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Woke Tales: National Geographic Permanently Canceled Geography Bee Over 'Equity' Concerns

Jacquelyn Martin

Had you heard about this?  I had not, until writer Zaid Jilani highlighted it.  It seems as though National Geographic's annual geography bee had been canceled in 2020 due to COVID -- and then permanently discontinued after "many conversations" about 'equity,' amid the identity-driven madness that consumed much of the country's elite institutions during that time frame.  

Jilani clearly suggests that the 'equity' concern was about the (apparently) problematic nature of the winners' ethnic composition:

Here's how National Geographic announced the cessation of the bee in 2021:

The National Geographic Society is deeply proud of the 33-year legacy of the GeoBee and the millions of students, educators, parents, schools, and others who have participated in this iconic competition. In 2020, recognizing the difficult circumstances school communities found themselves in to safely educate students during the COVID-19 pandemic, we made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020-2021 GeoBee and instead focus on reimagining what a global geography experience for young people could look like entirely. After many conversations and reflections with students, educators, and community members, we’ve made the decision to permanently discontinue the National Geographic GeoBee to make way for new, transformative, and innovative geography education opportunities in which students around the globe can more equitably participate.

In the 'FAQ' section of the announcement page, we get further confirmation that this decision was fueled by (or at least publicly justified by) woke identity politics:

Why did the National Geographic Society choose to permanently discontinue the GeoBee?

While we are proud of the National Geographic GeoBee’s 33-year legacy, we believe that this moment presents an opportunity to reimagine geography education and empower young people around the world as solution-seekers to confront our century’s most pressing challenges. In addition to the drop in GeoBee registration in 2020, important shifts—from the COVID-19 pandemic to an increased focus on racial injustice—challenge us to find new, transformative, meaningful ways to engage young people globally in geography.

They claimed that they were "deeply proud" of the bee's decades-long history and legacy, but they had to permanently end it to help enable "an increased focus on racial injustice."  They dutifully used the buzz word "reimagine," which has also been a favorite of the 'defund the police' crowd, which expresses vague desires to "reimagine" policing and criminal justice.  And the National Geographic statement claimed a desire to "make way for" new forms of geography educational experiences in which students "can more equitably participate."  It's not at all a stretch for Jilani to translate this into "too many kids with the wrong sorts of skin colors were winning this competition, so we're getting rid of it."  Can you feel the progress?  These are adults effectively telling children, "sorry kids, we've gotta 'equity' away this thing that you’re good at and work hard on!  Your racial and ethnic backgrounds are kind of a problem.  Something-something-representation.  Thanks for the memories, though."  

Relatedly, do Asians 'count' as 'people of color'?  It's a complicated and uncomfortable question for the wokest in our society, with a few wild examples that come to mind.  Are these expressions of frustration and concern legitimate?  Or are they white supremacy adjacent, or whatever?  Watch to the end of the report for a short summary of this recent episode:

On the wokeness meter this week, however, I'm not sure anything can compete with this essay about "digital blackface:"

Perhaps you posted that meme of supermodel Tyra Banks exploding in anger on “America’s Next Top Model” (“I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!”). Or maybe you’ve simply posted popular GIFs, such as the one of NBA great Michael Jordan crying, or of drag queen RuPaul declaring, “Guuuurl…” If you’re Black and you’ve shared such images online, you get a pass. But if you’re White, you may have inadvertently perpetuated one of the most insidious forms of contemporary racism...Digital blackface is a practice where White people co-opt online expressions of Black imagery, slang, catchphrases or culture to convey comic relief or express emotions. These expressions, what one commentator calls racialized reactions, are mainstays in Twitter feeds, TikTok videos and Instagram reels, and are among the most popular Internet memes. Digital blackface involves White people play-acting at being Black, says Lauren Michele Jackson, an author and cultural critic, in an essay for Teen Vogue...Many White people choose images of Black people when it comes to expressing exaggerated emotions on social media – a burden that Black people didn’t ask for, she says. “We are your sass, your nonchalance, your fury, your delight, your annoyance, your happy dance, your diva, your shade, your ‘yaas’ moments,” Jackson writes. “The weight of reaction GIFing, period, rests on our shoulders.”

In trying to define digital blackface, it depends on who you talk to. The standard for some is comparable to what one Supreme Court Justice once said when asked his test for pornography: “I know it when I see it.” This guidance might help: If a White person shares an image online that perpetuates stereotypes of Black people as loud, dumb, hyperviolent or hypersexual, they’ve entered digital blackface territory. And yet even with that definition, it’s hard to figure out exactly what is and isn’t digital blackface. This is the challenge that Elizabeth Halford faces. Halford, a brand designer, wrote an apologetic essay in 2020 about how she made a meme out of Wilkins’ “Ain’t nobody got time for that” catchphrase and sent someone a GIF of the singer Beyonce repeating, “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.” “I’ve engaged in digital blackface,” Halford wrote.  Halford says if she refrains from using any Black memes, she runs into another problem: “Those are the most effective, because White people are so boring,” she says.

We live in the dumbest timeline, and it's only getting dumber.  I'll leave you with a clear voice, desperately trying to penetrate and defeat the toxicity of identitarianism/CRT/wokeness:


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