The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Join us in post-racial America

| Thursday, January 23, 2014

Katrina Linden’s article on Jan. 23, “‘Post-racial America’ isn’t a thing,” is tragic. You say that you “would love for one’s skin color or ethnic sounding name not to play a part in the judgment of his or her character.” I suggest you begin by judging yourself not by the color of your skin, but by the content of your own character. You state that “racism is very much alive” at Notre Dame and “there still exists a distinct tension amongst a fair amount of the student body.” You identify “those innocent enough to hold nothing but positive views of their racially diverse peers.”

Which is it? Rather than mock us as “innocent” for holding “positive views of racially diverse peers,” I invite you to join us. You suggest that “there are people alive today in America who fully support segregation.” There are also those who believe that Elvis lives. Unless you feel segregation is a growing threat, what exactly is your point? You presume that you “will likely be paid less than [your] white female counterpart” or that you “will likely be passed up for a job because a less qualified, but more Caucasian-appearing woman looks better.” These are transparently pre-emptive excuses for failure. You, and I, will succeed, or fail, not because of our skin tone or “ethnic-sounding” names. You are aggrieved, without any concrete evidence to support your victimhood. You state that “I will always be an ‘other’ in predominantly white America.” Permit yourself to check any box you like next time you are asked your race. Self-identifying should not make you uncomfortable. You indicate that you enjoy “being recognized as an individual with a rich heritage and background.” Doesn’t everyone? We each enjoy a “rich heritage,” in my case including the ambiguities of ancestral adoptions. Appropriately, I acknowledge that the achievements and sins of my ancestors are not mine. I am more concerned with the content of my own character, measured by my deeds. I find it shocking that you did not mention the likely sins of your German ancestors who slaughtered many Caucasian Jews. Your demanding that your ethnicity be respected contradicts your lament that “there will never be a point in which I can just be a human being.” Most disturbingly, you claim “we will never live in a post-racial America.” How does your letter, and your apocalyptic perspective, advance the goal of a post-racial society, and the human condition? I’m praying for you.

Johnny Whichard
Sorin College
Jan. 24

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


About Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor can be submitted by all members of the Notre Dame community. To submit a letter to the Viewpoint Editor, email viewpoint@ndsmcobserver.com

Contact Letter
  • thumbs up stick figure


  • kat

    You are severely misinformed if you think that I am afraid that my “failure” will inhibit me from obtaining a job. You entirely missed my point.
    I’m glad you were able to come to your own conclusions about my article though. And i recognize that your views will never change. How about instead of calling me a racist and whatever other names you can think of, reach out to the ethnic community of Notre Dame and ask about personal experiences of racism and prejudices inflicted by your peers rather than accuse me of fibbing, and maybe the answers to your questions may be clear.

    • Thomas

      Literally everything you write is embarrassing, ideological, and racist. You’re not interested in dialogue. You’re interested in finger pointing and playing the blame game.

  • Johnny Whichard

    Kat, you claimed that you are doomed to be paid less than an equally qualified white girl in your article. You have set the stage for yourself to always pull the race-card in your life rather than accept responsibility for your own failures given you have zero proof of being a victim of occupational discrimination. Yes, there are instances where disparate treatment occur and they generally end in the wronged individual suing a company. If you feel like you are being wronged, file a lawsuit…that’s how the system works in the 21st century.
    Additionally, try and understand this basic logic based on your article. You cannot claim you want different races of the world to view each other equally and then state you want people to view you as having a “rich cultural/ethnic background”. If you told me you were Mexican and stay true to Mexican culture, I’d say great. But when you tell me I should assume things about you based on your skin tone, I’ll refuse. Continue assuming things about people based on their skin color, if you wish…but I personally don’t believe in stereotyping.
    My biggest question to you is what possible good do you think your article did? All it seems to try and do is make larger divides in the Notre Dame family based on race.

    • Kathryn

      “You have set the stage for yourself to always pull the race-card in your life rather than accept responsibility for your own failures given you have zero proof of being a victim of occupational discrimination.”

      First, note that in the original piece you’re reacting to, you have consistently ignored the critical preface of “Statistically…”.

      Second, in regards to the ‘race card,’ seriously? http://www.counterpunch.org/2006/04/24/what-kind-of-card-is-race/

  • Matt

    First: Johhny’s gripe with the article was that Kat implied that she was absolutely doomed to be making less money. It’ll be up to her to negotiate her salary up to the level she wants, which is an entirely reasonable action to do. Sheryl Sandberg is a good example of women demanding a fair salary and getting it; according to her, women hadn’t been doing that very often. Yes, it’s not right that demanding a higher starting salary is the necessary action, but it’s better than whining about it and doing nothing.

    Second: if you’re going to cite an issue that is very contemporary in nature, cite articles that are more recent than 2004. That was 10 years ago, and it would be foolish to believe that today’s society hasn’t improved in that regard.

    • Kathryn

      “Second: if you’re going to cite an issue that is very contemporary in nature, cite articles that are more recent than 2004. That was 10 years ago, and it would be foolish to believe that today’s society hasn’t improved in that regard.”

      Dear Matt,

      There was a reason I recommended a trip to Hesburgh. It wasn’t because the empirical data has changed in literature from recent years, but rather because I only listed the references I could cite from memory. I am not being foolish. I just happened to be pretty well informed on this topic. Here’s a more recent article (2012): http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/09/14/1211286109#aff-1

      If you want more, I’ll leave it to you to look it up (there are many, many, many more). Of course, I realize it’s easier to just tell women and other marginalized groups to learn how to cope with the phenomenon if it’s real (be more like Sheryl Sandberg! Stop whining!) than actually read the data. The data can be a bit depressing–but such is life. On the other hand, I don’t think there’s anything conceptually incoherent in both learning how to cope with the phenomenon and acknowledging it’s real so that we may not merely cope but rather change it.

  • Vicky

    Mr. Whichard,
    While I appreciate the idea that you believe that we are on an even playing field, sadly as far as my experience goes, we are not. Have you ever been accused of being admitted to this University based solely on your race? Has anyone ever drunkenly approached you unprovoked and told you that they’d never be interested in you because their genitals are “racist”? These are only a few of the experiences I’ve faced this year alone on this campus. And while I would hardly accuse you of being a racist yourself and genuinely appreciate your sentiment that we are all the products of our work ethic and will be consistently treated as such, I’m afraid that experience keeps me from agreeing.

    I suggest you approach David Sikkink of this very university and pose such questions as the ones brought up in this article as he recently conducted a sociological study that exposed a growing divide amongst races as well as the prevalence of race based discrimination recognized by whites and minorities alike. Are all of his respondents individual failures? Or is there a more pervasive failure at work here?

    As to your blatantly offensive viewpoint on income and hiring disparities that you seem to write off as positively imaginary, I regret to inform you it is not. In comparison to the median earnings of a white male, a hispanic woman only makes 59.8% of his wage, on average. Black males? 74.5%. Black females? 69.6%. Hispanic males? Just 65.9%. So while I appreciate this post-racial idealism that has encouraged you to pen this response to Ms. Linden, I regret to inform you that the National Committee on Pay Equity as well as the Bureau of Labor statistics are on her side. So when you set aside your time, as you have so generously offered, to pray for Ms. Linden, please consider adding these issues to your meditations.

    Finally, the Nazi references were below the belt. You seem smart, that device was derivative, ignorant and beneath you.

    • Johnny Whichard

      Hi, Vicky. I appreciate your civil discourse! 1. If race-based affirmative action didn’t exist, you wouldn’t have been accused of being at ND solely because of it. Why not make affirmative action based on economic status as it should be? 2. I’m sorry you had to deal with a drunk person who decided to describe their sexual preferences in such a gross way, but I doubt they were actually being racist. 3. I agree this campus has a growing divide among the races, but I must say that a color-blind approach is much healthier than a finger pointing approach like Katrina’s. 4. The pay-equity issue? Stop looking at it from gender/race groups. INDIVIDUALS should ask for higher pay if they seek it out. Also, disparate treatment is an easy lawsuit nowadays. 5. Um, no. Katrina suggested that white people shouldn’t forget things like native Americans being killed/forced to move. I WILL NOT feel the guilt of possible wrong doings by my ancestors, If she feels I should, she should do the same.

  • Disgusted but unsurprised

    For the reasons that have been eloquently elaborated by Kathryn, and so many others, who actually have some factual basis for what they say, what you say here is absolutely baseless and ignorant, and only a privileged, white American male could spew such, well you know…You are the typical, privileged, thoughtless ND student. Congratulations!

    • Johnny Whichard

      lolz “only a white male”….nice stereotype. Keep spreading the hate!

      • Disgusted but unsurprised

        It’s not hate, but the identification, designation and elaboration of the most privileged category in the world, not just the USA, and the kind of typical ignorant hatred that it spews, that you spew. That you choose to ignore it, and trivialize it in such a passing and moronic way, is yet again entirely unsurprising and self-serving. Nothing you say will change the basic fact that you are speaking from a position of self-serving ignorance and privilege.

        • Johnny Whichard

          You don’t know anything about me. You are judging me by the color of my skin. You ARE A RACIST BY DEFINITION. Have a nice day! 🙂

          • Kathryn

            I’m pretty sure Disgusted is actually judging you by the content of your piece above and your comments in this thread. Noting that your behavior and attitude is typical of privileged white men is not racist. What would be racist is if Disgusted were to judge you for behavior typical of privileged white men on account of your being white and male rather than on account of the fact that you’ve, you know, actually behaved that way here.

          • Thomas

            Show me the statistics that demonstrate white men are ignorant, self-serving, privileged ilk.

            How would you have reacted if John had deigned to call Latino women ignorant and self-self serving?

            The fact that your don’t even recognize that is racist is quite damning.

          • Disgusted but unsurprised

            I see that your self-serving ignorance and refusal to think even for a moment is unending. That you accuse a minority women of playing the race card, a moronic expression if there ever was one, and then as a privileged, white male turn around and play it yourself is the height of irony and stupidity. To note a fact, namely, the privilege had by white, Western men, is not racism, but precisely that: a statement of fact. That you don’t see that this is a basic fact of our world is precisely why you wrote this ignorant, moronic article that has no basis in reality. Using all capitals and defining things out of ignorance won’t change any of this, but just close you off further to the basic, extremely well-documented reality of the world in which we live. But, like so many of your privileged ilk, who don’t realize how your self-serving, ignorance impacts others, who do not have your unearned privileges (read a bit of history or just open your eyes for God’s sake!), you will never see what is all around you, and will continue to perpetrate the oppression and injustice that the most privileged of categories in modern history, namely, white, male, western has for centuries perpetrated. This is a basic statement of fact not racism.

          • Thomas

            Ah, so referring to the entire demographic of white males as ignorant, self-serving, privileged ilk isn’t racist but a statement of fact. Please share the statistics that back that up.

            Got that?

  • duh

    Absolutely no one here should be surprised. Usually people that try to be “colorblind” are the worst racists of them all. Johnny Whichard has a long track record of offensive viewpoints and a gag worthy macho idealistic view of ND.

    • Johnny Whichard

      Um, sorry I don’t look at people superficially like you probably do? Apparently you believe we should look at people and take notes based on their skin tone? Do you honestly walk down the street and say “look there is a minority…I bet they are a victim of discrimination?” That’s pretty sad that you are bound by stereotypical thinking.

  • Disgusted but unsurprised

    God, your dense and blind! You’ll never see how deluded you and your way of thinking are, and society will be all the worse for it. So sad! The only response I can muster at this point is sad laughter at the way you “think”, if we can even call it that! Ignorance is truly bliss, when you’re among the world’s most privileged class.

    • Johnny Whichard

      Nice use of insults to try and convey an idea! 🙂

    • Thomas

      I’d try to maintain adherence to basic rules of grammar before calling others ignorant – but that’s just me.

  • Disappointed

    The Viewpoint Editor should be ashamed that they chose to publish this “rebuttal.” Yes, freedom of speech exists and Mr. Whichard is free to think and say whatever he wants about Ms. Linden’s article, but it’s appalling that the Viewpoint Editor would so easily grant this ignorant, privileged student a visible platform to spew his uninformed bullshit, a platform that “freedom of speech” does not at all entitle him to. Mr. Whichard, reverse racism does not exist. You being called out for your privilege of not being aware of your own privilege as a white man in our society is not reverse racism. Here, I’ll let a person of color explain it to you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dw_mRaIHb-M

    • Johnny Whichard

      Who was responsible for selling most slaves into slavery? I guess you forgot to read the truth. Regardless…this type of thinking does NOT promote a racism free society…this type of thinking promotes a divide in society.

  • Johnny Whichard

    Case and point. Stop being superficial. I don’t judge people on race. Please try it for a few seconds. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeixtYS-P3s