Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I love stories like this, LXXXVI

More role-playing, this time at Arizona State University. It was part of required sensitivity training to qualify for a job as a resident assistant:
“They were basically saying that if you don’t feel the same way, you’re wrong,” [ASU Senior Ryan] Visconti said. “It got to the point that if you weren’t a minority or gay, you were supposed to feel guilty and that everything was given to you in life.”

Here's a glimpse into the sensitivity training:
To start the role-play, participants were handed coded index cards that indicated their race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Participants were then told to visit different “life stations” and create their “perfect life.”

The stations included booths for housing, banking, church, jail, transportation and employment.

At each stop, Visconti said he was given scripted responses based on his gay Hispanic identity [card]. He was told he could be a landscaper and live in a ghetto apartment or be unemployed and homeless. Meanwhile, students assigned white identities were encouraged to be business executives.

But Visconti said the students who designed the roleplay overlooked their own stereotypes, such as the notion that white men don’t have to work for wealth because society gives them a free ride. Or the idea that Christian churches are filled with bigots, and people who support traditional family values such as heterosexual marriage are hateful and narrow-minded.

Is it really true that the people that develop sensitivity training believe that one can only identify unfairness and injustice if one has been treated unfairly or unjustly? That white people, of course, have no concept of such things? These sensitivity trainers must yearn for consistency in human relations; the notion that everything only makes sense if one feels the way they do.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."

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