Friday, June 02, 2006

Update on Seattle Schools Racism

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about institutional racism in the Seattle Public Schools. This was institutional racism in the truest sense of the words--policies about, and definitions of, racism, promulgated by the district management itself. And what great, "progressive" policies and definitions they were!

I've read on a few different sites today that they've been shamed by the public into making a few modifications. Rest assured that the intent to instill white guilt will definitely remain; the changes made will be purely cosmetic, designed only to obscure the very racism they claim to want to root out!

Remember the old yarn, "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive"? This is exactly what would get libs in trouble, if only enough people were listening. They want us to think they're changing the policies and definitions, but listen to the underlying bias that will frame anything new they create:

That message, written by Caprice Hollins, the district's director of equity and race relations, said the site wasn't intended to "develop an 'us against them' mind-set."

But she may have stepped into a second controversy by saying the site also wasn't intended "to hold onto unsuccessful concepts such as melting pot or colorblind mentality."

Nope, wouldn't want one of those colorblind mentalities. Wouldn't want people treated as individuals, without regard to their skin color. Wouldn't want to live up to Dr. King's dream that his children be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Wouldn't want to live up to the words of Thurgood Marshall, or of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that I quoted in this post. No sirree, can't have any of that. Can't have any melting pot, either; balkanization worked great in the Balkans and it's working just fine here in the good ole U. S. of A.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, how many additional teachers do you think the district could hire if they didn't have a Director of Equity and Race Relations? Do you think I, a white Republican male, could ever get a job as a Director of Equity and Race Relations?

I don't believe in victim mentalities. Gandhi didn't play victim. Dr. King didn't play victim. Rosa Parks didn't play victim. And I look up to all of them. I also admire Jaime Escalante--who refused to let his students hide behind their Hispanic surnames and fail, who refused to accept that barrio kids couldn't learn, and who refused to roll over when his barrio students were accused of cheating on the AP Calculus test because their scores were so high.

Nope, I definitely could not get a job as a Director of Equity and Race Relations. It's sad that such a job endures. And the people of Seattle should not rest on their laurels just because they had a few words removed from a web site. Ms. Hollins should be out of a job--not because she screwed up, big time, and twice, but because her job shouldn't even exist in the first place.


rightwingprof said...

You hit the ten ring in that final clause.

Garimundi said...

True, it's sad such a job exists. But it exists because racism exists in public schools, including in Seattle. I see it and hear it every week- I work there. As a HS teacher, you may disagree and say it doesn't exist in your school. We can disagree, fair enough. As an educator, I am surprised you misrepresent Ms. Holling's references to "melting pot" and "colorblindness". Wouldn't it be intellectually more honest to say "I'm not sure what she means, but I reject her ideas if they mean *this*"? I respectfully suggest you ask someone at your school what those phrases mean in
an educational context. Criticizing something someone else *didn't* say isn't very useful.

As for your twin claims that you don't believe in victim mentalities, but would never be hired for her job, nice juxtaposition. : )

Darren said...

I didn't misrepresent her statement, and neither do we need to parse it along the lines of determining what "is" is. Her meaning was quite clear.

By virtue of her job title, that woman has a vested interest in never seeing illegal forms of racism ended. Again, I didn't misrepresent her statement at all.

As far as racism goes, it's kind of like communists in the 50's--if you want to, you can find one under every bed. Doesn't mean they were there, though.

Garimundi said...

If what she meant by "colorblindness" is clear, could you share a quick explanation with those of us who don't believe they always interpret others' words perfectly?

I'm not pulling a Clinton ;) by parsing "is". Heck, everybody knows people use words differently- my definition of "equal opportunity" may be very different than yours. Maybe I've got her wrong too. I'm just asking what *you* believe she means so we can discuss the same thing.

Darren said...

Colorblindness: seeing people as individuals rather than as members of a racial or ethnic group. For those who think colorblindness is a bad thing (apparently Thurgood Marshall and Dr. King were wrong, to these people), *not* taking a child's skin color into account in education is akin to "ignoring the real child", or worse, subjecting them to "white" hegemony and imperialism. Colorblindness doesn't allow for affirmative action.

Clear enough now?

Darren said...

As for the juxtaposition you mentioned above, merely mentioning that I would never be considered for such a job is not the same as whining about it, thereby turning myself into a victim.

My hunch is you knew that, which makes me wonder why you made the (pointless) point that you did.

Pointless point? Now *that's* juxtaposition! Sometimes I slay myself.

Garimundi said...

I'm posting edited comments from Ms. Hollins, in response to the question "what did you mean by 'colorblind mentality'"?
"A colorblind mentality means seeing all people as being the same. It's making statement like, I don't notice the color of your skin. We make statements that say we are all the same, but in reality it is not the experience of most people of color with regards to how others
treat them. In fact just the opposite. Simply stating that one doesn't notice another persons skin color does not make it so. In other words, it doesn't make people truly feel this way about you. It often only makes the person of color feel crazy. You say I'm like you, but you
treat me ___ way.
Things that are culturally a norm for one group may not be for another group and therefore you may see a behavior as abnormal. The same holds true for anyone, I want you to notice the color of my skin so that you can take into consideration all of me, not just a part of me. I think we have a history of seeing differences as negative or inferior. As long as we continue to say we are all the same we can never address this."
I'm interested in hearing what people think. I'm not hearing the sound of Dr. King or Thurgood Marshall spinning in their graves, myself.

Darren said...

Then you're not listening.

Part of the difference between people like you and people like me is people like you read much more into skin color than just melanin.

I care about what's in people's heads and hearts, not what's in their skin or blood. You believe skin color determines that. I believe it has an impact, but to judge people on the basis of it (other than to say, that person has darker skin than I do) is something I find abhorrent.

Garimundi said...

At the risk of letting this comment section stray from the differences between people like us, I remain interested in what others (OK, *and* people like you...)think about Ms. Hollin's remarks.

R M. Gruber said...

I am glad that you live in a world where color and privelege does not come in to play. However, I don't believe that you do. We ALL have prejudice and racism exists in this society, ignoring it will not make it go away. Ignorance is not bliss if you are a person of color. Is our comfort more important than someone else's pain?

Darren said...

RM Gruber, you can choose to see a racist under every bed. I choose not to. You can choose to see a glass that's 1/10 empty, while I choose to see a glass that's 9/10 full.

Power and privilege? Ours is among the most egalitarian societies on the planet, perhaps in the history of the planet, and I won't feel guilty because it wasn't always this way.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed before I was born. The Voting Rights Act was passed the year I was born. There are words on the radio that I'm not allowed to say, lest I get beaten up or worse. There are no more legal barriers to advancement in our society (excepting tax laws); the barriers today are cultural--kept and enforced by the same people who cry "racism" at the drop of a hat.

Ignoring racism? Hell, I'm denying it, at least in a societal context. You can choose to pretend it's still 1961, but I won't. Dr. King hadn't even given his "I Have A Dream" speech yet.

R M. Gruber said...

Again, let me reitterate that your choice is your choice, but your choice does not mean truth. You keep referring to MLK and civil rights and I am glad you know your history, but that history does not erase the issues that our society faces today. Successful, progressive egalitarian society still seems to have racism and prejudice. Are you completely free of prejudice, even if your prejudice does not directly impact someone? Who are bad drivers? Who listens to rap? Who in our society is violent and angry? Can you put faces to those questions? If you say no then I will call you a liar to your face.

Do you think a white man and a hispanic man has equal privelege in this country? I am not speaking of freedom to act, but of privelege, opportunity and access. Look to the media, look in your neighborhood. Those that hold the privelege may not intentionally oppress others, but it happens none the less. Consider slavery...not of our American History, but of current world situation. There are more people bound by slavery today than there were prior to the civil war, sure it may not be in our country, but does a map define our minds as well as geographic boundaries?

Darren said...

Yes, I honestly believe that *all* Americans have equality before the law. The *opportunity* to transcend your station in life as defined by your birth is the hallmark of America today.

I don't want your "progressive, egalitarian" society. That's called communism. I want a free society, one where government doesn't determine which groups of people are protected classes and which aren't. See, I believe in individuals, not groups of individuals. I believe in individual rights, not group rights. "All men are created equal... (and)...are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights"--not all groups of people, but all people (forgive the 18th century use of the masculine).

Your comment about slavery reinforces my point about the good in our society today.

The "truth" you see isn't real for me, any more than my "truth" is real for you. Choose to feel guilty if you want, choose to denigrate your society if you want, but I'll pursue more wholesome and, dare I say it, reality-based pursuits.

Darren said...

On my blogroll is Discriminations, a blog devoted to the study and practice of discrimination in all forms, including affirmative action. Here are some quotes that I think are 100% correct:
I have complained here a number of times (most recently earlier today) about
“the transformation of ‘civil rights’ from its traditional concern with individual rights to the newer belief in group rights....” It should come as no surprise that at the core of the debate over the proper meaning of “civil rights” is a disagreement over what fairness requires.

At the heart of the traditional notion of civil rights is the belief that fairness requires judging all individuals by the same standards, without regard to race, creed, or color. The newer, “diversity”-based notion of civil rights, by contrast, requires “taking race into account” to ensure that all groups receive rewards in direct proportion to their numbers. (Unless, as we shall see, minority groups are rewarded out of proportion to their numbers.)