Neutral, foundational, general audience, non-biased, and objectivity ALL tend to mean White.
I attended Vanderbilt Divinity School, a pretty progressive and safe place for people who generally feel unsafe in seminary and/or church-type settings. Yet I found myself inundated with “foundation” texts. This meant that I was constantly reading ODWG aka Old Dead White Guys. If I wanted to read something else, I had to step away from the core classes, like Theological Ethics and Theological Formation, toward Black Theologies, Womanist Ethics, or Latinx Theologies. These non-required classes were not considered “foundational” yet these were the people speaking to my context, or resembling anything that I recognized. Core foundational courses were jammed down our throats like there was no way that we could ever imagine theology without the ODWG.
I danced for a long time. It was even my major at one point in undergrad. The foundational and required classes for a dance major were ballet and modern dance. We had to master these classes in order to graduate. We had to take them extensively. We were required to take ballet 1, 2, and 3 as well as modern dance 1, 2, and 3. If we took any other course, like African Diaspora, these were supplemental classes. These classes could be a focus or something we could specialize in, but, not without the other foundational classes which were started by the elites, the while elites.
When you read a lot of texts regarding Latinx history in the USA written by Latinxs, the commentary surrounding a lot of these texts will be: it has a bias because it is written by a person who is too close to these narratives. Undoubtedly. I have heard this way too many times, said by professors and even other students, who bring into question the validity of whatever is being said based on the author's context. YET we fail to acknowledge the bias of the “foundational” texts written by ODWG. NOBODY is asking about their contexts when we have discussions in class about it. We take them at face value and we trust them and whatever they say as unbiased. But, objectivity does not exist and subjectivity knows no skin tone.
Huffington Post, NBC News, ABC, CNN, and the likes are all catering to a general USA audience, but if they are so general why have they created Black and Latinx sectors/outlets? We are seeing the problem and acknowledging that white privilege means always thinking that you’re the general audience, but not saying it by creating other outlets within these large networks to cater to their different audiences. If we need to call Latino NBC a thing, then we should just call regular NBC: White NBC. We know that is what you mean and we also know that it is a real thing.
Or let us all start acknowledging that neutral, foundational, general audience, non-biased, and objectivity means WHITE, and then we can begin to have real conversations around how context like race, class, ethnicity, etc. need to be in everyday conversations and that white people are not immune to biases and subjectivity, and their foundational material is actually not meant for us all. Foundational, objective, and neutral for whom? is the bigger question and the question we should keep asking in our classrooms, conference calls, and board meetings.
Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez is a chonga Mujerista from Managua, Nicaragua currently living in Miami, FL. She recently graduated with her Masters from Vanderbilt University, and is looking to take some much needed time off to refresh. She is also the founder of Latina Rebels, a blogger for HuffPo Latino Voices, and a columnist/editor at Chica Magazine. Her interests are within biopolitics as it relates to Latina embodiment, specifically concerning models of conquerable flesh around narratives of naturalization for women of color. Thus her work is around reclaiming and upholding embodied resistance, particularly within chonga and chola subcultures. Que viva la mujer!