offensive.  Examples of things that professors are discouraged from saying because someone may be offended include the following:  “America is a melting pot.”  “America is a land of opportunity.”  “The most qualified person should get the job.”  “Everyone can succeed in our society can succeed if they work hard enough.”

I teach college classes, but I have not (not yet, anyway) been encouraged to avoid such inadvertent microaggressions.  To avoid being accused of inadvertent microaggressions, I would like to say the following as consciously and aggressively as I can manage:

America is a melting pot; you don’t have to abandon  you ethnic heritage, but you are free to if you want to, and making some adaptations to fit better into the dominant culture you find yourself if will make life more comfortable.  America is a land of opportunity; I have seen too many cases of successful people who came from backgrounds such that no one would have predicted success to believe otherwise.  The most qualified person should get the job.  Hard work may not guarantee success, but working hard and smart markedly improves your chances.  The function of educators is to help students become stronger and more self-sufficient, not to become weaker, more dependent, and whinier.  The truth sometimes hurts.  If the truth offends you, then the fact that you are offended by the truth is your problem; don’t make it someone else’s problem.  Life is sometimes unfair.  Do what you can to make it fair.  Otherwise, get over it and stop making life unfair for others.