Jeremy Pierce: November 2011 Archives

People With Blackness

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I've discovered the need to adopt a new way of speaking about people who are recently-descended from Africans. We've learned in the last couple decades that we ought to emphasize someone's personhood above any other characteristic, and thus it's thoroughly immoral to use any adjective in front of 'person'. We need to use predicate nouns instead. We no longer have sad people, for example. We simply have people with sadness. We no longer have short people. We have people with shortness. We don't want to define people with sadness as if their sadness is more important than their personhood, so we have a moral obligation to put the noun form after the word 'person'. Grammar does always indicate metaphysics, after all.

One sphere of language in which this lesson has never been properly applied is in the area of race. Why are we still talking about black people, for instance? Do we really want to define people solely in terms of their race? Do we really want to signal that their blackness is so central to who they are that we're going to pretend that people with blackness aren't people? If we call them black people, then we are treating their blackness as if it's a greater part of our conception of people with blackness than their personhood is. People with person-firstness have instructed us that we should never put disability-related adjectives in front of a noun or pronoun referring to a person, because we don't want them identified with that condition. But we've also learned from the same people that having a disability is not negative, which means this policy is not because disabilities are bad. Therefore, we ought to apply it to other cases when something is not bad but might wrongly be taken by someone to be bad, just as we would apply it to things that are genuinely bad. If race is not to be a negative, then I am not a white person. I'm a person with whiteness. It does make it a little awkward to speak of people with Asianness or people with Australian-first-people-ness (i.e. what used to be called aboriginalness). But it's worth the awkwardness of expression to avoid any chance of identifying them with the racial or ethnic group whose membership they possess.

Even worse, it's especially pernicious to say that someone is black (or African-American or whatever racial term we might choose). After all, using predicate adjectives amounts to making identity statements rather than merely ascribing a property to someone the way we would have thought that adjectives in English, even predicate adjectives, do. It's much more preferable to say that someone has blackness than to say that she is black. People aren't anything except persons. I'm not philosophical. I have philosophicalness. Glenn Beck is not unfair to his political adversaries. He has unfairness to the people who have political adversariness with him. President Obama is not bad at speaking without a teleprompter. He has badness at speaking without a teleprompter. I shouldn't say that I am Christian. I'm a person who has Christianity. I shouldn't be identified with my faith. I should claim, rather, to possess the entirety of Christianity, as if it belongs to me. We need to avoid identifying people with any property ascribed to them other than personhood. It's much better to say that they possess the entirety of the thing that formerly we would have used to describe them.

For more explanation, please see here (except you can ignore the sections explaining how people with blindness and people with deafness have offendedness at the obviously-correct way to refer to them, and you certainly shouldn't read person-with-autism Jim Sinclair's reasons for disliking person-first language).

This continues the Trinity Fellowship chronological sermon archive, from the 1978-2000 listing.

This is the chronological archive for sermons from Trinity Fellowship in Syracuse, New York. Most of the current sermons are preached by the elders of the congregation: Jeremy Jackson, Stefan Matzal, Doug Weeks, and Nathaniel Jackson (with Al Gurley preaching a lot of the earlier ones, as one of the three founding elders). Audio for other sermons by current members, former members, and guest preachers is included only if I have permission from the preacher.

With some exceptions, Trinity Fellowship preaches from the gospels in the winter, historical books in the spring, epistles in the summer, and prophets in the fall. In earlier years, the schedule was slightly different, and topical series sometimes occur in place of one of the others (but only once in place of a gospel) during a break between books.

This archive is ordered chronologically. To see them ordered by section of the Bible, see here. I've left out retreat talks and other recorded messages unless they were given on a Sunday or they were given in a series that included a Sunday morning sermon. Some of those left out can be found among the topical sermons at the link earlier in this paragraph.

Because of a post-length limit that I never knew this blog had, I had to split the archive into two pieces. I could have split it anywhere from 1999-2002 or so, and given that range it seemed best to split it at the century marker, so this post covers the 20th century, and the next post covers the 21st.

I pay good money for a service contract for our Dell computers, which in my case is provided by Unisys. They used to be pretty good at giving you the next-day service that you pay for, but it seems to be getting very hard to get next-day service recently. Obviously they can't give you next-day service if you call on a Friday night or the day before a holiday, because the technicians aren't working on weekends and holidays. But I'm talking about calling up early in the day in the middle of the week, getting scheduled for the next day, and then getting assigned to a technician who refuses to rearrange her schedule to fit mine, when there's really only about an hour in my day when I can't do it.

I have a 10:00 appointment today. It's going to take me five minutes to get there. It should be about 45 minutes long. It will take about five minutes to get home. Even if it goes long, I should be home well before 11:30. So I was hoping Dell would put me in the 1:30-5:30 slot for service today, and I was expecting to be able to change that when they called to ask me what time would work for me. What's the point of asking me if a time will work if they're unwilling to change it? The service desk person had me talk to the technician, who said it won't fit her schedule, and I'd have to talk to the service desk people again. I did, and they said only the technicians can change it. There's no way even to move me to the later slot. I have to wait until tomorrow, and tomorrow I have the same problem. I need it to be later in the day tomorrow too. At least they let me schedule that.

This could easily have been avoided if they'd asked me when I could be available for the technician to come before they assigned me to a technician and a time slot. I never used to have a problem with this. If the technician scheduled me for a time I couldn't keep, I'd be moved earlier or later in the day, as long as I talked to them when they initially called me to verify the time. If that technician couldn't accommodate me, they could assign it to a different technician as long as they knew before the technician had gone out with the parts. Now they seem to assign a time and a technician, verify it with the customer as a formality, and then move you to the next day in violation of the contract if you can't conform to the schedule they didn't bother to confirm with you before they assigned you. This does not count as next-day service. If it happened one call in ten, I wouldn't be very upset about it, but this seems to happen to me just about every single time. It happened last week, and it had to be delayed two days. I think something like that also happened a little over a month ago.

After three calls to the scheduling desk personnel and two to the technician, I finally got someone to tell me that I can call the number they had me call and influence my schedule before the parts get shipped (i.e. the day before but only once my dispatch has taken place to be in their system). They don't normally even give you that number until you get your first call from Unisys (in the morning), when your time is assigned already. So maybe I now have a way to ensure that my next-day service really is next-day, but the information required to ensure such a thing is hardly available to most people calling in service requests, and I wouldn't have thought such a thing was necessary.

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