Saturday, November 21, 2009

Oh, Yes He Did! (Updated)

Yes, there're other things in the news; and yes, I gotta give big props to the Congressional Black Caucus as black America is officially in an economic depression; and yes, this happened almost a month ago. But there is no excuse for
to be on an 8th grade pre-algebra assignment!

The good news is that some of the kids complained. The bad news is that one child teased the only black student in the class. Personally, I don't know what's more racist: that the teacher decided to use the picture, or that the teacher claims to have seen nothing wrong with it. Trust and believe, he had other options. I had to get to page 6 to find the picture myself.

In trying to find more information on the matter, since it did happen almost a month ago, I came across one blogger who commented that the fact that the mother went to the NAACP hurts her credibility, even though it was the county office. Don't get me wrong, this particular blogger ultimately decides what the teacher did is racist, but he also disagreed with the mother of the only black student in the class keeping her child out of school. So, I think I'm gonna have to do some of my best work.

Now, if you don't find the picture offensive, then I don't know what to say about that. I can hardly stand to look at the picture myself. I'm only displaying it to grab your attention.

But here's the thing. Blacks in Bucks County, PA where this happened make up just 3.2% of the population there, 10 points less than the national average. Now, there's a general feeling of vunerability among black Americans. Being less than the national average can only make things worse. I don't blame the mother for bringing in her county's NAACP office or keeping her child out of school. And this is allegedly one of the best schools in the nations. It's not about fear of physical danger. It's about the psychic toll such an assault can have on the child. It's not an emotionally safe place to learn. As someone who's had to learn under similar circumstances, I can tell you it takes extra mental juice to overlook something like that and learn. Think of it the same way you think of sexual harrasment. Would you have your daughter in class with a teacher who plastered Pamela Anderson on a homework assignment?

Listen. We're not going to solve race by colorblindly acting like it doesn't matter any more. So stop denying that it exists. And if it shows up in an 8th grade math teacher, it's probably down at those tea party rallies, too.

That's my first point.

Here's my second. Studies have shown that allowing someone to tell a sexist joke leads to an environment where sexism is tolerated and women are discriminated against. Other forms of "disparagement humor," whether they're about racial minorities or a lower socioeconomic class, also have the "potential to be a powerful and widespread force that can legitimize prejudice in our society."

And so this teacher gave us a perfect example of how this operates. He pastes this picture on a math worksheet. He probably really didn't see the problem with this disparagement humor. (Hint to white people and men, if your "joke" puts someone down, it's offensive. Don't get me wrong, I can understand how white people would find jokes about smelling like wet dogs offensive. But, first, I feel quite safe in saying you don't know our white jokes because you haven't heard very many. After all, Bernie Mac and the man from 227 went through a list of "nicknames" for white people, but Ashton Kutcher told 4 jokes. And if your anti-black jokes work the same way our yor-mama jokes do, then I know there are hundreds of other jokes, maybe more; and, the ones Ashton told have are probably no longer in fad.) White people rarely do, even if the only way to get the "joke" is to already be familiar with the historic racist stereotype of black people and watermelons. (If you're not, I mean really not, please watch this mockumentary.) I guess that's because if you tell the same joke dozens of times around white people, it may never occur to you that others would be offended.

Wow. That's privilege.

So, there are some students who protest the picture, but the teacher hands out the worksheets still. Then, one classmate turns to the only black child and asks if that's his daddy, cause we all know most black kids don't know who their father is.

This teacher doesn't mean a class on tolerance or sensitivity. He needs a history class and an, pardon my languagne, ass-whooping.

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This isn't too complicated. If you disagree with me, I'm more than happy to have an honest discussion. I'm quite open to learning new facts and ideas. I'm dying for a conservative to explain their ideas in a sensible way.

But, I do have rules, and they also apply to those who agree with me. They just get the benefit of my already knowing the fact they'll be referring to.

So, here're the comment thread rules:

1 - Use facts.
2 - Refer to policy.
3 - Don't rely on theories and conjectures. Show me how, for example, a public health insurance option will lead to "rationing" of health care.
4 - No unfounded attacks on any entity.

If you break those rules, I will edit your comment to my own whimsical satisfaction.

Lastly, perhaps most importantly, I'm not going to entertain too much pro-white/racism-denying discussion. I want this to be a space to discuss strategies to fight racism, not space where I have to fight racism. I want anti-racists to be able to come here for a mental respite. If what you're interested in doing is attempting to demonstrate the fallacy of anti-racism by repeating the same ole comments and questions and accusations we hear all the time, please do that somewhere else.

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