quitting academia on Salon and the origins of social justice warriors

The Hysteric’s Discourse

I’ve written before about Conor Friedersdorf and his use of a common strategy: pretend to like black people, then emasculate them when they complain about racism. This is what they’re trying to say, at The Atlantic Monthly:


The most notable feature is that the narrator is touching himself while talking about beating and choking a black woman. Still, we have to face an important truth: this group of social justice warriors looks like a bunch of ridiculous pussies in Yale sweatshirts, and it’s impossible to take them seriously. Their failures don’t happen in a vacuum, though.


They’re getting it from somewhere, namely the infantilization of the whole country. We know it’s true because somebody famous was excommunicated for saying it.

IT’S OVER 9000! What Went Wrong

As neoliberals took over the university system, they encouraged students to see themselves as passive consumers of a very expensive service. Some of the intellectual elitism was replaced with financial elitism, as the MBAs brought their values with them. Someone on Hacker News posted this amazing New York Times story from 1981:

For 1981-82 undergraduates, tuition charges alone are crashing through the $7,000 barrier for the first time. Total fees, including room and board, are not only shooting past $10,000, but also emerging strong on the other side at such pace-setting schools as Harvard, Yale, Brown, Bennington, Columbia, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford.

At several campuses, they carry such canny price tags as Princeton’s $9,994. Outstripping the inflation rate by several points, the increases will commonly be 15 percent and often more. A benchmark 20 percent rise has been announced by Boston’s Northeastern University for four of its colleges, where freshmen will pay $4,500 tuition, with a 16.7 percent rise to $4,200 at the other colleges. Cornell’s endowed colleges will go up 18 percent to $7,000 tuition, with housing and dining increases expected to bring the total to $9,864.

It’s not fair to single out “social justice warriors” for anti-intellectualism or childishness. SJWs are a product of post-9/11 college students and their Tumblrs, though. They can be the last straw and make someone quit academia, become a waitress, and write about the debacle on Salon. I’ve been reading Salon for a very long time, and it reminded me of how much better they used to be. One of their early articles was also about quitting academia. I realized I’m old, and the article is from 18 years ago, when today’s college students were born. SJWs might be crippled by lacking any experience of Before 9/11 Changed Everything. Or maybe it’s the internet’s fault.

It’s complicated. The declining influence of psychoanalysis is involved. What happened is that postmodernism served different psychological functions for normals and for Others. Was it intellectual avoidance or an insight into personal experience? The shared vocabulary obscured those very different goals.

Incredulity Towards Postmodernism

Someone born in 1981 might’ve taken the SAT in 1997, when Carrol Lloyd published I Was Michel Foucault’s Love Slave. It’s the kind of thing that got passed along on debate  mailing lists in 2001, when I was a senior in high school. How did it happen that that The Yale School is getting its inspiration from Tumblr and Psychology Today instead of Paul de Man. It was noted at the time that postmodernism died on 9/11. It was brought back from the dead so we could kill it once more after the Paris attacks.

Time warp back to 1997:

I am a child of Theory. I avoided this truth because I didn’t want to confront the deep, strange river of pretentiousness that courses in my veins. But lately I’ve begun to think my predicament is less reflective of a private eccentricity than of a weird historical moment. The moment when the most arcane, elitist mental gymnastics — Theory in all its hybrid forms — was reborn as sexy, politically radical action. The moment when well-meaning liberal intellectuals — who a decade before had dedicated themselves to activism, volunteerism and building social programs — turned inward, tending to their private experiential gardens with obsessive diligence. Theory offered intellectuals the same escape from the public world that self-help and therapy offered the masses. But unlike self-help and therapy, which never claimed to be anything but psycho-spiritual Darwinism, Theory draped itself in revolutionary verbiage and pretended to be a political movement.

For those of us who got liberal educations in the wake of this shift, being radical meant little more than voting when it was convenient, reading the newspaper and thinking about doing charity work. The only thing that separated us from the ignorant masses was our intellectual opinions, which we shrouded in baroque revolutionary rhetoric. The “tyranny of grammar,” the “subversion of sexual mores in extinct Native American tribes,” and the “colonialism of the novel” — these were our mantles of honor.

This was the intellectual climate when the college students demanding trigger warnings were born. Do they have the attention span for that sort of thing, today? They grew up after No Child Left Behind, and they might’ve never been asked to do “literary criticism” in the old-fashioned sense. 1997 was before “social media activism” and The Daily Show gave people easier ways of feeling good without having to do much:

Is this theory-heavy, fact-free education teaching people to preach one way and live another? Are we learning that political opinion, however finely crafted, is a legitimate substitute for action? Sometimes it seems that the increased political emphasis on language — the controversies over “chairpersons,” “people of color” and “youth-at-risk” — did more than create a friendly linguistic landscape, it gave liberals something to do, to argue about, to write about, while the right wing took over the country, precinct by precinct. After all, in a world where each lousy word can stir up a raging debate, why worry about the hard, dull work of food distribution or waste management?

Seldom noted: “political correctness” has to do with the Linguistic Turn in 20th century philosophy. The emphasis on “narratives” started with Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Complicating things, it was introduced into psychotherapy by Australian social workers who liked Foucault and did family therapy with marginalized people [this blog originally had to do with my own “narrative therapy”].

Critical Theory as Self-Help

Lloyd sees therapy as something else, as an avoidance of reality. It’s interesting that she views Theory as a quasi-religious self-help movement. Theory overlaps with the psychoanalytic literature. Gender Trouble is partly about Lacanian psychoanalysis. In 1946, Karen Horney wrote a sort of FAQ document about psychoanalysis, and here’s what she said about reading:

You will want to bear in mind as you start out that, generally speaking, your analysis is a private affair between your analyst and yourself. You may, however, find yourself experiencing a compulsive need to talk about it excessively or, on the other hand, to keep it unduly secret. Do not worry if you do. No great harm will follow either course and, as you would expect, both attitudes will come in for examination at the proper time. The same is true of your desire to read intensively in psychoanalytic literature. Do not take this too seriously. At times you will find that your reading clarifies some phase of your analysis; and there may be other times when it interferes. A good rule to follow is that you should try to understand what you really want to get from reading. Is it a clearer insight into your own perplexing problems or are you trying to fortify yourself against making a realistic approach to these problems by making them seem theoretical?

Indeed. Hearing about “critical race theory” and “whiteness studies” in high school debate was a positive thing for me. An earlier post also talks about this, but Theory can significantly affect how people (with privileged educations) think about themselves, especially when they fall outside “normal” race and gender categories. From Mixed Race Students in College (2004):

As an individual characteristic, the propensity to self-label or the desire to do so prompted several of these students into the Extraracial Identity pattern. Finding no one monoracial category that fit their self-description, students learned early–often in childhood–that there was, as Ellen said, “something wrong with the category system. It just didn’t work the way they said it was supposed to.” In college, the continued need to “check one box only” or to answer “What are you?” questions interacted with individuals’ desire to self-label, prompting some to defy categorization or to deny the validity of the categories. To declare oneself outside the boxes (“I’m Jamaican”) or to get rid of the boxes altogether (“Race doesn’t exist, therefore I won’t identify that way”) is as much a self-determination as checking a monoracial or multiracial box.

As one student puts it, “I feel like theory is pretty central to my racial identity.”

I suspect that if more students had been exposed to social constructionism in their coursework, and if other campuses featured peer cultures that supported exploration beyond identifying in monoracial or multiracial categories, additional study participants would have engaged this identity pattern…At the one campus (Ivy) where postmodern theory permeated the ethos of peer culture, half of the participants fit this pattern. I do not argue for an exclusively postmodern approach to racial identity, but I suggest that exposure to postmodern theory and peer support for active exploration of an identity not predicated on rigid categories (of race, gender, sexuality, ability, etc.) provides students an important alternative to mono- or multiracial identification. And while it is a difficult identity to sustain in a society that is predicated on the existence of monoracial and, increasingly, multiracial categories, the cognitive challenge of the Extraracial Identity pattern is one that undergraduates at a range of institutions–not only elite private research universities–should have the opportunity to negotiate.

She Dindu Nuffin

Theory meant different things to different people. This pair of stories from Donaldo Macedo’s introduction to Pedagogy of the Oppressed is telling:

I am often amazed to hear academics complain about the complexity of a particular discourse because of its alleged lack of clarity. It is as if they have assumed that there is a mono-discourse that is characterized by its clarity and is also equally available to all. If one begins to probe the issue of clarity, we soon realize that it is class specific, thus favoring those of that class in the meaning-making process.

The following two examples will bring the point home: Henry Giroux and I gave a speech at Massasoit Community College in Massachusetts to approximately three hundred unwed mothers who were part of a GED (graduate-equivalency diploma) program. The director of the program informed us that most of the students were considered functionally illiterate. After Giroux’s speech, during the question-and-answer period, a woman got up and eloquently said, “Professor Giroux, all my life I felt the things you talked about. I just didn’t have a language to express what I have felt. Today I have come to realize that I do have a language. Thank you.” And Paulo Freire told me the story of what happened to him at the time he was preparing the English translation of Pedagogy of the Oppressed. He gave an African American student at Harvard a chapter of the book to read to see how she would receive it. A few days later when he asked the woman if she had read it, she enthusiastically responded, “Yes. Not only did I read it, but I gave it to my sixteen-year-old son to read. He read the whole chapter that night and in the morning said, ‘I want to meet the man who wrote this. He is talking about me.'” One question I have for all those “highly literate” academics who find Giroux’s and Freire’s discourse so difficult to understand is, Why is it that a sixteen-year-old boy and a poor, “semiliterate” woman could so easily understand and connect with the complexity of both Freire and Giroux’s language and ideas, and the academics, who should be the most literate, find the language incomprehensible?

I believe that the answer has little to do with language and everything to do with ideology. That is, people often identify with representations that they are either comfortable with or that help deepen their understanding of themselves. The call for language clarity is an ideological issue, not merely a linguistic one. The sixteen-year-old and the semiliterate poor woman could readily connect with Freire’s ideology, whereas the highly literate academics are “put off” by some dimensions of the same ideology.

The key phrase is “that they are comfortable with or that help deepen their understanding of themselves.” What if postmodernism was doing the first for white people and the second for Others? The Lloyd article was quite explicit about it:

Back in college, I remember going to a party at the home of one of my professors, who was a famous Marxist. The split-level house was decorated with rare antiques from all over the world, exclusive labels filled the wine cellar, the banquet table overflowed with delicacies. Like an anointed inner circle of acolytes, we students sat around as our professors argued that Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait was justified from the perspective of the underpaid Palestinian servants who worked in Kuwaiti homes. The following month, while I was house-sitting at the professor’s house, his black gardener came to the door wanting to be paid. I discovered that my professor was paying the man minimum wage for less than a half day of self-employed work. That night as I plundered the refrigerator for the best cheeses that money could buy, I chided myself for not having doubled the man’s wages. But that might have embarrassed him, no? It definitely would have embarrassed me. It would have been acting on a belief, and action makes me uncomfortable.

This makes it unsurprising that postmodernism didn’t spark The Revolution. It attracted different groups for different reasons, and those groups were working at cross-purposes.

Creating a Life Worth Living

Lloyd speculated that her belief system was part of a “weird historical moment.” Yes. The point of postmodernism was that it was a worldview suitable for late capitalism. Late capitalism as understood in 1979, before the internet! Late capitalism, when Princeton cost 5 times less!

It turns out that Carol Lloyd also wrote a book called Creating a Life Worth Living, around the same time. It was about achieving “financial solvency” as a “creative type.” Her protege, Britt Aageson, held workshops on that theme. These are some of the testimonials:

When I started Carol’s workshop, I was an actor on the verge of throwing in the towel. I was stuck in a draining 9-5 office job, was plagued with low self-esteem, and was doubting the validity and sanity of pursuing an artistic career. The “Three Paths” exercise forced me to explore my career options, not through vague daydreams, but in vivid, practical detail. As a result I was able to see that I was indeed pursuing the path that was right for me but that the structure of my daily life was not conducive to achieving my goals. A year later, I had traded my dull day job for a more flexible freelance copy editing business, was making a sizable income from voice overs and commercials, and had the time and energy to pursue more fulfilling work in the theatre. The Life Worth Living process works because it is active. It is not simply musings on the trials and tribulations of the artist’s life; rather, it puts theory into practice by helping you recognize the building blocks of your dreams.”

Journalism was a promising career back then.

A Life Worth Living was the first comprehensive program that helped me connect the thousands of dots between my personal history, my creativity, my values, and that longstanding bugaboo, the need to make a decent living. I wove together my performance skills, my intellectual interests, and political convictions to launch a career as a journalist in public radio. I have an undying gratitude to Carol Lloyd. Finally, finally, finally–there was a program that dealt with the nuts and bolt of getting a profession and a creative life.

All of this is so quaint and before there was YouTube. Later capitalism sucks. Today, Lloyd helps white people make sure to live in white neighborhoods, based on the schools. Someone else on the GreatSchools.org board used to be a debater, incidentally.  Debate is there to train the lawyers, political consultants, and think tank nerds of the world.  It’s not that the people in charge haven’t heard radical opinions and explored them in depth.  They’re just amoral.

May I Please Be Excused?

It’s tough out there in academia, these days. Rani Neutill is a latter-day Carol Lloyd. She gave up on her dreams and became a waitress and likes her life better, now. There are no dream jobs to counsel people into, which is why Lloyd does something else, now. In the 1990s, she was getting paid as a writer for the equivalent of a Facebook post. “I got so wasted on my 21st birthday and said ‘the narrative’ to the guy I was stopped fucking to go puke.” Everybody’s a writer on the internet, now. San Francisco is better known for its tech bros than its edgy Generation X writers. The people who code stuff for the ads on Huffington Post might live there. Definitely not the “content creators.”

Neutill’s last straw was ruining her own class with trigger warnings.

The scale of the trigger-warning problem seems exaggerated, since her colleagues don’t bother:

I don’t know about trigger warnings outside classes that deal with race, gender and sexuality, but I do know that if you promote trigger warnings in subjects that are supposed to make people feel uncomfortable, you’re basically promoting a culture of extreme privilege, cause I’m pretty sure that the trans women who are being murdered weekly, the black men who are victims of police brutality daily, and the neighborhoods in America that are plagued by everyday violence, aren’t given any trigger warnings. Let’s be honest: life is a trigger.

She takes it for granted that “life is so unsafe that it’s crazy” and that she must’ve picked up racism from the broader culture. The need for painful self-analysis is also taken for granted. She points out that trigger warnings come from enabling people to avoid looking at message board threads that remind them of their trauma. Trigger warnings aren’t in the spirit of Frantz Fanon, Lacanian, at all. Does anybody read Fanon, anymore?

An old-fashioned, eat-your-vegetables attitude to reading about horrifying things has been replaced with an expectation of trigger warnings. This is a shift from a psychoanalytic sensibility to a self-help sensibility. Andrea Dworkin, another extinct thinker, wrote about the avoidance, denial, and emotional retardation essential to American culture.

It has to do with the school system, and the way the internet lets us all retreat into our bubbles. Bubble-bursting is antithetical to our brave new way of doing things. Neoliberalism is like cancer to the social fabric. This is a Washington Post editorial from Christmas Eve:

At Wesleyan University , Yale University and other schools, students have tried to silence opposing viewpoints with hysterics, budget cuts, dis-invitations and social-media shaming.

At other campuses, students demand trigger warnings for potentially offensive material, which includes everything from spiders to “fatphobia,” and tattle on faculty who don’t comply.

At still other schools, students demand millions of dollars of additional spending on new (sometimes single-race) cultural centers; the hiring of additional administrators; cultural sensitivity training for faculty; and ethnic-studies course requirements for all students. All of this may or may not improve race relations (which, to be fair, remain poor on many campuses). What it will almost certainly do is inflate students’ already inflated tuition bills…

One of the largest ongoing sources of spending involves huge age-specific transfers: Our politicians are paying off older, higher-voter-turnout Americans in the form of generous benefits that those older people have not paid for and never will. Which means the tab will need to be picked up by someone else — i.e., someone younger.

Older people themselves do not seem to recognize whose hard-earned cash is funding their hip replacements and motorized scooters, and they often insist that they paid for their benefits fair and square. But that belies basic arithmetic, as shown by an Urban Institute report comparing entitlement taxes paid and entitlement benefits received.

In other words, addressing racism is too expensive, and taking care of our elders is bullshit. This is why we can’t have nice things.

We can’t blame the capitalists for everything, though. We have to look the stupid in the face.

Next, I assigned a reading by Linda Williams, a chapter from her book, Screening Sex. It looked in intimate detail at the first blaxploitation film ever made– Melvin Van Peebles’, Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song (SSBAS). The chapter outlined (with pictures), the plot of the movie and all the sexual acts that were in the film. Williams’ argument is that Blaxploitation and SSBAS arose from a reclamation of masculinity by black men who were historically emasculated and castrated (think of the killing of Emmett Till).

I assumed everyone had done the reading. I showed one of the scenes that Williams’ writes about in detail. Before I screened it, I gave a warning, indicating that it was one of the disturbing scenes to which Williams refers. The scene shows a young Sweetback (played by the director’s son Melvin Van Peebles) having sex with a 30-year old woman. She finds him irresistible and thus starts the hyper-sexual evolution of Sweetback–every woman on earth wants to fuck him, including a whole bunch of white women. This, of course, is statutory rape. When the lights went on and the scene was over, two students left the room in tears. I was perplexed. I started to ask questions about Williams’ reading, how it felt to read about and then watch the scene, what questions of race and masculinity it provoked. Crickets man, crickets. Clearly no one had done the reading.

Later that day, I had a white female student come to my office hours crying. Between picking up tissues and blowing her nose she said, “I’m doing a minor in African American Studies. How could your first images of black people be that horrible?” I told her that I understood her concerns. I went on to explain how the class was a historical look at sex on screen and as the reading for the class articulated, it was one of the first film’s to show black people having sex and was important to film history. She still didn’t get it. She said I had to show some positive images, otherwise it was unfair, that the other students weren’t African American Studies minors so they didn’t understand race politics as she did. I told her that I would bring a positive image to the next class to address her concerns. Finally, she smiled.

That night I went home and thought about it, hard. Isn’t confronting difficult issues what learning is about? My classes were about race, gender, and sexuality. These are inherently uncomfortable topics that force students to think critically about their privilege and their place in the hierarchy of this world.

It’s not fun to talk about inequality. It’s not fun to talk about slavery. It’s not fun to talk about the complexity of sexual desire. It’s terribly, terribly, uncomfortable. But it was my job as their teacher to navigate through this discomfort. I felt like I handled the class poorly. I had kowtowed too much, so I went to class the next day prepared to break this shit down.

Overgrown children, no doubt. I think Neutill is right that it’s identity-related. Social justice warriors get called out, in turn:

I went to get advice from a colleague in the department. He listened and said that during that time of the semester, students tended to get testy. He thought it was seasonal. I asked him if he ever had such a hard time with his students and he said, “No, I am an old white dude, I really think that as a young woman of color they probably just aren’t afraid of you, they see you as a peer.” For the record, I’m not that young but he may have been right. And here’s the irony, all of the students who were upset were the feminists, the activists, and there they were, treating a woman of color professor like she wasn’t an authority while treating old white dudes like they are.

It’s unfair to single the students out. They’re from after 9/11, when the delicate constitutions of TV viewers might be upset by flag-draped coffins. This is the age of trying not to think about disturbing things and retreating into zombie fantasies or conservative media. It’s the age of the angry guy on YouTube’s belief system.

Another way of putting it is that America is too dumb for TV news. Nobody is really eating their vegetables:

The old Edward R. Murrow, eat-your-broccoli version of the news was banished long ago. Once such whiny purists were driven from editorial posts and the ad people over the last four or five decades got invited in, things changed. Then it was nothing but murders, bombs, and panda births, delivered to thickening couch potatoes in ever briefer blasts of forty, thirty, twenty seconds.

What we call right-wing and liberal media in this country are really just two different strategies of the same kind of nihilistic lizard-brain sensationalism. The ideal CNN story is a baby down a well, while the ideal Fox story is probably a baby thrown down a well by a Muslim terrorist or an ACORN activist. Both companies offer the same service, it’s just that the Fox version is a little kinkier.

When you make the news into this kind of consumer business, pretty soon audiences lose the ability to distinguish between what they think they’re doing, informing themselves, and what they’re actually doing, shopping.

And who shops for products he or she doesn’t want? That’s why the consumer news business was always destined to hit this kind of impasse. You can get by for a long time by carefully selecting the facts you know your audiences will like, and calling that news. But eventually there will be a truth that displeases your customers. What do you do then?

Turning to Ancestor Mao

Neutill had her own religious epiphany, in the end:

I’ve learned a lot about the world and myself since I started working there. But the most important thing I’ve learned is that I’d been an asshole for thinking I was a failure because I was going to be a waitress. I’d been an asshole when I’d believed I was too good, too intelligent and too educated to wait tables, even though I ended up enjoying it more than teaching at any fancy institution. I’d been an asshole because my co-workers are intelligent and interesting, but I had been looking down on what they do, declaring it my biggest fear and failure. I’d been an asshole because I thought that having a Ph.D. made me special or better or smarter than everyone else, when in fact, all it made me was, well. . . an asshole.

I looked back at those parties where I took pride in thinking I wasn’t tainted by academia’s snobbery, when really, I was just as much of an elitist as any of them. Hello, hypocrisy. Confronting my own elitism has been embarrassing. The realization that every time I was asked what I did for a living and got pleasure from saying I taught at Yale or Harvard makes me cringe. And yet I try not to be too hard on myself. After all, academia cultivates and nurtures elitism and entitlement. Clearly, being critical of it didn’t make me immune to it; elitism can creep up on you.

Now, I’m proud to say I’m a waitress. We pool tips at my bar. This makes for a community where we all have each other’s backs, and if someone doesn’t, they’re called out. Unlike the competitive environment of academia, working at my bar is actually about being in a place where people want you to do well because that means we all do well.

I’m painting an idyllic picture here, there are definitely rough moments and nights and days where things fall flat. I know about the debate over banning tips and raising the minimum wage. I am not sure how I feel about it, and from what I can tell, my co-workers don’t either.

Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside! Sort of.

Marxist theory is therapeutic for people because of all the self-criticism:

The worker who understands her exploitation in the workplace; the woman who understands her sexualization as being part of the patriarchy; the Black man who understands his criminalization in relation to Whiteness. Everyday people who “find their place” within white supremacist cisheteropatriachal capitalism are utilizing criticism and self-criticism to constitute a genuine agency (something we will explain later in the piece).

Establishing alternative understandings of our social reality begins first with recognizing the powers that be. Rejecting fully and fundamentally these oppressor narratives which define our everyday lives and understandings. This is a profoundly important self-inquiry and the starting point of any engagement with self-criticism; furthermore, this profound “self-inquiry” is impossible without a social terrain. The radical nature of self-criticism is dependent on an analyzable relation to the “social whole”: the means of production, labor processes, the patriarchy, heterosexism, national oppression, Whiteness, etc. The overwhelming structures, narratives, and hierarchies which we all relate to, as well as the mediating ‘events’: those everyday interactions which form our social reality often without our knowledge of such, particularized to transcend our recognition of general structures.

Our self-criticism is not only a deeply personal and singular transformation but one which is enabled by contingencies only imaginable in a social context…

It’s not by accident we utilize the term exorcism here. The spectre of white supremacist cisheteropatriachal capitalism hangs over the genuine agency of any revolutionary formation or radical. To paraphrase Marx, the minds of the dead rest heavily upon the living; the dead society, the bourgeois power in all its flows, weighs heavily upon the energy of emancipation. These spirits of capital must be exorcised from every fiber of our being and from the social fabric of the new modes we engender (e.g. radical social relations). The spirits of capital are always looming; moving on; appearing for a moment, a fleeting event, and then gone again. We find them where they are least expected, and it is where they are least expected, in the ‘uncentered zones of thought/action’, where they establish their possession over our intersubjectivity. They are dangerous to the project of revolution; to the “spiritual well-being” of the revolutionary and they must be struggled with at every given opportunity. Hence, the consistency and intimate nature of the self-criticism we advocate.

Now we should do away with our use of the term exorcism as the analogy with the spirits of capital is useful in as far as an illustration. An overzealous usage and we will find ourselves “chasing ghosts”. Not to mention the awful historical examples of this religious fundamentalism.

That’s a psychoanalytic sensibility. Interesting that postmodernism was a rejection of “meta-narratives” like Marxism and Freudianism in particular. An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis has this to say about the “end of analysis”:

Other misconceptions of the end of analysis which Lacan rejects are: “strengthening of the ego”, “adaptation to reality”, and “happiness”. The end of analysis is not the disappearance of the symptom, nor the cure of an underlying disease (e.g., neurosis), since analysis is not essentially a therapeutic process but a search for truth, and the truth is not always beneficial.

If those Yale students had criticized themselves more, they would’ve accurately judged the situation instead of feeling empowered to hold a struggle session about Halloween costumes with a white “master” at Yale.

They have a point: why should white people get to casually disrespect us? I dare say we’d be taken more seriously if we said “Fuck you. Nobody treats me like that.” If we’re going to confirm stereotypes, why confirm the ones that emasculate us? Why not the ones that say we’re superhumanly strong, have big dicks, don’t like you, and just smoked PCP? “It’s not about creating an intellectual space” definitely isn’t the most helpful thing a black person at Yale could say. It’s possibly one of the most elitist places in the world! They’re not going to treat you like equals if you say that sort of thing. “Even niggers at Yale are dumb.” Jesus Christ. What’s the point of going to Yale if you can’t use it to make people think you’re smart? Y’all ain’t representin’.

They All Look The Same