We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.

But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”. In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.

—  Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves To Death

To the young woman who approached me recently to let me know that pointing out racism was making racism worse, and to the middle-aged man who informed me that men don’t actually make more than women considering men work more hours, you should know that I figure out answers for those kinds of questions for a living, and your opinions about the harm of pointing out racism and the gender wage gap are about as interesting to me as your belly button lint. Tell you what, go tell a rocket scientist about a thought you once pooped out regarding the aerodynamics of her rocket. If she changes her designs based on what you tell her, we’ll carefully consider whatever future opinions you’d like to share about the social world. 

Sincerely,

A sociologist 

In social psychology, pluralistic ignorance is a situation in which a majority of group members privately reject a norm, but incorrectly assume that most others accept it, and therefore go along with it. This is also described as “no one believes, but everyone thinks that everyone believes.” In short, pluralistic ignorance is a bias about a social group, held by a social group.
—  Wikipedia
I would define racism as a system of social advantages and disadvantages doled out based upon group membership, particularly what we have socially defined as races. Among sociologists, we also talk about a newer form of racism known as “colorblind racism” (Eduardo Bonilla-Silva pioneered this work) that emerged after the 1960s, where the outward expression of racial animus and explicit discriminatory laws have been silenced or removed, but unfair racial advantages or disadvantages are still doled out, despite few people admitting to being devout racists.

sleepylump asked:

Hello! Do you know where the term "white savior complex" first originated from? I love your blog, by the way, thank you so much !!

Thanks! As for the term’s origin, I actually don’t. But part of the reason is the confusion over the phrase or term itself. I think a lot of people take this in the Freudian sense, like an “Oedipal complex” or similar usages. This individualizes the concept and sort of minimizes the issue, when it’s actually either describing a well-established (and racist) narrative trope in film, books, shows, et cet., or the White Savior Industrial Complex, which is a neocolonialist and capitalist enterprise that often involves missionary and charity work.

You would come across these concepts in post-colonial studies, sociology, performing arts, almost any discipline incorporating critical race theory, and history (if your professor decided not to skip those chapters…*eyeroll*).

The term “White Savior Industrial Complex” garnered a great deal of media attention relatively recently (in 2012) when Teju Cole made a series of tweets in response to some rather misguided media campaigns encouraging Americans to “get involved” in a political situation in Uganda. These tweets are cited in everything from post-colonial disability studies (Saving Face: Disfigurement and the Politics of Appearance by Heather Laine Talley, page 128) to Art and Architecture textbooks (Architecture’s Appeal: How Theory Informs Architectural Praxis, edited by Marc J. Neveu, Negin Djavaherian).

If anyone has a better grasp than I do on how the term originated or a general etymology on its development, feel free to add it in the notes or send me a message!

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