Thursday, November 26, 2009

WTF!!! Black kids pick cotton while white kids watch

This is just too sad. This man owes those children an apology, whether he feels his actions were justified or not. He may have been attempting to be historically correct, but does that really justify singling out 10 and 11 year old children in order to do so? And really, what did he think he was accomplishing? These were children he was dealing with! I don't have children of my own, but even I know that there are some things children are just not able to grasp on a deeper level. Hell, there are some things even adults just can't grasp!

The fact is, the message he may have inadvertently sent to those kids was that Blacks are inferior to whites; enslaved Africans were brought to the Americas to serve whites, and some of those white kids were probably wondering why things aren't still that way. Some of them might have been thinking it would be cool to have one of their Black classmates as a servant, but not because these children are inherently racist, but because most children don't really understand what chattel slavery entails.

This incident reminds me of two incidents that happened to me in high school. The first took place during a rehearsal for a play we were going to do for Black history month. It was the first meeting, and the teacher in charge was assigning us roles. I was assigned the part of Harriet Tubman. By no accident, the role of the slaves was given to all the white students. The white students were instructed to crawl on the floor towards me, and look to me desperately as if I was their savior. I remember I found this to be incredibly funny because of the irony. Still though, it made me uncomfortable and in the subsequent weeks I decided to not participate in the assembly.

The teacher involved was known for being a tad racially prejudice. A friend of mine had her as a teacher for a class and was invited by her to join a dance project she was involved with. She told my friend to invite others to join, but made it clear that anyone not Black was unwelcome.

Needless to say, when the play was presented the part with the white slaves crawling on the floor to Harriett Tubman mysteriously wasn't included. What was included was a rather long speech about how wonderful Black people were, and how essentially useless everyone else was. I think it was great that she felt the need to highlight all the achievements Black people accomplished, but I don't think anyone else needed to be put down to do so! It was no surprise that the next year at the beginning of the assembly she had to make an apology for the assembly from the previous year.

The second incident I didn't find so funny. I had a law teacher who can only be described as a jackass. Indeed many students and teachers alike would have described him as such. One day in class, he decided to bring up Philippe Rushton as an example of how freedom of speech functioned. Now, I was already aware of who Philippe Rushton was, him being a professor at the University of Western Ontario (which is in the city I grew up in), and we had already covered him in another class. The difference between the way my law teacher covered the subject and the other teacher handled it though, was that he taught Rushton's theories as if they were fact.

I graduated in 2003, which was around the time the human genome project was completed. The biological hypothesis of race being a biological construct had pretty much been disqualified, which essentially made Ruston's research invalid. To be teaching Ruston's theories (which essentially state that Blacks have the lowest IQ's of all the races based on the fact that our skulls supposedly have the smallest circumferences, also that Blacks males have larger penises and have the lowest sexual restraint) as if they were true was a very bold move.

Even if he didn't know biological race was non existent, critics of Rushton had long ignored his findings because a) his sample sizes were too small to be representative of everyone b) it was unknown who he was sampling (was everyone he was asking well educated, slightly educated, not educated at all, illiterate? How much variance in education levels existed between racial groups, etc) and c) he was funded by openly racist organizations, so although he claimed to not be racist, it was no surprise that his findings would prove what his financiers wanted him to prove.

It was a bold move I didn't like, and countered with an even bolder move of walking out of his class. Later when he attempted to discuss the incident with me, I ended up losing my temper and screaming at him for a good 20 minutes. Bold, I admit for a 17 or 18 year old kid to be doing, but he just didn't understand why he was dead wrong for doing what he did. I guess he didn't notice that some of the white kids in class were nodding in agreement while he taught Ruston's theories.

Unfortunately the incident didn't end there. On the final exam for that class there was a question about how I was planning to kill him, and how somebody had overheard me telling someone else, and was I guilty of committing a crime by making such a statement. I didn't answer the question (which was a short answer question) but instead wrote a rather long essay about how inappropriate his behaviour was. I went into that exam with an 85%. My final grade was a 63%. The exam was only worth 15% of my final grade. It doesn't take a math major to realize something wasn't quite right with my final mark.

Well obviously, being the outspoken person I am I complained and my mark was fixed and the law teacher was instructed to apologize. He never did apologize. I still would smile at him in the hall though; it sure did make him nervous as hell when I did that. I later found out he made a habit of harassing his Black students. One girl I worked with had her mark tampered with too. Unfortunately he made it a lot lower than my 63%, but she never spoke up. When I told her about my experience, she was sorry she hadn't. I'm sure though after the incident with me he thought twice about harassing other Black students. We may have been inferior in his eyes, but some of us had the audacity to stand up for ourselves.

My biggest issue with this incident is the fact that unlike my situations that happened in high school, these were elementary school children. Most of these kids are too young to know that it would have been okay to refuse to participate in such an atrocious display. The tour guide needs a reality check IMO. This is the present. Although it may have been historically accurate and okay to degrade Black people in the past, today in the present its not. The fact that he is Black makes this situation all the more shameful. It just proves that some Black people still don't realize that we are not inferior to whites.


K. Michel said...

I get where that historian was coming from, but the fact that these kids are too young to FULLY grasp it all is very dangerous. What if the White kids actually enjoyed and laughed at the Black kids? That IS what kids do. It just could've been handled better.

That incident with the theatre show is not TOO surprising to me. I'd have actually liked to see what that would look like. But, I say if a non-Black person cares about this issue and wants to come and see... let them see. But everyone is entitled to see the unbiased view of history.

Wow, your law professor is SO out of touch! Teaching it as though it were fact? I'd seriously question is reasoning on that as well, and I'm glad you said something.

What an age we live in, my dear.

BLACKkittenROAR said...

Oh no, the teacher I was talking about wasn't a University prof, he was a high school teacher. Which kind of makes it worse, cause despite the fact I thought I knew it all back then, 17 year old children are very impressionable.

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

Relating with your post again: When I was in law school a special invitee professor came to our "Law and Difference" course and told us that whites would not discriminate against Blacks because it would be counter to their economic interests. So, I stood up and asked him why, during Jim Crow, white restaurants refused to serve Blacks even when discriminating against Blacks reduced (sometimes by half) the potential market for their products?

He didn't have ANY answer to that question. History proved that his thesis was wrong, and it just required that someone (me) stand up and point it out.

In fact, research has been done in which researchers asked whites if they would want a benefit, e.g. an increase in pay, even if a Black person would also receive the benefit. Many whites said they would prefer that neither of them receive the additional benefit. (I can't remember where I saw this, but anyone interested would not have to Google for long to find it and many other such studies, I'll bet.)

I had a professor in undergrad Caribbean (sp?) Anthropology who believed that this India writer immigrant to Trinidad was an authority on Trinidad and how silly the local culture was. When he asked us to make a presentation to the class, I handed out a dozen articles that said that his favorite author on Trinidad was depressed crank who saw everything through his lens of relative privilege and disdain.

Then, I skipped all the rest of his classes until the semester ended, took the final exam and got a "B" or "B+". The teacher didn't hate me. He just believed that Caribbean people were a bunch of jerk offs, and my family comes maternally from Jamaica.

Have you ever listened to the great :( Elton John's song, "Jamaica Jerk Off"? I felt like an idiot when I realized what this song meant after actually buying some of Elton John's albums when I was a child.

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

Oh damn, can I relate with you on so many levels! First, I have a new easy-widget that takes readers from the widget to a page at the human genome project which says that "race" doesn't exist.

While I was making this point recently to a Black blogger group, a Black blogger told me that if I was going to go on insisting that biological race doesn't exist then he would prefer that I not e-mail him anymore. He said he didn't want to hear about "obsession". So, now disseminating science is an obsession. It seems to me that the people who use the word "race" 40 million times a year at Google in the USA alone are the ones who are obsessed with what essentially is an age-old propaganda hypothesis which only recently could be completely disproved by peering into the entire human genome.

Will "race" be a highly debated issue in the 2010 census when people are requested to assign themselves according to categories that have been proved scientifically meaningless? The fact that "race" doesn't exist is no less newsworthy than new absolute scientific proof of the existence or nonexistence of God would be. The fact that "race" doesn't exist is more scientifically newsworthy in America than finding a second moon orbiting the planet Earth would be. Just look up the words "race" and "moon" at Google to see which word America uses more, which is a good measure of what we think is most important.

This is one issue on which I think a lot of field negros have inadvertently found themselves working in and for the Big House.

Anyway, the more people insist on ignoring something, the more I increase my creativity about exposing it. The widget I made last night says:

"Skin Color Exists; Black and white subspecies (races) of humanity are a false and anachronistic hypothesis Learn more. (Click through to the Human Genome Project)" This is basically the same fight you had with your law school professor. Here's a link to where you can find the HTML for the widget that leads readers to the DOE Human Genome Project page that says that biological race is disproved hypothesis. That page, in turn, links to another page that says the belief in biological race has been very damaging historically.

BLACKkittenROAR said...

Francis, it would seem that many Black people are far more comfortable believing in the fallacy of biological race than in true science. A woman who's blog I frequent recently did a post asking if race really was just a social construct, because she believed it was far more, but wasn't sure. I posted a link to ur site in her comments, and she was very appreciative for the information.
She is one of the very few that I've encountered that is open to discussing the possibility that biological race isn't real. I mentioned it once on another site and was immediately labeled by the blog author as naive and an idiot for even attempting to make such a suggestion.
The problem is people don't understand that race does not need to be biological in order for it to be an issue. They see calling it a social construct (what it actually is) as dismissive, and assume that anyone who makes the claim is attempting to ignore very real problems.
Its very frustrating. People don't realize what they cling to is exactly what stands in the way of progress. I'll make sure to add the widget to my site.

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