On Systemic Racism

‘Systemic Racism’: An Uncontestable Axiom


Here’s the thing: how can we know if these claims made in the letter are true? Is there any way to contest them, to falsify them? Practically speaking, I don’t think there is. You’re going to be the manager who tells black people who signed the letter that actually, their claims are in any way inaccurate, unfair, or wrong? Unthinkable. Don’t misunderstand: these grievances might well be justified. My point is that for all intents and purposes, in this cultural environment, it is impossible to challenge them. I was googling today and found an interview on YouTube with a black undergraduate at Princeton, who asserted that the university was racist. The interviewer asked him for examples of Princeton’s racism. He could not come up with a single example! But this did not deter him. He said that Princeton was “structurally racist.” Maybe it is, I dunno. But again, is this a testable hypothesis? If it’s not a testable hypothesis — I mean that as a matter of cultural politics — then what does that mean? It means that if you are part of an “oppressed minority,” you can get whatever you want just by demanding it, because those running our institutions lack the confidence to challenge you.
Comment: Yup