Imagine, if you will, a news release that opens with this statement: a dozen of white-led newsrooms from across the United States have been selected to be part of the inaugural cohort of the White Media Product Strategy Program.
What would you call this statement? Racist or racist?
America’s Editor&Publisher, the country’s major journalism organisation, announced in their newsletter the other day that (verbatim quote): Twelve Black-led newsrooms from across the United States have been selected to be part of the inaugural cohort of the Black Media Product Strategy Program.
End of quote.
The story by someone named Craig Newmark, who is described as Graduate School of Journalism (meaning just precisely what?) goes on to explain what the deal is all about: a six-month, tuition-free program to train black-owned newsrooms so they know how to build product strategies for digital transformation, audience growth and sustainability.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation helped fund the program. J+ and the Center for Community Media’s Black Media Initiative at New York City University’s Newmark Graduate School of Journalism developed the idea. All kinds of newsrooms, from digital-first organisations to legacy publications, from recently-launched solopreneurs to decades-old large newsrooms, will join, Newmark describes the plan. He then lists the participating publications, explaining that they come from all over the United States, as well as diasporic communities in Africa and the Caribbean. What he meant by the latter description remains in the air.
Of course, throughout the story, as published by Editor&Publisher, the word black is capitalised to a degree where one wonders whether they would capitalise it even in a description saying that this or that person was seen wearing a black boiler hat.
Way up north
North of the 49th parallel, Canada has gone a couple of steps further: Not to be outdone, Canada’s federal government has been announcing what they call initiatives galore.
Taxpayers (not private funds as happens in the U.S.) will foot the bill for federal government’s funding of black entrepreneurship. It may very well be that the American sponsors will get to write their sponsorship expenses off their taxable incomes, but that’s another point altogether. Meanwhile, while they were at it, Ottawa’s politickers (politicians they are not) have decided that taxpayers will be only too happy to fund female entrepreneurship, too.
That this is called gender-based discrimination must have eluded them somehow.
And yet, this is precisely what it is.
Supporters of these developments, both in the Excited States and the Maple Leaf Country, will try to explain these decisions by saying that the poor black and the poor females have been disadvantaged far too long, and they need all the help they can get.
Sayings such as help yourself first, and that’s all you need to succeed must have never crossed their minds. Histories of the many wealthy people who had started with just small change (if any at all) in their pockets but were smart, worked hard, and, eventually, made it, does not exist so far as they are concerned.
All of these plans are based on what has been defined as identity politics.
One bias-laden description of that phenomenon comes from Stanford University’s Encyclopedia. Here it is, verbatim: The laden phrase “identity politics” has come to signify a wide range of political activity and theorizing founded in the shared experiences of injustice of members of certain social groups. Rather than organizing solely around belief systems, programmatic manifestos, or party affiliation, identity political formations typically aim to secure the political freedom of a specific constituency marginalized within its larger context. Members of that constituency assert or reclaim ways of understanding their distinctiveness that challenge dominant characterizations, with the goal of greater self-determination.
Another end of quote.
Merriam-Webster seems to be more specific (and lacking bias): it defines identity politics as politics in which groups of people having a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group. Meaning: who cares about our country, or about society? We’re it, and woe upon those who beg to differ.
We can go on and on. Even those who support this kind of politics wouldn’t dare deny that dividing people along all kinds of lines is the outcome.
The tragic thing is that people who support these anti-human policies are precisely those who yell racism, or discrimination, whenever somebody else describes their pie in the sky as so much gibberish or, worse still, when somebody demands that we all be treated equally.
What should they do?
No need to be a sociologist or psychologist of high stature to be able to predict what’s going to happen.
Instead of working hard, schooling themselves, working their way from the bottom up, people in the race or gender groups described in those quasi-support plans will line up to get as much out of them as they can. It’s normal human disposition. It is conditioned, to boot, by the tragically flawed U.S. President F.D. Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s. That plan made the so-called atmosphere of entitlement the norm, and the decades of its existence got all and sundry used to the notion that government will provide.
One can imagine the headlines: this or that support (initiative, if you will) has helped this or that “disadvantaged” person or group to become this or that success story.
Not many will see the newest “support” plans as so much patronising. Not many will stand up to tell their would-be sponsors to stick their offerings you know where (where the sun don’t shine is one way of describing it).
Bluntly speaking: not many are strong and proud enough to say that if others could make it, so can I, full speed ahead.
Not many are aware that succeeding on your own, without any artificial crutches, no matter whether private- or taxpayer-funded, is much more rewarding.
And worse still, not many realise that helping others based on their race, gender or whatever other distinguishing marks divides society and, as it continues, makes it well-nigh impossible to unite it again.
That’s the real crime of this kind of benevolence.