Analysis of a Racism Hoax at Oberlin College
It is often alleged that American society is racist, even though it is acknowledged that overt expressions of racism are extremely rare. How do people know that it is racist, then? This chapter raises the possibility that this claim of racism is often based on a projection. The value of the father’s accomplishments, through which he attempted to gain mother’s love, has been denied and assertions of their value are projected onto the father and experienced as white supremacy and racism. Among those who adopt this view, it provides the basis for their experience of the world, and of their proper place within it, but this view of the world is entirely in the mind and hence rests on faith. They need to keep this faith constantly renewed. I illustrate this through an analysis of the response, centering around an anti-racist convocation, to an efflorescence of racist material at Oberlin College in 2013. In fact, the material had been produced as part of a hoax. The administration knew that, but let the convocation proceed anyway. Why was that? I compare the convocation to a religious revival meeting, for which the provenance of the provocative material was not an important consideration. Within exclusively maternal psychology, by playing along with this, the administration was just doing what it thought was its job.
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