A career on the color of my skin

November 26, 2013 § 4 Comments

IMG_4374[1]First, a late submission to Hope Jahren’s #ManicureMonday subversion of the ridiculous social media meme of Seventeen Magazine. I am not fond of bimbofication culture in the least and I am even less fond of it as a parent of female offspring.

So yeah, here’s what my manicure less nails do at work, most days.

On to today’s topic spurred by an epic troll from the DM

Jesus christ on a popsicle stick.

Look, I know this person has a long history of unstable pronouncements on the Internet. And I know this person has been placed in a really, really shitty public position lately.

But that situation is only tangentially (and temporally) related to the issue involving Danielle Lee.

The entire sentence is as follows:

If Danielle wants to leave science and make a career out of the color of her skin, I think it would be a shame for science to lose her, but again, go for it!

This is so ridiculously offensive I hardly know where to start.

As you can tell from the figure above, the color of my skin is categorized, in these here United States at present, along with Danielle’s much more frequently than with that of the author of that ridiculous comment. I point this out so that in the event the intemperate author happens by here she will understand that her comments are not a theoretical issue to me. I am not defending Dr. Lee so much as I am defending my own reactions.

There is no reasonable way to interpret that ridiculous comment of hers in any other way than as a recitation of a pervasive right wing meme that people who are minorities have some fabulous advantage due to the color of their skin. And that they can “make a career” out of this fantastic birthright.

This is false.

Don’t get me wrong, the phenomenon of “Rev Inc” is not entirely a right wing fantasy. There are indeed people who make careers out of defending and promoting the status and rights of underrepresented groups in this country. Including those who happen to share the skin tone that is one of several defining characteristics of the class under discussion.

Does this mean that they are making a career out of their skin color? Of course not. They are making a career out of addressing substantive issues of public policy and civil rights that are specifically relevant to people who share their skin color.

The suggestion that it is about profiting from one’s skin tone is a direct attack on the very substantive issues of equality and opportunity available to different subpopulations in the US. It is a direct attack on the legitimacy of the situation with Dr. Lee and the piss poor response of Scientific American to her blog post calling out some yahoo for expecting her to blog elsewhere for free. It is a direct attack on the notion that the experiences and reactions of someone who is not of majority culture are legitimate and in need of hearing. It is basically telling Dr. Lee, and those like her, to never mention a perspective that is informed by the color of her skin and the way that society treats her because of that feature.

Lest one be accused of making a career on the basis of skin tone.

I don’t ask for an apology from the original author of these comments. I don’t really care one bit if the comment was a result of striking out in anger and pain or whether it betrays a fairly confirmed mindset. I don’t even particularly think anyone should front her all mad-like.

What I do want is for you to forward me any job opportunities that involve easy money on the basis of my skin tone1.

That would be sweet.

__
1See Figure 1.

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§ 4 Responses to A career on the color of my skin

  • cczivko says:

    Isis, you got the context really, really, regrettably wrong. I admit that this is my fault, but mainly because this wasn’t the main topic of my comment. I appreciate and respect you wanting to do the right thing here, but Danielle knows where I’m coming from….and where I am, if *she* feels we have more to talk about. You really don’t need to protect her. She is quite competent on her own.

  • bikemonkey says:

    Well I do enjoy more solar enhancement Isis….

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