Our Own Kobayashi Maru

Racists exist in every culture, and when they speak, they make it so others can never be right.  They make it so others are bound to look bad no matter what decision is made, and they make it so a no-win situation exists where the end result is used to prove (for lack of a better word) the racist persons claims.

In other words, racists are able to create a Kobayashi Maru scenario.  For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it’s from the Star Trek franchise created by Gene Roddenberry in which cadets at Star Fleet Academy were put through a training exercise where every decision led to destruction of the ship cadet’s command.  Every decision in the stranded ship simulation — no matter how well thought, no matter how sensitive to the situation, no matter how logical — was programmed from the start to fail and result in the destruction of the ship.

In other words, the simulation is rigged, and that makes the choices anything but choices.  If the cadet chooses to do what is morally acceptable, the cadet will lose.  If the cadet chooses to do what is socially acceptable, the cadet will lose.  Either way, it’s a set up.

And damage control isn’t an option as much as it’s a secondary line of defense after damage has already taken its toll.

So what do most people do when faced with a no-win situation?  They usually shut down for a number of reasons fueled by frustration and a sense of powerlessness.  They feel there are no options to choose from that will yield positive resolutions and solutions.

Recently, Spike Lee has been the latest celebrity to create a no-win situation for a specific group of people.  It’s not the first time Spike Lee has shown his negativity towards white people.

If a white person gets involved, that person is misappropriating culture according to Spike Lee. If a white person doesn’t get involved, that person is looking down on the culture according to Spike Lee these days.  During the Zimmerman case, the Washington Times reported that he tweeted out an incorrect address for George Zimmerman thereby endangering the lives of an elderly couple in the 70s who had lived at the address for over a decade.

But things haven’t really changed all that much in the past twenty or so years that Spike Lee has been in the public eye.

It was in an Esquire magazine that readers read Barbara Grizzuti Harrison’s interview with Spike Lee where misperception of certain situations cropped up.  A cabbie who didn’t want to take Spike Lee and his interviewer to Brooklyn becomes discrimination against a black man even though the interviewer explains that most cabbies in New York don’t want to leave the financially rewarding confines of taxi fares in Manhattan.

In this interview he states that race is more important than class and that’s an interesting comment when you consider that even back then, the interviewer referred to him as a member of the “black aristocracy.”  Even more telling is his comments about his father’s second wife who he refers to as “white” and “Jewish” and blaming her for breaking up his family (his father was a widower when he re-married).  Mention is made that she wears dreadlocks and sings in his father’s group, Noah’s Ark.

There’s a history behind why Spike Lee feels the way he does about white people, and why in 1992, he stated that he gives interracial couples a [disapproving] look. Everyone’s experience is a valid experience in that it moulds the person that person chooses to become.  However, that experience is no reason for creating a no-win situation for others.

Wouldn’t it be better to create opportunities where healing can begin?  Wouldn’t it be better to stop choosing to segregate groups of people through words and actions?  Wouldn’t it be better to find common ground to build upon rather than lob verbal grenades and plant figurative land mines in societal landscapes?

If you were to ask Spike Lee, he’d deny any of that was possible.  If you asked him if he felt he was racist, he’d insist that “black people can’t be racist” as he did in an interview with Playboy.  He’ll tell you a lot of things about how awful things are and how other African-Americans with clout are selling out to the other side (since he seems to see society as a collection of warring factions).

Is it any wonder that segments of society feel they’ve been thrown into the Kobayashi Maru simulation and no matter what they try to do, they’re going to lose despite their most ardent efforts to do the right thing?  And in some cases, don’t be surprised that if someone knows they’re going to be made out to be in the wrong at every turn, they don’t have any incentive to change what needs to be changed.  They’ll believe they might just as well keep on doing what they’re already doing since changing won’t make a difference with how they’re regarded or treated.

Elyse Bruce

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2 Responses to “Our Own Kobayashi Maru”

  1. Suzie Cole Says:

    Racists are all around us, the “white racists” get more publicity through the media, other racists are more secretive and not wanting the spotlight …

  2. cairennhouse Says:

    Great blog! I’m in a Kobayashi Maru simulation situation with my eldest daughter right now, so it had double meaning for me. Meaningful dialog leading to a solution to a problem requires honest input from both, or all, parties. Winning through rigging the situation is pointless when nothing is solved. You got the ‘feelings’ right … that’s how I’m feeling. About to disengage, methinks. What’s the point?


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