How forgiveness and self-empowerment can rebuild trust in education
This week on our Substack, Kobi Nelson writes about many parents who feel “understandably frustrated with the lack of curricular transparency in schools,” and teachers who “feel like they have been unwittingly caught in a culture war that has stripped them of their expertise.” Nelson explores the possibility of self-empowerment and “constructive rather than destructive” self talk as the potential solution this this lack of trust.
If we contextualize ourselves in a way that is negative or antagonistic, we will inevitably fall into this pattern when engaging with others. This kind of self-talk is what professor and rhetorician Erec Smith discusses when he writes about "intrapersonal empowerment." According to Smith, the intrapersonal serves as both a key to the door of empowerment, and the ability to walk through that door. To put it simply, the ways we regard ourselves internally affects the ways we interact with the world around us. This is important to think about, especially when there is declining trust within a community over difficult issues.
Lower Black and Latino Pass Rates Don’t Make a Test Racist
For the New York Times, FAIR Advisor John McWhorter writes about what he calls “the fashionable ideology of our moment, in which we’re encouraged to think it’s somehow antiracist to excuse Black and brown people from being measured by standardized testing,” and how other factors can and should be considered to explain disparities in test scores between racialized groups.
Let’s recognize, then, that calling something like a credentialing exam racist is crude — it flies past issues more nuanced and complex. Heath’s study doesn’t have all the answers, and there are many working-class homes in which children are prepared with the conversational and analytical skills required to excel on standardized tests. But we might absorb the reality that circumstances will leave some people better poised to take tests than others, and that will mean pass rates on such tests will differ according to race at least for a while.
Online Communities of Adolescents and Young Adults Celebrating, Glorifying, and Encouraging Self-Harm and Suicide are Growing Rapidly on Twitter
For the Network Contagion Research Institute, FAIR Advisor Pamela Paresky, joins Alex Goldenberg, John Farmer, Lee Jussim Ph.D., Loree Suddon MD, Danit Finkelstein, Cristian Ramos, and Joel Finkelstein Ph.D. to describe research suggesting that “a community promoting self-harm (specifically, ‘cutting’) is circulating graphic and bloody depictions of self-injury on Twitter,” and that “the vast majority of this content is in direct violation of Twitter’s Suicide and Self-harm policy.”
Twitter hosts a massive community that glorifies and encourages self-harm––specifically “cutting.” Graphic photographs of what appear to be bloody self-injury by people who have sliced into their skin continues to proliferate, many such tweets garnering unusually high engagement given the small number of followers of the posting account. Photographs and other images are accompanied by slang terms for blood as well as for the depth, pattern, and complexity of cuts. Photographs depicting wounds that are bloodier and more severe, more dangerously deep, and more complex in number and/or design of cuts are more widely circulated than those that depict less serious wound.
Martin Luther King's Personalist Vision
For Law & Liberty, Aaron Preston writes that while many across the political spectrum often invoke Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, “any serious consideration of the deeper beliefs that guided him in his approach to social justice” are “strangely omitted.”
Although Nussbaum pays considerable attention to King’s moving vision of a just society as elevated in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, her emphasis is on cultivating the emotions to which King’s vision naturally inclines us, rather than cultivating belief in the vision itself. But to focus on King’s rhetorical choices and their emotional impact in isolation from their doxastic bases, is to cast King as a sophist, rather than as the philosophically trained theologian that he was. Indeed, the fundamental differences between King and practitioners of common enemy identity politics are not rhetorical or methodological, but metaphysical: the reason King spoke as he did, and the reason he practiced “common-humanity identity politics,” is that he had a clear philosophical vision of our common humanity, understood not merely as an inspiring phrase or idea, but as a bedrock reality.
Why Teachers Can’t Be Activists
For Jewish Journal, Monica Osborne writes that the teachers who most profoundly impacted her life were those “that made it possible for me to be fully human: to think and ask questions, to always remain curious, and to continually ask whether there is another interpretation,” and how our current culture of education as political activism has made those kinds of teachers all too rare.
Over the past few years it seems that what I considered ideals for a teacher are now seen as dangerous. It’s dangerous to let children, adolescents and young adults think for themselves or ask too many questions. It’s dangerous to allow them to form their own opinions that may deviate from the politics of their teacher or institution. They should vote the same, feel the same about every issue from how to fight racism to how to define a woman to the limits of abortion, and they should become activists in all segments of their lives. They should chant and adopt mantras that prove their allegiance to the political activism they are being taught.
Six Unsettling Features of DEI in K-12
The Editors of Free Black Thought take a deep dive into Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs in an effort “to make available, for parents, educators, and all who care about K-12 education, information about some of the potentially harmful ideas and practices around race that have become increasingly prevalent in K-12 education.” The editors detail specific issues with DEI practices, and offer ideas for better alternatives, such as FAIR Diversity and FAIR Advisor Sheena Mason’s Theory of Racelessness.
We at FBT are confident that a better world is possible. We are also quite certain that the existing DEI industry does not have the practical or conceptual resources to help us create it. We hope that the alternatives to DEI that we’ve presented here inspire you. We truly believe that we can heal the wounds inflicted on our society by bigotry past and present, so long as we focus on and affirm what we all share as Americans and as human beings, created equal. Our children are depending on us to do so.
Lessons from the Tuskegee Study
For his Substack, Bastiat’s Window, FAIR in Medicine Fellow Robert Graboyes writes about the the Tuskegee Experiment (formally, the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male”) and how, rather than being “bygone history,” it is “a cautionary tale for our own time.”
We today do not inhabit an enlightened world where the ethical breaches described above are merely quaint relics of a benighted past. Collective good over the sanctity of individual lives may be again on the ascent. In 2021, the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges resurrected the Harvey Jordan-Abraham Flexner vision in their Advancing Health Equity: A Guide to Language, Narrative and Concepts. This document implored doctors to “shift the narrative … from the traditional biomedical focus on the individual and their behavior to a health equity focus on the well-being of communities.” As technology and bioethics researcher Christine Rosen said of the document, “[T]he tools of the medical profession are to be turned not to better health care, but to social justice.”
To hear more from FAIR in Medicine about the Tuskegee Experiment, join FAIR Advisor Wilfred Reilly, FAIR in Medicine Fellows Marc Buchanan and Marilyn Singleton, along with Cullen Clairmont for a FREE webinar entitled “What Can We Learn From Tuskegee?” on September 8th.