I recently heard a young black male student give thanks to the fact that at my school, Loyola University New Orleans, for the first time in his academic career, he has had teachers who “look like him.” He meant that at our university, finally, there are African American professors. He was very grateful for that fact.
This young man is in grave error, and the present essay is an attempt to correct him.
I have a brown belt in Shoto-Kan Karate. Virtually none of my senseis (teachers) look like me. Well, yes, they all had heads, feet, arms, heads, and, I presume, the usual complements of kishkes (inner body parts), but that is where it ended. Many of them were Oriental (I know, I know, you’re not supposed to say this anymore, but I think political correctness is an evil that should be opposed whenever possible). Some of my karate teachers were female. Did I suffer from this? Would I have been better off if my Karatekas were old, white, fat, bearded Jews like me? Hardly. The criterion I sensibly employed in my selection was not “lookism” but rather ability to teach this discipline.
Do I look more like this grateful student than a black female professor? It is difficult to tell. On the one hand, he and I share the same indoor plumbing. On the other hand, he and she have different pigments in their skin than I.
I identify with the New Orleans Pelicans. Yet, apart from maleness (and age and athletic ability too!), virtually none of them “look like me.” Should I be perturbed at that fact? Should I petition management to fire a few of the present black team members and hire some Caucasian basketball players? Not if I want them to win, which I certainly do. Do we really want a National Basketball Association that looks like America?…