Canaries in the Cultural Mine: Suicide and Justice

November 14, 2010

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” -Krishnamurti

In my experience, few people doubt that when someone commits suicide, it means something was terribly wrong. However, too often we draw the conclusion that something was wrong with the person committing suicide. We often assume in the absence of information that the cause of the suicide was purely internal (e.g., psychological) rather than external (e.g., environmental; social or cultural). We also tend to label people who commit suicide as “selfish.” This assumption is often completely wrong.

In his essay, “Of collateral damage and roosting chickens…” Tim Wise uses the “Canary in the mine” analogy to describe how racism amongst the white working class actually does considerable damage to the welfare of white workers: Read the rest of this entry »