Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Bilingual Education, Part V--Not Politically Correct

From 1/9/03:


The head of the Bilingual/Multicultural Education
Department at Sacramento State wants to meet with me
because of a situation that happened in a class back
in November. Below I've attached the email I just
sent him.

To summarize, I had had enough of the anti-white and
anti-white-male discussion in class and made the
comment, "There's no group of white people sitting
around a table somewhere saying, 'What can we do to
keep darkie down now?'" Yes, I chose an unpopular
word, but did so to demonstrate how vile what our
class discussion was suggesting truly is.

How naive. I thought divergent views were "tolerated"
in our universities.
**********************************************************
Mr.C :

I am not really inclined to meet with you to discuss
an incident that happened approximately 2 months ago,
an incident that has caused me no undue amount of
stress. Part of my reason for feeling persecuted is
your not-very-subtle threat in your previous email to
me, to wit:

By way of introduction I am the Chair of the Department
(Bilingual/Multicultural Education) that funds your CLAD preparation.

Additionally, your statement that my feelings of
persecution are "premature" do not give me reason to
think I will be treated at all fairly.

Here is my recollection of the events on the evening
in question.

In a course titled Bilingualism In The Classroom we
were discussing the "culture of power", the ways
mainstream *white* people keep minorities in their
place. (Incidentally, I don't see the relationship
between the title of the course and the subject being
discussed.) Since I don't subscribe to this
particular social theory, and being naive enough to
think that we could have an adult conversation with
contrary views, I said, "There's no group of white
people sitting around a table somewhere saying, 'What
can we do to keep darkie down now?'"

An African-American woman in the class took offense to
my use of the word "darkie", which when taken in
context was obviously not meant as an attack by me on
any person or group of persons. This student and I
began debating, and during this debate she verbally
attacked me while I did not respond in kind.
Professor B said nothing about this
personal attack. After no more than a minute or so of
heated, but not out-of-control discussion, Professor B
intervened and brought the discussion
to a halt with little effort. She then made comments
to me that commented on my inability to teach
(something about which she has no knowledge) and also
suggested that I was/am closed-minded. She then
suggested that due to the nature of the debate, we
take our usual 5-minute break at that time to cool off
and reflect on the discussion.

In my mind, Professon B handled the
situation--poorly, but handled it. A discussion got
uncomfortable and, in her opinion, out of hand,and she
ended it. Why she felt it necessary to come to you
with this situation, and why you feel it necessary to
revisit this situation 2 months later, escapes me.

Professor B and I seem to have divergent
views in most areas. However, until that evening I
never sensed any personality conflict between us. I
do now. I suspect that is her rationale for coming to
you in the first place.

But back to my comments and their place in class. I
would hope that even unpopular views can be
"tolerated" in class. Notice that my comment which
started this controversy seems reasonable when taken
in context, and even the use of the word "darkie" can
be understood. The statement was bold, designed to
show my opinions on the subject being discussed, and
worthy of response and comment--but not of the type I
got from the student in the class, Professor B, or you.

I do not know what else I could add to this account by
meeting in person. If you feel differently, please
contact me again and perhaps we could in fact meet on
Monday the 13th.

{signed: me}



Mr. C wrote:
Mr.M , I have made the intention of my request
for a meeting with you
clear in previous e-mail communications. You are
welcome to prepare in which
ever manner you feel appropriate. Moreover, your
feelings of "persecution"
are unwarranted and premature given we are yet to
meet.
I'd like to propose Monday, January 13th at 5pm for
our meeting. My office
is in Eureka Hall 435B. I've invited to
attend as well.
Let me know if this works for you.

11 comments:

Polski3 said...

You are learning. Yes, the Berlin Wall may have fallen, the Soviet Union may have fractured into bits and pieces, BUT, socialism is still alive and well in Cuba, North Korea, PR China and in the halls of American Universities.

As for your comment, some people cannot handle the truth. They do not want to hear any opposing viewpoint, they expect you to take what they say as being the 'gospel' truth and the only approved dogma. My grandfather never attended Special EEL classes; he was expected to learn English in school. Even back in 1905, Chicago City Schools NEVER taught their students in Polish. (or Gaelic, Lithuanian, Russian, Slovak, Mygar, Greek, Czech, Finnish, Swedish or German....all home languages of his schoolmates). Yep, Immersion works best.

Polski3 said...

Oh, you might ask WHY teacher education programs for teachers to learn Spanish are taught using the Immersion methods ?

Darren said...

Yes, I love that inconsistency. Even the darling of the bilingual movement, Stephen Krashen, recommends immersion in a foreign language for teachers so they can speak to their students. Hypocrisy is such a wonderful thing.

Remember from an earlier post how my friend was taught Czech at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey. Hint: it wasn't "dual immersion" or "transitional Czech" or "group learning" or any of the other fads....

Coach Brown said...

(shudder)

Darren, you're giving my teaching credential program flashbacks.

Dammit, knock it off!

:)

Anonymous said...

Darren,

That big mouth of yours got you in trouble again?

Tisk, Tisk.

"There's no group of white
people sitting around a table somewhere saying, 'What
can we do to keep darkie down now?'" Actually, there is, it's called the Republican Party.

You are your own worst enemy. Can we agree on that much?

Your students simply do not have to tolerate being called "darkie," and they know it.

Mabye you should get a job working for Haliburton, since you have no future in education.

Since I do feel a slight pang of sympathy (or maybe indigestion), I'll tell you my little secret. I once worked in an office that was over 50% black females. They all loved me because I had a large black history month poster in my office year round (with Martin Luther King and Jessie Jackson). If you hang one up in your classroom it might go a long way in making minorities feel more welcome.

Darren said...

Anonymous: You refuse to acknowledge the dictum "It's better to be silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt." Instead of responding to your points, I'll leave them here to speak for themselves--and for you.

Darren said...

Anonymous: I just read your comment again. I didn't call any of my students "darkie". I used the word in a college class in which I was a student.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous: I just read your comment again. I didn't call any of my students "darkie". I used the word in a college class in which I was a student."

Oh, so that makes it ok then to call people "Darkie"?

"Anonymous: You refuse to acknowledge the dictum "It's better to be silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt." Instead of responding to your points, I'll leave them here to speak for themselves--and for you."

I am a fool, but I'm not in trouble for making racist comments.

Who's the real fool and who is to blame?

henny said...

Anonymous:

Using that offensive term in a classroom setting is certainly controversial. I wouldn't have done it certainly! But the use of the term was clearly evocative and not racist- surely Darren was trying to play with the premise of the "racist white guy" and thus used a derrogatory term, in jest, to exaggerate the absurdity of it. If I were the teacher I would have asked Darren to refrain from using such offensive terminology (even to make a point) because it does not fit in within a professional environment. But it's strange to me that this has become as big as it is. Worse yet, aggressive racist language is often acceptable towards whites, which certainly is a double standard.

Phyllis S said...

The use of 'Darkie' in this context is provocative, however, I'm thinking had it been said here in the 'Deep South' no one would have batted an eye.
I too, would have taken the missive requesting a meeting as a veiled threat-I'm the person that pays for your CLAD course--uh, only a bit subtle.
As for Anonymous--the fact that his reading comprehension skills are limited at best and that he feels the need to post 'Anonymously', tells us a great deal more about him than it does about darren.

Darren said...

You know, Phyllis, I was going to ask if you're single :-) Then I checked your profile and saw that you're happily married. *sigh*