Should White People Pick Cotton For A Day?

Posted 7/03/2008 by smartblackboy in Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

First, I want to say that Ross White is an amazing human being, a talented progressive thinker with unlimited potential, a very close and dear friend, and most of all - a good sport.

Second, I want to say that I don't personally believe in the practical application of reparations because I am a pragmatist and fully realize the impossibility and problematic nature of the United States Government applying any reparations policy.

However, Art Star is a space that has been created for the exchange of ideas, information, and to build a community of young artists, thinkers, and influential people.

Yesterday I wrote a column that was meant to be pure entertainment called My Top Ten Guilty Pleasures, and #10 was reparations. I knew that it was a spicy topic and would possibly offend some of our readership as I acknowledged.

However the value of making controversial statements is not from the pure "shock" value, but from the ensuing dialogue about the issue.

In the comments section of my column, Ross and I had a debate which turned on whether or not a white person would learn anything about slavery from picking cotton for a day?

I said yes they would, and he said no they would not.

So, I challenged him to a bet that we would let our readership (and whoever else cares) decide via this really neat new idea called prediction markets.

Using the Inkling Marketplace we will pose the question and you, the reader, decide how right or wrong each of us are (we both believe that we insult everyone's intelligence by making it a yes or no answer).

If "the world" decides that yes, a white person would indeed would learn something from picking a day's worth of cotton, then Ross White will pick cotton for a day, and post footage from that and reflection on his experience in a youtube video.

If "the world" decides that no, a white person would not learn much from picking a day's worth of cotton, then I will issue a public apology to any white people I have offended in a youtube video.

Now of course I don't want to apologize and Ross doesn't want to pick cotton but that is what makes it interesting.

Over the next week or so we will both make posts elaborating, and nuancing our positions.

However, tomorrow we will introduce how YOU will decide and let the betting begin.

We encourage for you to comment on our bet and the issues, because although we both realize the inherent silliness in making a white person pick cotton, both Ross and I strongly believe that our countries ongoing conversation about race, history, discrimination, equality, and fairness are very important and isn't a "black" issue, or a "white" issue, but an American issue.

1 comment(s) to... “Should White People Pick Cotton For A Day?”


Will Bryan said...

Like the stuff going on here with all of this...but there's still a big problem with your practical setup. It's not just that "picking cotton" is silly, it's that it's not even close to the hub of the discussion of race, then or now. Picking cotton was not what made a black person into a slave in the antebellum south. Being treated like something less than human because of your skin color was...and the heritage of that is what we deal with now, not whether black people have some inherent understanding of what it's like to pick cotton and white people don't. I've picked more cotton in my life than all of the black people that I know. Pick something more to the point of things...make a white person go to a predominantly black school and see how it feels to be noticed and singled out (something that still wouldn't compare to the hatred that went the other way) solely because of your skin color. Or if we want to be even more practical, how about we send Ross to the AME church in downtown Charleston.

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