Of course, “Fiji” and “50K” are pulled out of a hat (rather than someplace else) to make a rhetorical point. But in fact thousands of inhabited Pacific islands and shorelands are facing just that fate, and Fiji may be one of them.

Don’t assume too much about me, either. It took a long time to get that anger even partially out of my system. Many fights, many scars, a great deal of self-harm trying to kill that beast inside rather than wallow inside it. Countless millions just like me—probably doing far better than I have. In addition to the countless million who never do.

I was just reading an article by Dr. Patricia Williams about the state and history of critical race theory, as she was there at the beginning back in the 70s when she was a student of Dr. Derrick Bell, the man who developed it.

I’ve been reading The Nation since I was a teenager and Dr. Williams has been a regular columnist there since 1999. She doesn’t usually write “articles” but this was a long one. She mentioned several recent incidents to indicate just why the teaching of critical race theory is so important. Here’s one example:

"In Traverse City, Mich., a community that is more than 90 percent white, a group of high school students formed a Snapchat group called “Slave Trade,” in which they ruminated that “all blacks should die” and suggested “let’s start another holocaust.” The contents of their online exchanges became public only after they’d held a slave auction, selling off their Black classmates for money. “I know how much I was sold for: $100,” said one girl who was “traded.” “And in the end I was given away for free.”

When all this came to light, the school quickly drafted a resolution to create a social equity task force committed to “recognizing that the actions needed to combat discrimination and racism depend on new knowledge and community progress.” But the draft resolution became the object of fierce resistance from some parents, who, as of this writing, have succeeded in editing out language encouraging a “social equity and diversity lens” for the curriculum; taking out a promise to add books by “marginalized” authors to school libraries; cutting mention of teaching about “diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging issues”; removing language condemning “racism,” “racial violence,” “hate speech,” and “bigotry”; and removing the statement “racism and hate have no place in our schools or in our society.” The largely parent-driven backlash has led to the excising of the very vocabulary that would enable speakers of the English language to say that slave-trading one’s Black classmates on Snapchat is wrong.

This story illustrates all the unfortunate dynamics of how not to talk about race—indeed, how not to talk about anything at all. It demonstrates the degree to which some parents view race as though it were akin to sex in the 1960s: taboo, prurient, something to keep hidden because it’ll give the children fevers and make the parents squirm. As with sex, ignorance about race becomes a secret excitement; racial disparagement becomes an indulgent exercise, a species of cathartic emphasis, like swear words. For many children who are socialized as not-different, and for the normatively comfortable adults they become, discussion of race remains stunted and infantile, too much like assigning “cooties”—loosely undefined yet cruelly specific. So you ban sex education in the name of chastity, purity, innocence. You ban talk about race that is inherently “divisive.” But when Americans of different races greet each other as though they had just stepped off a ship in 1492, let’s just say that the division is glaringly already-there. It begs to be addressed."

What she hasn’t pointed out here is that the overwhelming majority of these parents are narcissists as are their children. They may not be exhibiting the “typical” types of violent behaviors the DSM looks for, but those other symptoms are definitely present.

And it is a national disorder. When she says it is as if they had stepped off the boat in 1492 she isn’t kidding. This has been going on since white people came here.

Possessor of Paul Newman eyes. Author of the straightforward & strange. “Women zai shuo ba.” Be useful; share what you can; help others always. Doctor of texts.

Possessor of Paul Newman eyes. Author of the straightforward & strange. “Women zai shuo ba.” Be useful; share what you can; help others always. Doctor of texts.