RECORD your racism! Professor urges black Americans to secretly record whites

Who knew Big Brother really was a brother?

In a column last week in The Tennessean, a Vanderbilt University sociology professor urged black Americans to start using cell phones, video cameras and GoPros to electronically monitor their white fellow citizens for the smallest hint of “micro-aggession” and “backstage racism” that he insists lurks in the pernicious heart of every non-liberal Caucasian.

The idea, writes Professor Tony Brown, is to create an online archive of the untold instances of white people abusing blacks in America – abuse that leads directly, according to Brown, to the rioting, looting, and other lawlessness the country has witnessed in the “post-racial” years of the Obama presidency.

That’s right. “White privilege” is really guilty for the riots and chaos the country has witnessed, Brown writes. When urban blacks have gone on rampages of destruction during the Obama administration, it’s white America’s fault. And it’s time to do something about it.

Brown’s piece makes its main case with a litany of boilerplate and mostly garbage) complaints about how whites subconsciously engage in racism – white parents want the best school for their kids, for instance, and won’t care much if that means it’s an all-white school. (He doesn’t bother to note that black parents feel the same way, as do Asian parents, Hispanic parents and any other parents who love their kids.)

Then he gets to what he calls the “call to action.”

Black and brown (and empathetic or doubting) whites—grab your cell phones. Turn on the video camera. Or grab your GoPro.

For people of color, record the discourteous way co-workers or service industry workers or police officers treat you. Record your friends talking about the indignities and micro-aggressions you as a person of color, for example, face in all- or mostly-white spaces. If you happen to identify as white, then record Uncle Roy talking at a private family gathering about the good old days when blacks knew their place (what sociologists call backstage racism). Record how pleasant your interactions are with police officers doing routine traffic stops. Record whether and how the conversation changes when people of color enter the room.

Then let’s all post our videos. We can add our videos to the growing archive.

(Perceptive readers will note that Brown never explicitly writes that the recording is secret, but it’s doubtful Uncle Roy will be so relaxed with Nephew Liberal Snoop holding a camera in his face. And the bit about conversations changing when someone else enters the room makes it pretty clear their something underhanded going on.)

Brown ends his piece by declaring that turning the country into the East Germany of the 21st century, with every citizen spying on every other citizen, will be good in the long run for society as a whole, since there’s “no revolution without revelation.”

Aside from providing an opportunistic sociology professor with a crowd-sourced way to get free digital fodder for his next critique of American society – the same one that’s given him a cushy job at a premier university — it’s not clear just how that’s going to be good for anyone.

Legal niceties aside (some states, including Brown’s own Tennessee, prohibit recording people without their consent where they have a “reasonable expectation of privacy”), creating a nation of electronic snoops wasn’t what the Founders had in mind during that 1787 summer, and definitely not what Lincoln died for 150 years ago last month.

Then again, to a professor of sociology – easily the most evil of all the “soft sciences” – the East Germany of the 21st century might sound like paradise on earth.

Who knew Big Brother was a brother?

Brown’s idea of massive surveillance of Americans’ private lives didn’t go down well on social media.


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