Is This “For Real”?

Oh come on:

That murder was racist and it did expose institutional racism and discrimination, so why the quotation marks? Both racism and institutional discrimination are real things in the world. And neither things were in doubt in this case. So, again, why?

Let me make a hypothesis here: we insert quotation marks around factual statements when they somehow reveal that minority / marginal points of view turned out to be objectively correct after all.

One of the marks of privilege is to have one’s privileged point of view readily accepted as factual and objective and not marked by bias whereas the points of view of disadvantaged categories tend to be dismissed as overreactions, exaggeration and overall lack of objective perspectives. Therefore, we put quotation marks as a marker of point of view rather than factual statement.


2 thoughts on “Is This “For Real”?

  1. Or perhaps it’s a relatively unfamiliar concept to the author or editor, and the quotes indicate the unfamiliarity or jargon-y nature of the concept? Not everyone has a degree in sociology.

    • “racist” is not some obscure sociological concept. And even if the editor / writer is unfamiliar with institutional discrimination, quotation marks are not the proper marker of unfamiliarity.

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