Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Activists still claim Internet memes recruit white teens stochastically, as in big Washington Post article

Caitlin Gibson has a rather challenging article in the Washington Post today, “Do you have white teenage sons?  Listen up.  How white supremacists are recruiting boys online.” 
The article goes on to talk about memes (Pewdiepie’s favorite art form), deliberately designed to normalize racist attitudes and introduced gradually, stochastically.

I don’t ever encounter this, or if I did, I would ignore it.
But I can think back to the early 1950s when I was growing up, in a segregated neighborhood typical of the times.  Think about the children’s books of the times.  “Little Black Sambo”.  Then tigers running in circles until they melt into butter.  It gets worse if I think about kindergarten in the 1949-1950 school year in a private home.  The teacher divided the class into “brownies and elves”.  The elves got to go upstairs and were the privileged ones.  I was a brownie (but I am white).  I got a definite sense that there was a pre-determined social position. Some antique stores probably sell old children's books and boardgames, as no one remembers the connotations of the past, until an activist discovers them. 
Umair Haque has called this the idea that some people are “born better” than others.  That could be reinforced by clothing or body appearances as perceived in those times.

So the idea of “meme” may well have come before the Internet.

The article leads to other articles, including raising kids to be “race neutral” may not work anymore.
Still, I am aware of plenty of “white” families with teenage sons.  No hint of any problems like this.  The key to avoid Internet misappropriation is activities (church, school, scouts, music, drama, sports, etc) in the same real world that keep some perspective.  My general impression in these families is that teens socialize outside of “race” without any sense of an issue. 
The science is simple enough.  If your ancestors lived near the equator, they probably needed darker skin to adapt to the sun. If they were far away in polar areas, they lost pigment (over hundreds of thousands of years and various migrations and mixings) in order to make Vitamin D.  That’s about it. 

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