The Star or Star Metro has a significant presence in the daily lives of Canadians. In Edmonton and other Canadian cities, readers are treated to what is described by Wikipedia as “a chain of Canadian free daily newspapers . . ..” [Emphasis added.] I think The Star is worth every penny of that price.
Consider the December 17, 2018 print edition of the Star Metro Edmonton, the editors of which deemed it worthy to report—as no less than a “cover story”—what I would call the formation of a new social club on the University of Alberta campus.
The story is given an imprimatur of significance under the heading “Show of Solidarity,” although the original online version published December 16, 2018 carries the following headline: Black Students at U of A form new group to provide support and tackle discrimination.
The story concerns the formation of a “Black Students’ Association” at the University of Alberta and features its founder, Hanna Daniel, a second-year business student.
According to the article, Daniel claims the Association’s purpose is to “provide a place of open conversation and networking among the University’s Black students, whom she said sometimes face racism and discrimination that is brushed aside.” [Emphasis added.]
“Brushed aside” by whom? People who are so irrational as to make judgments about others on the basis of some physiological traits certainly ought to be ignored and not taken seriously, unless of course incidents are accompanied by physical force or objective threats thereof. In the latter instances there is police and a justice system long-established to retaliate.
Daniel alleges that it is both ” . . .racism and discrimination that is brushed aside.” The Star online version of the headline indicates the group intends to “tackle discrimination.” [Emphasis added.]
What is going on here? Racism is indeed a form of discrimination, but it is wrong in terms of how one thinks about being human. It is making judgments based on the unchosen, namely the color of an individual’s skin. It reveals a very primitive view of man’s identity determined by the unchosen. There are indeed many perceptual level differences between one individual and another but western civilization began to advance above the tribal societies when questions were asked about how things are connected; i.e., what are the similarities?
The broader term of “discrimination” ought to be examined with a sharper focus. Discrimination is the judgment of something as good or bad, as either a value or non-value. To lump it in with the “racism” example of discrimination is to attack the good as well as the bad. There is no virtue in such sloppy thinking.
The story feature in The Star Metro Edmonton perpetuates such primitive views of man. For the new “Black Students Association” this involves a focus on the racial trait of its membership, non-essentially described as “Black.” University students, and journalists, ought to be somewhat more demanding in their thinking. If the group were organized around an intellectually chosen position with membership open to all interested in that choice rather than the unchosen color of their skin, this could have been a real story.
What one ought to observe on navigating through reality is an endless variety of individuals whose characters have been formed by their choices and actions and who are to be, in the words of Martin Luther King, “. . . judged by the content of their character.” This hasn’t anything to do with physiological traits but with philosophy of life, which actually lends itself to continuous intellectual exploration.
Unlike The Star Metro Edmonton, which having chosen to feature this story ought to have explored it more seriously, I would “reach out” to Daniel and her group to encourage engagement with others on the basis of their intellectual inclinations, possibly finding areas of agreement, rather than picking on immutable physiological traits which have nothing to do with the essence of what it is to be human but serve only to keep in focus the irrelevant things that keep man in a state of conflict and arrested development.