Beyond generally pushing the idea of whites as victims, attacking affirmative action had a more particular payoff in how this issue intersected with class. The constant harping on welfare directed attention to nonwhites defined overwhelmingly as poor and dysfunctional. This pernicious imagery was challenged, though, by the growing number of nonwhites attending top schools, holding good jobs, and living in nice neighborhoods. Attacking affirmative action provided a way to paint even successful minorities as still representing a threat to whites, by portraying these minorities as “thriving in jobs that they had obtained, not through hard work or merit, but through affirmative action—jobs that under any fair system of competition would have rightfully gone to whites.” Closely related to this, the charge that liberalism gave elite minorities an unfair advantage created a racial spook with which to directly rattle those whites whose wealth typically shielded them from contact with the poor of any color. Railing against affirmative action provided a way to tell well-off whites that even they were at risk from the liberal obsession with integration: their jobs, and also their children’s access to top colleges, were under assault from do-gooder liberals.
In the short term, we can at least try to change the language we personally choose to use. I know many of my friends in our mad movement -- including psychiatric survivors, dissident mental health professionals and authors -- freely use the term "mentally ill," because they think it's more recognizable by the public. However, in the field of Intellectual disabilities, many groups now have campaigns to get rid of the frequently-used And of course civil rights activists have largely effectively fought the "N word." Frequency of word usage does not eliminate the pain that is caused, and does not make change hopeless.
How else are people subtly ridiculed based on race or national origin? Say an immigrant speaks English fluently but has a slight accent. The immigrant may encounter Americans who constantly ask that he repeat himself, speak to him loudly or interrupt him when he tries to engage them in discussion. These are racial microaggressions that send a message to the immigrant that he's unworthy of their conversation. Before long, the immigrant may develop a complex about his accent, despite the fact that he speaks fluent English, and withdraw from conversations before he's rejected.
Many critics, including Chinua Achebe in his essay "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness", have made the claim that Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness, despite the insights which it offers into the human condition, ought to be removed from the canon of Western literature.
Although Americans think that they live in a non-racist society, minorities today still live in the chains of oppression and prejudice through sports, schools, and social media.
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The First Amendment idea of free speech is obviously a good one. Indeed, the argument for it is sound. Expression is protected, even when stupid, hateful, and meant to be disturbing. Otherwise, the powers in charge start choosing who can speak and who cannot.
The racial scripts conjured up in this march were clear; but in this case, the First Amendment right to free speech went beyond the expression of ideas—repulsive as they were—and resulted in dozens of injuries, the death of two police officers from a helicopter crash, and the death of Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old legal assistant with a law firm in Virginia after being intentionally struck by a white nationalist with his vehicle.
Yet, the event was initially given the green light because of the sweeping protection of freedom of expression in the First Amendment. Few, if any other, countries allow for the exercise of hate speech by a minority such as the kind displayed in Charlottesville.
So please, become a pioneer, and together let's drop the use of the phrase "mental illness," and search for more inclusive and creative phrases. This is a reminder that our words and even our whole social reality of what is called "normal," are not forced upon us God-given by the heavens, but are constructs that we mortals all co-create, in our imperfection, in our freedom, together.
An oppressed group often seeks to redefine themselves as a first step toward liberation. For instance, many leaders of people we have known as Gypsies are asking to be called Romani. Look at all the permutations of language for African Americans just in the past century.
To voice their opposition to athletes kneeling during the National Anthem, many whites also cite their family members who have fought and even died in wars. Some even cite their Christian faith. They seem to forget that scores of African Americans are also veterans, are descendants of veterans, are currently serving in war zones or deployed, and have even lost their lives serving our country in the armed forces. And they certainly forget the centrality of Christianity in African Americans’ lives. The most beautiful patriotic statements I have seen lately come from veterans who disagree with kneeling during the anthem, but proudly state that this is precisely why they served and fought in our military—to defend all their fellow Americans (not just veterans) in their right to this very kind of freedom of speech and expression! I have seen standing together during the National Anthem, right next to their teammates who are kneeling, with hands on their shoulders-—making a , whether to kneel or to stand, and that is what makes our country great, our diversity of thought, viewpoints, and experiences.
However, most of us can still control our tongues, our fingers, our language, our writing... and our minds. An ancient peasant rebellion song, celebrates the undeniable fact that "thoughts are free" and could serve as our anthem.