Idiocies of 2017

Guest Writer Matt Monks, Delaware 105.9 Talk Show Host

The holiday season is a time of reflection for me. So many things I revisit and reevaluate this time of year. Friends, family, successes, failures, challenges – personally and professionally.  Then, as often happens, my mind races and remembers some of the idiocies of 2017. Things that made me laugh, shake my head, and laugh some more. Stories that make people immediately think “we’re all going to hell in a hand basket.” The things I continually take from these stories, and it’s important that more people remember this, is that they are not representative of the majority of our thoughts and actions, thankfully. Still, it’s amazing how many people cop the “Chicken Little” mentality. 

Just make sure you’re not one of them as we revisit these gems. Here’s a good one to start with. “Farmers’ markets a racially biased cause of ‘environmental gentrification.’” 

2 California professors are criticizing farmers’ markets for causing “environmental gentrification” in which “habits of white people are normalized.” San Diego State University (had to be California, right?) geography professors Pascale Joassart-Marcelli and Fernando J. Bosco contend that farmers’ markets are “white spaces” oppressing minorities. 

The professors, as reported by Campus Reform, say farmers’ markets are “exclusionary” because locals cannot “afford the food and/or feel excluded from these new spaces.” And here you thought you were just buying fresher food and more planet friendly items. Silly human. 

Then there’s this little gem – Not Being Stupid Is ‘Cognitive Privilege’ Now, Which Is Just Like White Privilege. The University of Iowa’s student newspaper (mommy, there’s that college campus thing again) has announced the discovery of a special privilege which intelligent people acquire as an accident of birth. This new privilege — called “cognitive privilege” — functions in essentially the same way as white privilege.

Oh please, do go on. Privilege in general is “the receipt of certain benefits wholly through accident of birth” and it is “undeniable that privilege itself is a reality.”

The author argues that people have no control over how smart they are. Life is a huge cosmic lottery full of winners and losers. Cognitive privilege is one of “many kinds of privilege besides white privilege.”

Then there’s this diamond in the rough – White privilege bolstered by teaching math. A math education professor at the University of Illinois (a university again? shocking … said no one ever) says the ability to solve geometry and algebra problems and teaching such subjects perpetuates so-called white privilege.

She says that addressing equity in mathematics education will come when teachers can understand and negotiate the politics outside the classroom. Further, she says mathematics operates with unearned privilege in society, “just like whiteness.

Is there no sanity one might ask at this point?  Fortunately, there certainly is. Like this story that brings balance back to the universe. Brothers Chris and Joel Hayes hail from Louisburg, North Carolina, and have recently stepped up to the YouTube plate to bring America a piece of their minds with a mix of politics, social commentary and humor.

They created a clip addressing “white privilege”.  In the clip, Chris says, “I can yell out ‘black power’ to the top of my lungs,” adding that no one would question his exclamation. But when a white guy screams “white power,” he noted that trouble would surely follow. The brothers also tore into the Rev. Al Sharpton and President Barack Obama, saying that, despite their activism, things are no better for black people in America. Neither of their points of view is particularly remarkable — except when you take into consideration that the Hayes brothers are black.

Will things magically change just because the calendar says it’s a new year? Of course not. But the absurdity that continues to exist for the few is certainly tempered by the sensibility as exercised by the many.  May you have a blessed, safe and prosperous 2018, from me and my family to yours, Cheers.

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