Decolonize ALL The Things

The UNsettling reflections of a Decolonial Scientist in a Constant State of Rage

“Me-search”: When White People Justify Their Colonial White Gaze

March 7, 2014
Shay-Akil

So I have had to hear this god awful word get thrown around a lot for the past week or so.  For those who don’t know or who had the luxury of never hearing it before, “Me-search” refers to observation bias, the idea that a researcher who is part of a sub-population that they are studying can not and will not study it correctly or scientifically because they are “too close” to the “subject”.  A friend of mine who is also a blogger for the Rebel Research Collective, Will wrote a post about this a while ago (check it out here).  I was talking to him earlier today about this very issue & we both came to a hilarious conclusion about how ridiculous “me-search” & “observer bias” truly is.  Will actually asked a Japanese graduate student if she was ever discouraged from studying anything in relation to Japan and she is actually encouraged to study Japan so that “international scholars” can extract from Japanese scholarship aka creating more knowledge for the consumption of curious White people.  But Will and I both have had to deal with being told that we have no business studying our own communities because we have a biased view and are too close to the topic.  So below is a few examples of what can be said by marginalized peoples who are being accused of “me-search” in the academy.

If “Me-search” were an actual, legitimate concern:

  • Women can’t study women
  • White people can’t study White people
  • Americans can’t study Americans

So with that being the case, let’s review a short list of Western Intellectual Traditional White scholars whose work is now NO LONGER VALID because its “Me-search”:

  • Karl Marx
  • Emile Durkheim
  • Max Weber
  • Kathy Acker
  • James W. Messerschmidt
  • Every White person who studied White societies EVER (the majority of social science scholars)
  • Every Feminist with a vagina EVER

You see that?  Me-search when actually equitably applied undos all basic social science knowledge and literature.  Can you now see how White supremacist racist and cisheteropatriarchal the concept of “me-search” is?  “Me-search” & “Observer Bias” are concepts used to maintain the status quo & ensure that White academics always get a first row seat to perpetuating the White colonial gaze & curiosity.  Every time a White academic (whether faculty or graduate student) tells a PoC academic that their work is “me-search” or their work is “anecdotes NOT data” it is RACIST.  “Me-search” & “Observer Bias” pit the scholarship of White people at the top of the logical, empirical, valid, regimes of truth.  So feel free to use this blog post to arm yourself as a person of color against the claims of “me-search” from White academia.  Because when you get down to the point, they’re just being White supremacist racist douche bags.  And quite frankly, “me-search” and “observer bias” is just some bullshit that White people made up.

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