In Mills’s view, white supremacy is a system of power and domination, one founded on racial oppression and which provides material benefits to people socially defined as “white.” More broadly, critical race theorists such as Mills emphasize the role of European colonialism, genocide, and chattel slavery in producing intertwined ideologies of white superiority and scientific racism in order to retroactively justify the (continued) exploitation of people socially defined as “nonwhite.” And here’s the kicker: Mills has convincingly argued that the maintenance of white supremacy involves and requires “cognitive dysfunctions” and warped representations of the social world that conveniently serve the interests of the majority population. These distortions and cognitive errors produce “the ironic outcome that whites [are] in general … unable to understand the world they themselves have made.”

This brings us back to Mills’s rather esoteric phrase: the epistemology of ignorance. The word “epistemology” refers to the study of knowledge and its formation, so an epistemology of ignorance would involve creating “knowledge” based on … a profound lack of knowledge or stupidity. Using fancy academic language, Mills is basically saying that whites’ ideas “about race” are fundamentally based on misrepresentations and distortions of social reality, but their “not knowing,” their ignorance, gets routinely repackaged as credible, authoritative “knowledge,” even as “science.” But racial ignorance is not restricted to white folks, unfortunately. My sociological interpretation of Mills’s argument is that racist societies socialize all of us to be racial idiots, insofar as we are exposed to forms of racial ignorance. Moreover, this widespread ignorance sustains the racial power structure, and the racial order, in turn, helps maintain the economic power of capitalist elites. The powerful always thrive on the miseducation of groups they seek to exploit and control. As long as everyday citizens are fed a daily mental diet of white supremacist ideology, historical ignorance, and disinformation, the overall power structure remains difficult to detect—and oppose. Thus, becoming less stupid about race involves discovering how we’ve all been socialized in ways that obscure the realities of racial domination for the benefit of white male property owners.

Source: Fleming, Crystal Marie. How to Be Less Stupid About Race (pp. 34-35). Beacon Press. Kindle Edition.

Beacon Press: How to Be Less Stupid About Race

…find a love for identity politics…so that we can draw battle lines between those who want shame to grow on trees and those who want to overcome it.

Source: Video Episode 310: Live from the New York Comedy Festival 2018 @58:30 | Harmontown

Insightful monologue on shame and vulnerability starting @51:00.

Shame is not a weapon. Behaviorism too often forgets that. Drawing lines against behaviorism in education draws lines against shame and for equity literacy.

More on shame:

Shame is toxic. It is the difference between “sorry I did” and “sorry I am.”

Source: Shame is not a Weapon. – Love Learning….

Guilt is feeling bad about something you did, something you can fix. Shame is feeling bad about who you are.

Shame cuts off connection and thrives on hiding.

Dyslexia is a particularly powerful form of shame, and it involves a lot of vulnerability.

Vulnerability can be defined as true courage.

Shame is a very lonely moment.

Reading disabilities often match in intensity the level of shame associated with incest.

Dyslexia is a perfect storm of shame.

  1. Arrives at the time you are first being evaluated.
  2. Made harsher by lack of explanation. Fail without context.
  3. Reinforced by peers and institutions

Source: Ben Foss on Dyslexia and Shame

The closet can only stop you from being seen. It is not shame-proof.

And that is what happens when you soak one child in shame and give permission to another to hate.

Source: Hannah Gadsby: Nanette – Netflix

See also: Hannah Gadsby on Shame, Power, and Comedy

We should spend more time talking about how we change the environment that surrounds people and not the people themselves.

Source: The Gift: LD/ADHD Reframed

“Any authority within the space must be aimed at fostering agency in all the members of the community. And this depends on a recognition of the power dynamics and hierarchies that this kind of learning environment must actively and continuously work against. There is no place for shame in the work of education.”

Source: Dear Student

Along with phrases appropriated directly from the so-called alt-right, a small group of neotraditionalist educators have invented the concept of ‘school shaming’ to make their reactionary politics seem, well, less reactionary. Criticize a school for how it treats students, and you’re ‘school shaming’. Talk about structural racism and curriculum, and you’re playing ‘identity politics’. Oppose calls to shore up the authority of teachers in the face of supposedly out-of-control youth, and you’re ‘virtue-signalling’.

‘Slut shaming’ is an attack on women and their identity in a patriarchal society; it’s part of a power dynamics meant to keep women in their place. By extension, we might imagine that the phrase ‘school shaming’ similarly works to expose a harmful power dynamic where schools who publicly advocate for ‘zero tolerance’ policies towards students are somehow oppressed by people who criticize those policies on social media. However, the concept of ‘school shaming’ gets the power dynamics exactly backwards: schools that shame students through authoritarian discipline policies should be open to criticism. Ironically, those who use the phrase ‘school shaming’ are looking for a nuanced and sympathetic treatment of ‘zero tolerance’ schools that the students who attend those schools are denied. Unlike the empty concept of ‘school shaming’ which seems to have been invented by Andrew Smith (@oldandrewuk), ‘student shaming’ functions as a critical concept to name what has long been called ‘deficit thinking’ about students. When a school looks for teachers who “know how to act appalled over the little stuff”, that’s in effect asking for teachers who know how to shame students.

Source: ‘School shaming’ and the reactionary politics of neotrads – Long View on Education

Along with phrases appropriated directly from the so-called alt-right, a small group of neotraditionalist educators have invented the concept of ‘school shaming’ to make their reactionary politics seem, well, less reactionary. Criticize a school for how it treats students, and you’re ‘school shaming’. Talk about structural racism and curriculum, and you’re playing ‘identity politics’. Oppose calls to shore up the authority of teachers in the face of supposedly out-of-control youth, and you’re ‘virtue-signalling’.

‘Slut shaming’ is an attack on women and their identity in a patriarchal society; it’s part of a power dynamics meant to keep women in their place. By extension, we might imagine that the phrase ‘school shaming’ similarly works to expose a harmful power dynamic where schools who publicly advocate for ‘zero tolerance’ policies towards students are somehow oppressed by people who criticize those policies on social media. However, the concept of ‘school shaming’ gets the power dynamics exactly backwards: schools that shame students through authoritarian discipline policies should be open to criticism. Ironically, those who use the phrase ‘school shaming’ are looking for a nuanced and sympathetic treatment of ‘zero tolerance’ schools that the students who attend those schools are denied. Unlike the empty concept of ‘school shaming’ which seems to have been invented by Andrew Smith (@oldandrewuk), ‘student shaming’ functions as a critical concept to name what has long been called ‘deficit thinking’ about students. When a school looks for teachers who “know how to act appalled over the little stuff”, that’s in effect asking for teachers who know how to shame students.

Source: ‘School shaming’ and the reactionary politics of neotrads – Long View on Education

“Any authority within the space must be aimed at fostering agency in all the members of the community. And this depends on a recognition of the power dynamics and hierarchies that this kind of learning environment must actively and continuously work against. There is no place for shame in the work of education.”

Source: Dear Student

It is only now, a decade after the financial crisis, that the American public seems to appreciate that what we thought was disruption worked more like extraction—of our data, our attention, our time, our creativity, our content, our DNA, our homes, our cities, our relationships. The tech visionaries’ predictions did not usher us into the future, but rather a future where they are kings.

They promised the open web, we got walled gardens. They promised individual liberty, then broke democracy—and now they’ve appointed themselves the right men to fix it.

But did the digital revolution have to end in an oligopoly? In our fog of resentment, three recent books argue that the current state of rising inequality was not a technological inevitability. Rather the narrative of disruption duped us into thinking this was a new kind of capitalism. The authors argue that tech companies conquered the world not with software, but via the usual route to power: ducking regulation, squeezing workers, strangling competitors, consolidating power, raising rents, and riding the wave of an economic shift already well underway.

In a winners-take-all economy, it’s hard to prove the rulers wrong. But if the tech backlash wants to become more than just the next chapter in their myth, we have to question the fitness of the companies that survived.

Source: An Alternative History of Silicon Valley Disruption

I updated “The Spectacle of Cruel Laughter” with selections from ““Nanette,” Reviewed: Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix Standup Special Forces Comedy to Confront the #MeToo Era | The New Yorker”.

But in the course of the hour-long set, which was filmed at the Sydney Opera House (Gadsby has also been performing at the SoHo Playhouse, in New York), “Nanette” transforms into a commentary on comedy itself-on what it conceals, and on how it can force the marginalized to partake in their own humiliation. Gadsby, who once considered Bill Cosby her favorite comedian, now plans to quit comedy altogether, she says, because she can’t bring herself to participate in that humiliation anymore. Onstage, Gadsby typically speaks in a shy, almost surprised tone, playing jokes off of an unassuming, nebbishy demeanor. She clutches the mic with two fists and speaks softly, forcing audiences to listen closely to hear her. In “Nanette,” she seems to slowly shed that persona, becoming increasingly assertive and, at times, deadly serious. Her set builds to include more and more disturbing accounts of her own experiences with homophobia and sexual assault, and broader themes of violence against women and male impunity. But for every moment of tension, Gadsby gives her crowd release in a punch line-until she doesn’t. When the jokes stop, the audience is forced to linger in its unease. “This tension? It’s yours,” she says at one particularly upsetting moment, toward the end of the show. “I am not helping you anymore.”

Watching Gadsby, it was impossible not to think of the many women who’ve come forward in recent months with stories of abuse that were years or even decades old. You could consider the #MeToo moment itself as a kind of callback, a collective return to stories that women have been telling one way-to others, to themselves-with a new, emboldened understanding that those past tellings had been inadequate.

Source: “Nanette,” Reviewed: Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix Standup Special Forces Comedy to Confront the #MeToo Era | The New Yorker

Building an education system around ‘meritocracy’ as it is commonly used post-Thatcher may be a function of those in power being so privileged that they are not in a position to see their own privilege. Those who have never witnessed people having to work three jobs to keep their family afloat may not understand why parents can’t do more to coach their children through an entrance examination.

Given that we’re unlikely to recapture the original meaning of the word, I’d like to see meritocracy consigned to the dustbin of history as an outdated approach to society. At a time in history when we seek to be inclusive, to recognise and celebrate diversity, the use of meritocratic practices seems reactionary and regressive. Meritocracy applies a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach that – no surprises here – just happens to privilege those already in positions of power.

We’re now at a stage where meritocratic approaches to society are baked into our education systems. And they’re not working, even on their own terms. Even if you approach education on instrumentalist terms – for example, as being all about life skills or ensuring young people end up in employment – it’s not working. Employers are increasingly turning to alternative methods of hiring and away from formal academic credentials. They recognise that there is a direct connection between affluence and performance in school.

A simplistic meritocratic approach to society and our education systems has failed. It’s time to stop ‘doubling-down’ on narrow education targets and results that privilege the few and, instead, embrace more holistic, open approach such as Connected Learning and microcredentialing.

As a parent with an embarrassment of almost-worthless degree certificates to my name, I owe it to my children, and those everywhere, to help build a better, non-meritocratic system. Let’s raise all the boats in the harbour, rather than focus on those that are already shiny and seaworthy.

Source: Why It’s Time to Let Go of ‘Meritocracy’ – Connected Learning Alliance

Whiteness is a social construct, created to protect and preserve power, that insulates and protects white people from having to understand anything outside the realm of their own experience. It protects the ignorance of white people and allows them to announce their ignorance loudly and confidently, often with no pushback (because no one else in their circle knows any better either).

Source: In Defense of the Powerful: Jen Hatmaker, Ted Cruz & Respectability Politics — Tori Williams Douglass