In 1994, Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein coauthored "The Bell Curve," an extremely controversial book which claims that on average, some races are smarter and more likely to succeed than others. Murray and Herrnstein also suggest that a lack of critical intelligence explains the prominence of violent crime in poor African-American communities. But Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein are not the only people who think this.
In 2012, a writer, journalist and political commentator named John Derbyshire wrote an article that was supposed to be a non-black version of the talk that many black parents feel they have to give their kids today: advice on how to stay safe. In it, he offered suggestions such as:"Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks," "Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods" and "Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in distress." And yet, in 2016, I invited John Derbyshire as well as Charles Murray to speak at my school, knowing full well that I would be giving them a platform and attention for ideas that I despised and rejected.But this is just a further evolution of a journey of uncomfortable learning throughout my life.
When I was 10 years old, my mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, a mental illness characterized by mood swings and paranoid delusions. Throughout my life, my mother's rage would turn our small house into a minefield. Yet, though I feared her rage on a daily basis, I also learned so much from her. Our relationship was complicated and challenging, and at the age of 14, it was decided that I needed to live apart from her. But over the years, I've come to appreciate some of the important lessons my mother taught me about life. She was the first person who spoke to me about learning from the other side. And she, like me, was born and raised in a family of committed liberal democrats. Yet, she encouraged me to see the world and the issues our world faces as complex, controversial and ever-changing.
One day, I came across the phrase "affirmative action" in a book I was reading. And when I asked her what the term meant, she spent what felt like an hour giving me a thorough and thoughtful explanation that would make sense to a small child. She even made the topic sound at least as interesting as any of my professors have. She explained the many reasons why people of various political views challenge and support affirmative action, stressing that, while she strongly supported it herself, it was important for me to view the issue as a controversial one with a long history, a questionable future and a host of complicating factors.While affirmative action can increase the presence of minorities at elite educational institutions, she felt that it could also disadvantage hardworking people of different races from more affluent backgrounds. My mom wanted me to understand that I should never just write off opinions that I disagreed with or disliked, because there was always something to learn from the perspectives of others, even when doing so might be difficult.
But life at home with my mom was not the only aspect of my journey that has been formative and uncomfortable. In fourth grade, she decided that I should attend a private school in order to receive the best education possible. As a black student attending predominantly white private schools, I've encountered attitudes and behaviors that reflected racial stereotypes.Several of my friends' parents assumed within minutes of meeting me that my best skill was playing basketball. And it really upset me to think that my race made it harder for them to see me as a student who loved reading, writing and speaking. Experiences like this motivated me to work tirelessly to disprove what I knew people had assumed. My mother even said that, in order to put my best foot forward, I had to be patient, alert and excruciatingly well-mannered.To prove that I belonged, I had to show poise and confidence, the ability to speak well and listen closely. Only then would my peers see that I deserved to be there as much as they did.
Despite this racial stereotyping and the discomfort I often felt, the learning I gained from other aspects of being at an elite private school were incredibly valuable. I was encouraged by my teachers to explore my curiosity, to challenge myself in new ways and to deepen my understanding of subjects that fascinated me the most. And going to college was the next step. I was excited to take my intellectual drive and interest in the world of ideas to the next level. I was eager to engage in lively debate with peers and professors and with outside speakers; to listen, to learn and gain a deeper understanding of myself and of others. While I was fortunate to meet peers and professors who were interested in doing the same thing, my desire to engage with difficult ideas was also met with resistance.
To prepare myself to engage with controversy in the real world, I joined a group that brought controversial speakers to campus. But many people fiercely opposed this group, and I received significant pushback from students, faculty and my administration. For many, it was difficult to see how bringing controversial speakers to campus could be valuable, when they caused harm. And it was disappointing to me facing personal attacks, having my administration cancel speakers and hearing my intentions distorted by those around me. My work also hurt the feelings of many, and I understood that. Of course, no one likes being offended, and I certainly don't like hearing controversial speakers argue that feminism has become a war against men or that blacks have lower IQs than whites. I also understand that some people have experienced traumatic experiences in their lives. And for some, listening to offensive views can be like reliving the very traumas that they've worked so hard to overcome.Many argue that by giving these people a platform, you're doing more harm than good, and I'm reminded of this every time I listen to these points of view and feel my stomach turn.
Yet, tuning out opposing viewpoints doesn't make them go away, because millions of people agree with them. In order to understand the potential of society to progress forward, we need to understand the counterforces. By engaging with controversial and offensive ideas, I believe that we can find common ground, if not with the speakers themselves, then with the audiences they may attract or indoctrinate. Through engaging, I believe that we may reach a better understanding, a deeper understanding, of our own beliefs and preserve the ability to solve problems, which we can't do if we don't talk to each other and make an effort to be good listeners. 本文来自非常美文网
But soon after I announced that John Derbyshire would be speaking on campus, student backlash erupted on social media. The tide of resistance, in fact, was so intense, that my college president rescinded the invitation. I was deeply disappointed by this because, as I saw it, there would be nothing that any of my peers or I could do to silence someone who agreed with him in the office environment of our future employers. copyright verywen.com
I look out at what's happening on college campuses, and I see the anger. And I get it. But what I wish I could tell people is that it's worth the discomfort, it's worth listening, and that we're stronger, not weaker, because of it. When I think about my experiences with uncomfortable learning, and I reflect upon them, I've found that it's been very difficult to change the values of the intellectual community that I've been a part of. But I do feel a sense of hope when I think about the inpidual interactions that I've been able to have with students who both support the work that I'm doing and who feel challenged by it and who do not support it. What I've found is that, while it can be difficult to change the values of a community, we can gain a lot from inpidual interactions. 非常美文
While I didn't get to engage with John Derbyshire due to my president's disinvitation, I was able to have dinner with Charles Murray before his talk. I knew the conversation would be difficult. And I didn't expect it to be pleasant. But it was cordial, and I did gain a deeper understanding of his arguments. I found that he, like me, believed in creating a more just society. The thing is, his understanding of what justice entailed was very different from my own. The way in which he wanted to understand the issue, the way in which he wanted to approach the issue of inequality also differed from my own. And I found that his understanding of issues like welfare and affirmative action was tied and deeply rooted in his understanding of various libertarian and conservative beliefs, what diminishes and increases their presence in our society. While he expressed his viewpoints eloquently, I remained thoroughly unconvinced. But I did walk away with a deeper understanding.
It's my belief that to achieve progress in the face of adversity, we need a genuine commitmentto gaining a deeper understanding of humanity. I'd like to see a world with more leaders who are familiar with the depths of the views of those they deeply disagree with, so that they can understand the nuances of everyone they're representing. I see this as an ongoing process involving constant learning, and I'm confident that I'll be able to add value down the line if I continue building empathy and understanding through engaging with unfamiliar perspectives. verywen.com
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参考译文 copyright verywen.com
1994年， 查尔斯‧默里与理查德‧赫恩斯坦 合著了《 钟形曲线 》， 一本非常具有争议性的书，书中声称，平均来说， 有些种族比其他种族更聪明， 更容易取得成功。 默里和赫恩斯坦也提出， 缺乏批判性的智慧， 是贫穷的非裔美国人社区中的 暴力犯罪频繁发生的根源。 他们并不是唯一持有这种想法的人。 2012 年， 身兼作家、记者和 政治评论员的约翰‧德比希尔， 写了一篇原本面向 非黑人族群的文章， 而如今，该文章也成为 黑人父母建议孩子们 如何保证自身安全的忠告。 在文章中，他提出了如下建议： “不要参加可能会 吸引很多黑人的活动 ”， “ 远离有大量黑人的社区 ”， 和“别太乐善好施， 主动帮助困境中的黑人”。 而在 2016 年，我邀请了约翰‧德比希尔， 还有查尔斯‧默里 来我的学校演讲， 他们完全清楚，我会提供 他们一个平台和关注度， 去表达他们那些令我 鄙视和排斥的想法。 这只是令人不舒服的 人生成长之旅的一个新篇章。 我10岁时，母亲 被诊断患有精神分裂症， 一种以情绪波动和 偏执妄想为特征的精神疾病。 在我的整个生活中， 母亲的愤怒会让我们的小房子 变成一个雷区。 尽管我每天都在恐惧她的愤怒， 但也从她那里学到了很多东西。 我们的关系既复杂又富挑战性， 在14岁时，我决定离开她独自生活。 但这些年来， 我变得开始感激母亲给予 我的关于人生的教训。 她是第一个教我 从对立方那里学习的人。 和我一样，她出生并长大在 一个自由的民主党家庭之中。 她鼓励我去认识到 世界是复杂的， 充满争议和不断变化的。 有一天，我在一本书中看到了 “平权运动 ”一词。 当我问她是什么意思时， 她居然花了一小时 做出了一个彻底的， 深思熟虑的解释，而且对一个小孩来说并不难理解。 她甚至让这个话题听起来很有趣， 不亚于学校教授的讲解。她解释了持有不同政治观点的 人们挑战和支持 平权运动的各种原因， 她强调自己强烈支持平权运动， 意识到这个具有争议的问题 对我来说是很重要的， 它有着悠久的历史， 充满疑点未来， 和一系列复杂的因素。 平权运动可以增加少数族裔 在精英教育机构学习的机会， 也可能不利于来自富裕家庭的 那些努力学习的 不同族裔的人。 妈妈想让我明白 绝不该简单忽视 不喜欢或不赞同的意见， 因为站在别人的角度， 总能学到新的东西， 尽管很难做到这一点。 单与妈妈在家的生活 并不是我人生旅途中的唯一 塑造性的，让我感到不适的方面。 四年级时，她决定要我上私立学校， 以尽可能接受更好的教育。 作为就读于以白人为主的 私立学校中的黑人学生， 我遇到了带有种族偏见的 态度和行为。 学校里几位朋友的父母 在见到我几分钟之后就认定 我最好的本领只是打篮球。 让我不安的是， 种族偏见使他们很难 把我看作是一个喜爱 阅读，写作和演讲的学生。 像这样的经历， 激励着我孜孜不倦地工作， 来反驳对我错误的假设。母亲甚至说，如果想要 给人留下良好的印象， 我必须耐心，警惕， 而且要异常的彬彬有礼。为了证明我的能力， 我必须表现出平和与自信， 有较强的表达能力，并善于倾听。 只有到那时，我的同龄人才会看到 我与他们并没有分别。 尽管我经常感到种族偏见 和对环境的不适应，但我却从私立精英学校的 其他方面学到了 非常有价值的东西。 老师鼓励我开发内在的好奇心，以新的方式挑战自己， 努力探究令我着迷的主题。 下一步是大学。 我很高兴能够把对待 各种想法的动力和兴趣 带到更高的层次。 我很渴望能与同学，教授 和外部发言人 进行热烈的辩论； 倾听、学习并对自己和其他人 有更深入的理解。 虽然我有幸遇到了有相同兴趣的 同学和教授， 我渴望参与争议性课题的 渴望却遭遇了阻力。 为了准备在现实世界中 与争议进行对抗， 我加入了一个将有争议的 演讲人带入校园的小组。 但很多人强烈的反对这个团体， 我遇到了来自学生，教师和 校方行政部门方面的巨大阻力。 对很多人来说，遇到冲突时， 很难认识到将有争议的 演讲者带进校园， 其实是利大于弊。 当面对个人攻击， 当校方取消了对演讲人的邀请， 当我的意图被周围的人扭曲， 这一切都让我倍感失望。 我明白自己做的事情 伤害了很多人的感受。 当然，没有人喜欢被冒犯， 我当然也不喜欢听到 有争议的演讲者 认为女性主义是一场对男性的战争， 或者黑人的智商比白人低。 我也明白 有些人在生活中经历了巨大的创伤。 听到这些冒犯的观点， 就如同重温曾经努力克服的创伤。 许多人认为给极具争议的人 提供平台来发声， 是弊大于利的， 但每次我听到这样的提醒， 都感到很痛心。 压制反对观点并不会让意见消失， 因为它们背后仍有数百万的支持者。 为了了解社会向前 迈进的潜力， 我们需要了解反面的力量。 通过参与带有争议和冒犯的想法， 我相信我们可以找到共同的基础， 如果不来自演讲者本身， 就会来自被他们所吸引 或感化的观众。 通过积极参与，我相信我们 彼此间可以达成更好的理解， 更深入地了解 各自的信仰， 并保留解决问题的能力， 如果我们彼此间不能坦诚交流， 不能耐心地倾听他人， 就没法做到这一点。 但在我宣布约翰‧德比希尔 将在校园发表演讲后不久， 社交媒体上就出现了 学生们铺天盖地的反对之声。 抵制的情绪如此激烈， 我们大学的校长不得不 取消了这次邀请。 我为此深感失望，因为这样一来， 我和我的任何同学都无法做到 在未来的工作环境中 让赞同他的人保持沉默。 我在大学校园发生的事情中看到了愤怒。 我非常理解。 但我希望告诉人们的是， 这种令人不适的体验是值得的， 去聆听是有意义的， 这样并不会削弱我们的力量， 反而会让我们更强大。 当我想到过去那些 不愉快的学习经历时， 我认真进行了反思， 发现要改变自己身处的知识界 存在的偏见，是非常困难的。 但我感到还有希望，
当我想到跟学生的个人互动时， 他们有的支持，有的拿不定主意， 还有的表示了反对。 我发现， 尽管很难去改变整个社区的价值观， 但个人互动可以让我们受益匪浅。 由于校长取消了我的邀请， 我无缘与约翰‧德比希尔会面， 但在查尔斯‧默里的演讲之前， 我可以和他共进晚餐。我知道这个谈话会很困难， 也没奢望这个过程会是愉快的。 但事实上，谈话的气氛非常热情友好， 我对他的论点也有了更深入的理解。 我发现他和我一样， 想建立一个更加公正的社会。问题是，他理解的正义 与我自己的理解非常不同。 他看问题的方式， 解决不平等问题的方式也与我不同。 我发现他对福利等问题和 平权行动的理解， 深深根植并被束缚于 他的自由主义和保守的信仰中， 什么因素会减少和增加 他们在社会中的存在感。 虽然他雄辩地表达了自己的观点， 我却始终不敢苟同。 但对此我的确有了更深的了解。 这是我的信念， 为了在逆境中取得进步， 我们需要一个真正的承诺， 深入了解人性。 我希望可以看到一个 有更多领导者能深度了解 对立群体的意见的世界。 这样他们就能够理解 所代表的每个人的细微差别。 这是一个持续不断的学习过程， 而我相信，如果继续 构建我的同理心和理解， 并投身学习自己所 不了解的那些观点， 我就能够为此贡献自己的一份力量。 谢谢。 （掌声）