I received an email from a young black man who said he was a fan my work. His name is Joshua, and he is a Conservative. Joshua is even more rare than the typical black Conservative, in that he is also a Millennial.
I’m posting his message, because he brings up an interesting point about Millennials in general. His problem get exacerbated due to his ethnicity.
First allow me to say that I am a huge fan of your work. As a fellow Black conservative I find your commitment to the facts to be admirable. I am contacting you to hear your opinion on the current status of college culture. As a conservative I have found that my opinion about many things is rejected on college campuses. Safe spaces, trigger warnings, and affinity groups which claim to promote diversity only end up promoting intellectual conformity. This leads into my question for you: “Should we view diversity as a community that is made up of different races, or should we view diversity as a community that is made up of people with different intellectual perspectives?” Also I would really appreciate your feedback on my article “Diversity or conformity.”
Diversity or Conformity
As a black student who for most of my life has attended primarily white institutions, I have often asked myself what we as a society hope to achieve with our efforts to become more diverse. Going to a high school with mostly white students I believed that diversity meant having more students of color. I was the president of the Multi-Cultural Student Alliance, and the Black Student Union at my school. At first I felt that the work I was doing with in both groups was fulfilling and that I was truly making a difference. However, after reflecting upon my experiences in both groups, I began to realize that not only was I victim, but I was perpetuating a system that did not truly support diversity.
When it comes to economics I am conservative. Upon hearing this most people only hear the word “conservative.” Since my freshmen year of high school I have been aware of what my true political affiliation is. However, I was well aware of the growing dangers of making this statement. By identifying as conservative many would assume the following stereotypes about me: I must be racist, sexist, homophobic, a sellout, an uncle tom, and just downright ignorant. I knew that as a student with five sisters, and having good friends who are gay, being labeled with such terms would be dangerous to any sort of social life I wanted to have. So I played the part much like many minority students claim that society forces us to act and be a certain way until my senior year when I finally had enough of living a life of lies and hypocrisy.
By my senior year I was fed up with myself. I preached about how we should not generalize and label, and yet I was a repeat offender of that. The reason I got away with it was because I was going with the status quo and saying what everyone wanted to hear. I even participated in an article that basically called my high school (a place that I love) an institutionally racist place. I said these things while my three closest friends are white. I said these things while I had great teachers who were the furthest thing from racist and treated me with nothing but respect. I said I was liberal, when at home I was secretly a huge admirer of the work of Ben Shapiro and Thomas Sowell.
I finally was able to draw the line when I overheard a couple kids accusing one of my close friends of being racist. Because he was planning on voting for Trump. My friend who had never uttered a racist word in his life, and a guy who I knew to treat everyone with a high level of respect was being accused of being a racist right before my eyes. He was not being called racist because of anything he said or had done. He was being judged simply because he saw politics from a different point of view.
I began to see the hypocrisy in the way I was living.
What if the roles were reversed? Would it be okay if my white conservative friend was generalized people the way he was generalized? It was then I realized that while I believed I was part of the solution, I was merely perpetuating the problem. It was in that moment that I began to see that instead of fighting against conformity and seeking to improve ourselves by formulating our opinions based on conversations with those who differ in opinion than us, we simply are forcing conformity and trying to get all people to think the same.
At institutions like [college affiliation removed], I found that the common goal of social justice is to fight against prejudices and stereotypes. And while I feel at times that these “stereotypes,” are blown out of proportion, any attempt at improving the circumstances of students on campus is admirable to me. The irony of this is that while it appears we are fighting to demolish stereotypes based on physical appearance, we have created a new breed of discrimination that is not based on one’s appearance, but it is based on how one thinks. The most bothersome part about this is that the ones who intellectually discriminate are the ones who claim they are “allies” of those who claim to experience discrimination based on appearance. Just as those who claim to be allies say they are fighting to show that they are more than just their skin color, gender or sexual orientation, I believe we can find a parallel when I say just because a student is black does not make him/her an athlete, being a Trump supporter does not make that person racist.
Us vs Them Mentality
With this new discrimination we have created an “us vs them” mentality that has become Black vs White, men vs women, rich vs poor. By having so many “us vs them” scenarios we have created what Thomas Sowell calls “Ethnic Polarization,” which means that we a creating a society in which different ethnicities are pulling further apart rather than coming closer together. I would continue along these lines and say we have created intellectual polarization. All of these scenarios are being pushed by elite progressive intellectuals, who no more than one hundred years ago were supporters of eugenics. Which was an attempt to prevent the breeding of people that would drag society down which included certain races. I say all this to pose a couple of questions. Are we truly supporting diversity or are we simply conforming to the common beliefs of our time? Ask yourself is there a difference between rejecting someone because of race and rejecting someone for how they identify politically?
I am not opposed to fighting for social justice. Nor am I here to invalidate any experience of discrimination any student has been through. While in politics I believe social justice has become more of a platform to gather more votes; Here at [college name removed] the affinity groups, and clubs are made with genuinely good intentions. I just worry that in our attempts to make everyone here feel safe regardless of how they culturally identify, we are suppressing the freedom of intellectual expression that all students should have.