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Astrophysicist and Colorado College Professor Cautions Against a Tenant of White Supremacy: Exceptionalism

Are you exceptional? If you think you are, you may need to reconsider the way you think about yourself.

This seems like a sound conclusion based on the recent comments of an astrophysicist and Colorado College (CC) professor, Natalie Gosnell.

In an entry on the school’s blog posted on January 5, the professor teaches students about racism.

Natalie is a scientist. However, she believes bigotry is for the birds. In this state of superiority, white supremacy won't fly. In fact, the professor has taken aim at the KKK's (Klu Klux Klan’s) kind of crudity. It is interesting that she herself was born into such horror.

The academic explained to Colorado College's (CC’s) newsroom:

“As an astrophysicist, I'm a product of institutions that are steeped in systemic racism and white supremacy.”

Sexism is a scourge on science, too. Colorado College lends context:

“Despite the strong ties she feels between art and science, she’s had to work for years in a society divided. [Natalie] sees this division rooted in the systemic racism and sexism that the physics institution has been born into, and it limits what physics could be and limits the people who feel welcome practicing it…. Most of Gosnell’s career has been dictated by the hyper-masculine world of astrophysics. Now, she is deciding that she doesn’t have to fit into that mold—she is changing the ways she teaches physics, and the way she professionally shares it.”

One might think that astrophysics would be free of violence, but it's not. Natalie drops the science:

“I think because science and art have been so separated, and there’s…systemic issues within science, the metaphors that are often chosen [to discuss science] are very violent and hyper-masculine…. And I totally played into [the hyper-masculine stereotypes], because, ooh, snazzy. I get to be on the Discovery Channel. Of course, like, the price was too high.”

Natalie admits that she “felt like [she] was masquerading, essentially, as what an astrophysicist was supposed to be like.”

But now she's speaking the truth. And she's challenging the elements of white supremacy. She cites three examples:

“(I’m a product of) the tenants of white supremacy that show up…of individualism and exceptionalism and perfectionism.”

This surely makes it impossible to be exceptional or an individual. But those appear to be the heights that Natalie has attained, which is why she gave the interview.

Her odds-beating level sets the bar for a ridiculously high grade if exceptional white individuals (of which Natalie is one) do, in fact, engage in white supremacy while extraordinary nonwhite people play white people's game.

Thanks to the advancement of this enlightenment, we're living in difficult times: “University Launches Graduate Program to Fight the ‘Rampant’ White Supremacy of Museums,” “Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s ‘Equity Summit’ Condemns ‘Individualism’ as White Supremacy,” “English Teacher Fights the ‘White Supremacy’ of Teaching Kids to ‘Write Properly’,” “College Prep School Hosts Seminar for Those Guilty of ‘Parenting While White’,” “Law Professor Denounces the Constitution’s ‘White Supremacy,’ Calls for an ‘Antiracist’ Replacement,” “In Order to Fight White Supremacy, an Actress Vows Not to Star in Cop Shows.” 

In the fight against the white-supremacy movement, everyone should be doing their part in their own ways. According to the article titles above, one way to combat it is to not write well, stay clear of cop shows and museums, be a slave to the system of norms, and reject all standards of excellence.

How can one be such an extraordinary person that he or she becomes an astrophysicist? There is hope for being able to achieve this goal; at least one person has.

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