So engrossed was I, that I completely ignored the charming beach houses and endless sea, opting instead to read the play-by-play in a conversation about race as it went disastrously awry.
But I get ahead of myself. The article is titled Post Mortem: A Conversation Gone Wrong. In it, the author, Tad Hargrave, picks apart a conversation thread about race that occurred on his Facebook wall in response to an image he posted. As the title suggests, the conversation was doomed from the first comment to the last.
Get on it and then come on back here. In our Paradigm A example above, if we have an individual who wants to get an extensive knowledge of the nutritional merits of fruit, he may start with the assumption that apples are the best fruit and then the remainder of his investigations will branch out from there. If our apple loving friend had to start out with the idea that there are hundreds of different types of fruit, all of them equally delightful, and, even more than that, that there are other important questions like "Where does our soul go when we die and WHAT IS A SOUL?!
This is why we do really well in the world when we have a few fundamental theories or beliefs that we start with and then branch out or not from there once we have a firm grasp on the few items that we started with. Paradigms, by their very nature , make us blind to aspects of reality that fall outside of those initial set of assumptions that make up said paradigm.
Paradigms, necessarily, exclude information, ideas and experiences that do not gel with the foundational assumptions that make up their boundaries. We have now learned that, in order for us humans to function efficiently and without going mad, we must have a set of basic foundational assumptions by which we interpret the world. These assumptions, by definition, include some aspects of reality and exclude other aspects of reality.
When two individuals from different ethnic backgrounds enter into a conversation about race, more often than not, they enter this conversation without understanding or acknowledging the possibility that they are living in two different paradigms.
Thus, for example, when these two individuals see the exact same image, they are interpreting it entirely differently based on the assumptions and beliefs they carry with them as they view the image. In his mind, they're just two individuals having a conversation about a neutral issue. This missing of cultural context is one of the most predictable patterns of white men online.
It shows people of colour that we, as white men, have no idea what time it is or where we are. His exploration itself offers a valuable example of how we can actually make strides in conversations about race. Let's step back to Kuhn for a moment. No matter how many different ways the occupants of that paradigm attempt to slice it, something isn't working. A fundamental flaw arises that challenges the basic assumptions of said paradigm. That is, the outcome that individual is seeking say, a peaceful cohabitation with people with diverse backgrounds is no longer working no matter how much he continues to try.
The problem is that the things he is trying stem from a set of assumptions that no longer apply. This means that those individuals operating within that paradigm must — gasp — ultimately come to throw out the very foundations of thinking that have shaped their entire existence up to that point. As we spoke about earlier, individuals operating in Paradigm A are operating with a completely different set of foundational assumptions than individuals in Paradigm B. As Hargrave points out, though we are using the same words, we are - in essence - speaking differently languages.
He finds a way to let "White Man 1" know that whatever has been done for generations before him can no longer be done - the thoughts, the behaviors, the assumptions that he has relied on for centuries - are irreconcilably incongruent with a working model of society where the goal is justice, equality and a level playing field.
And Hargrave does this, not as an opposing force, but as someone who understands and cares deeply about his fellows in Paradigm A, while also understanding that this paradigm is no longer viable. This is how issues around social injustice can be resolved. Tiffany McLain With guides in both paradigms gently expressing curiosity, insight and alternative ways of seeing the world, we can step away from failing paradigms and, ultimately, form a new set of working assumptions altogether which work towards the goal of having a system that benefits all of its members.