It’s been hard to focus on work the last few days, given everything that’s been happening in the news. But there’s one thing I keep coming back to in my mind that’s been giving me some hope. (Thread, 1/9)
Last fall, I taught a class on the psychology of language where we spent a day on non-literal meanings — how you figure out what someone is implying when they don’t say something directly. (2/9)
One unspoken rule is that people should be as informative as possible in conversation. Like if someone says, “Do you like your classes?” and you say, “There’s one I like,” that implies that there are some you don’t like. Otherwise you’d have said you like them all. (3/9)
This led to a discussion of how when people hear the phrase #BlackLivesMatter ,” they respond “no, all lives matter.” Otherwise, wouldn’t you have said so? (4/9)
But then we talked about another unspoken rule that’s equally important — that a good conversation partner only talks about what’s relevant, that you don’t say things that people already know. (5/9)
We don’t need to say “all lives matter” because nobody in the country has questioned the worth of white lives. We don’t need to say “all lives matter” because it’s not relevant or informative. (6/9)
The fact that #blacklivesmatter is relevant to conversation because it is something our society doesn’t seem to know. And that’s why we need to say it, without caveats or conditions. (7/9)
When it’s hard to remember why my work is important, I try to remember that it gave me a platform to talk to a roomful of students about why saying #blacklivesmatter is the right thing to say. That’s a huge privilege. (8/9)
I think it’s important remember that as scientists, we have a responsibility to think about issues that matter to society and a duty to find ways we can connect our work to those issues. And that’s what keeps me going. (9/9)
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