BBC News – Tal Fortgang not sorry for being white and privileged

Princeton University freshman Tal Fortgang has been told repeatedly to “check his privilege” – to be aware of how his socio-economic and cultural background shapes his views – and he’s not happy about it.”The phrase,” he writes, “handed down by my moral superiors, descends recklessly, like an Obama-sanctioned drone, and aims laser-like at my pinkish-peach complexion, my maleness and the nerve I displayed in offering an opinion rooted in a personal Weltanschauung.”

via BBC News – Tal Fortgang not sorry for being white and privileged.

This article is an interesting read as it highlights some concepts that I learned while studying the systems thinking modules as part of my Open University degree. ‘Weltanschauung’ was a term used widely,  and while it doesn’t directly translate to ‘worldview’ it is a close-enough approximation.

Tal is displaying some understandable frustration with this ‘check your privilege’ meme that seems to be popular among on-line activists. However, he is also showing the limits of his own Welstanshauung. He does have an advantage over many of his American cohorts, and this is not due to any hard work on his part but by the luck of his birth. White males in the west are much more likely to succeed than  ethnic minorities – this is the ‘privilege’ that Tal should be aware of. It’s not his fault and it’s not something he can do anything about, it’s just a consideration – an epistemological awareness of his situation.

He is only 20 and has most of his life ahead of him. His views are limited by his life experience, just like everyone else’s, and his worldview will change over time. Perhaps he will look back at his essay in a few years and wonder why he expressed himself in such a fashion? Opinions based on a personal Weltanschauung are fine and all but that doesn’t mean that others cannot provide their own responses based on their own experiences and views.

Tal is wrong, he should ‘check his privilege’, as should we all. We would all make more informed decisions.

Mary Elizabeth Williams writes far more eloquently about this than I can over at The Salon.

But what people often don’t like – what Fortgang himself quite obviously doesn’t like – is when someone who hasn’t walked in your shoes tries to tell you your experience. What people don’t like is when someone who moves through the world with a particular set of advantages writes an essay that uses the word “empathize” but then confidently announces that he lives in “a country that grants equal protection under the law to its citizens, that cares not about religion or race, but the content of your character.” Young man, if you honestly think this country doesn’t care about religion or race, then you are privileged. You have grown up in an America that has enabled you to not know otherwise. And I don’t need to you to be sorry about it, because you didn’t create that. I’d just love for you to someday understand it.

It’s not much different over here in the UK with our political elite; educated almost exclusively in expensive schools they fail to understand why the proletariat think they’re an utter bunch of privileged, useless tossers. It’s almost like they’re living in another world that bears limited resemblance to the reality of existing in a normal job with normal problems.

A bit of empathy – from everyone – would go a long way to soothe much of the discontent that exists between people from different backgrounds.

Let It Go

Ruby is utterly obsessed with ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen. To be honest, so am I (just a little bit). I think it’s one of the finest, catchiest songs to come out in many a year.

This amazing video has been doing the rounds for a while, but it’s worth a watch. Brian Hull does an fantastic job using the various Disney/Pixar voices throughout.

Scotland

This is a test to see how well Google+ posts can be shared with WordPress. So far I’m not impressed.

As much as Flickr is annoying me with its removal of certain features (especially the removal of the post to WordPress feature) it is a much better starting point for hosting images for sharing elsewhere. Sharing to a blog from Google+ seems too bloody hard.

Rubbish

A nation of slaves – Charlie’s Diary

One of my favourite writers finds a particularly difficult nail and hits in squarely on the head in his most recent article, and asks a questions that will be sure to have Daily Mail readers choking on their Nescafé:

Today, in the political discourse of the west, it is almost unthinkably hard to ask a very simple question: why should we work?

via A nation of slaves – Charlie’s Diary.

It’s a very interesting read.

David and Jeremy want your kids to die (unless you’re rich)

rutty:

Rufus is a proper shot in the arm for the NHS (see what I did there?).

Hope this provides enough impetus to the opposition to STOP the sell-off of the NHS

Originally posted on The Dog's B'logs:

So, last night I was on The Jonathan Ross Show with Robert Lyndsay. We’re promoting the show we’re in together so you’ll hopefully see us on lots of things together over the coming months. Well, in truth, hopefully you’ll just come and see the show :)

I also came out. Yes. That’s right. I know we live in enlightened times, but it was still very hard to do. In case you missed it, I’ll repeat it.

I’m… I’m… I’m going to become [bork]… a politician.

In May, I will be standing as a prospective Member of the European Parliament, and doing so for The National Health Action Party.

For anyone who follows me on Twitter, I doubt that my party of choice will come as too much of a surprise. I’ve been tweeting endlessly over the past few months about the dangers the NHS currently faces, but over Christmas, something…

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Thinking the impossible? Or wishing for the impossible?

rutty:

Love this. My work aren’t /that/ bad but you do wonder at some of the wildly optimistic assumptions that emerge from contract discussions.

Originally posted on James Christie's Blog:

At EuroSTAR 2013 in Gothenburg there was a striking contrast between messages coming out of tutorials that were taking place at the same time.

Ian Rowland was talking about how we can do amazing things by “thinking the impossible”. Meanwhile, along the corridor I was giving out a much more mundane and downbeat message in my tutorial about how testers can work constructively with auditors.

I was talking about how auditors are allergic to statements of brainless optimism. Plans should be based on evidence that they are achievable, not on wishful thinking that defies the evidence.

You might think Ian was contradicting me, but I was entirely happy with his message when he repeated it in a later keynote.failure is not an option

In my tutorial I referred to a tweet from James Bach that made the telling point that “people who say failure is not an option are in fact selecting the failure…

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