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BAD WHITE PEOPLE! : A debate in the U.S. E-Democracy Forum under the heading of "move beyond teacher bashing”

(April 3, 2011 to April 8, 2011)


What passes for a debate on race in Minnesota.


From: Amy Lynn Johnson Date: April 3, 2011 2:51 p.m.

Its been a long time since the "philosophy of teaching" has been discussed in the media, legislature, or by the Department of Education themselves.

Here is a tidbit to the "philosophy of teaching" which used to be the bedrock: "Create an environment which releases potential of the student and that the teacher focuses on the potential of the student".

Case in point:  http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cair-asks-doe-to-address-racial-tensions-in-minn-schools-89016242.html

My favorite teacher in grade school sat me down one day to explain to me that if I was a student of color in an urban school district I would've been placed in a home by now (meaning a reformatory school).  It was the fall of my sixth grade year and she had spent the summer teaching remedial classes in the urban schools and I think she also taught during the year at the local boys and girls reformatory near by.

It floored me and I was extremely hurt, at 11 years old I could understand why she expected me to disown "white priviledge". But how could I go to the school, the social workers and the county to explain "lock me up and I am just as guilty of being a disappointment as the city kids of color, I'll share their fate".  Its a massive guilt complex I have carried into adulthood and I don't think it will fade.  At least the sentiments that started this thread actually stokes the tender coals of shame and guilt burried in my chest.  

But its true.  Urban schools get newly licensed, newly graduated teachers who only plan to teach disadvantaged students for possibly 3-5 years and then once they've earned their spurs go on to teach in surburban or rural schools.  New education graduates, new teachers see it as a form of punishment, and its believed they aren't really spending the first few to several years of their career doing anything productive, nor developing skills that would serve them well in the last half of their careers.

THis is exactly the type of environment discussed in the teacher's lounge in my fifth and sixth grade years, a core group of my teachers were embroiled by this as a form of social injustice.  These same teachers also spent an hour or two a couple times a week in early mornings with MAMM handing out tea, coffee and pastries to United Defense employees as they entered their corporate campus at Hopkins Crossroads.  They came to our school everyday after they had spent their mornings begging defense industry employees to build bombs and mines not specifically to kill or maim children (at that point in time United Defense products were doing exactly that).  

My heros were my teachers, and they were hippies that aged, but never stopped protesting; but they resented their success because they ended up exactly where they were needed the least surburban school filled to the brim with entitled brats of white priviledge.  Their experience and skill set would have better served in MPS and SPPS.

Nothing in this state has changed in 30 years, I am just gutted and filled with shame.

I remember when this situation first broke to the media, the SPPS denied the allegations and admitted it had done little to none investigation to verify the students and parents claims.

* Students wrote racist essays for their English class and posted them on a class blog to harass Muslim students.
* A bus driver left Muslim students waiting at a bus stop on several occasions, driving past them when she saw them and telling them: "Catch me if you can."
* A World History teacher made disparaging comments about Islam and Muslims in class.
* A teacher, on several occasions, handed students a can of air freshener and instructed them to spray the room when Muslim students walked into class.

THese four examples have to be a small 2% portion of instances, ongoing racial hatred, faith hatred.   I've heard plenty of this from students in MPS as well.

A decade ago I taught ESl as a volunteer at a local church, I took a break after 3 years of this beloved activity and came back to it in 2009.  This time instead of volunteers ranging in ages 25-70 years of a variety of different backgrounds the same church ESL program was filled to the brim with Americorps volunteers college aged and half were education majors.

I fell in love with ESL tutoring over a decade ago, and not a single ignorant or biased comment would have gone unchallenged in the volunteer resource room.  In 2009 that had changed.

These kids who compromised ESL tutoring positions were nasty.  THey showed up for possibly 3-5 nights out of a 14 night committment spread out once a week over a two semester Americorp program.  They wouldn't bother to call the ESL center at the church to inform them if they were going to miss a night or if they had changed their Americorps schedule to a different activity.  They complained that the adult ESL learners smelled, were uncomfortable around under-dressed female  volunteers, and they complained none of them knew any English.

Well isn't that why the ESL adult learners were there?  I overheard other ESL volunteers yell, admonish, insult their students for not interacting in class with other students and the teacher.  Student turnover was as high as volunteer teacher turn over. The resource room ended up being used to loudly congregate and complain about the students, immigration policy, crime and the utter waste of US tax dollars in the Americorp program to address efforts to support immigrants in transition to self-sustaining skills sets (my wording not Americorps volunteers, I'll spare you that discomfort).

So I gave up and tried a different ESL program, this time at a housing project.  This time I was the only non-Americorp volunteer.  First night I was there I was questioned heavily by the manager of the children's afterschool program on whether or not I was "country".  Obviously I am not.  He also went on to state loud enough for me to hear 20 feet away in another room that he joined the Americorps program to rebuild America's infastructure, not to enable refugees who have no intent to assimilate or get off of welfare.  He also complained that federal dollars support the housing project so all common areas in the building only English should be spoken.  

He was just one person, there was a revolving door and ignorant, biased, hate-filled anti-immigrant Americorp volunteers who would make similar comments to the four bulleted situations above from the "CAIR" dispute with SPPS.  This was home to hundreds of immigrant families, their children must deal with this type of hatred at school, at home, in the neighborhood and their parents must deal with the same a work.  

For the record I have met about 4 Americorp volunteers that didn't display this type of behavior, and they were patronized, bullied by the Americorp site leaders.  And the paid full time staff at these programs were of course former Americorp volunteers who while they didn't spend as much time gripping, their sentiments weren't that different.

And people are concerned about "teacher bashing".   

Sorry folks, I have held on to these experiences, feelings for almost 2 years and I am still devasted, disheartened.  I think about it nearly every day and quite frankly I am embarassed to be a Minnesotan by what I have witnessed.

 

From: Bill McGaughey Date: April 3, 2011 8:36 a.m.

I wish to express a different opinion than what was presented in Amy Lynn Johnson’s latest posting.  Her observations are heart-felt and, no doubt, true.  But we must get out of the rut of hate-filled perceptions and opinions. Educators seem prone to this.

Let me defend white people for a change.  I do not condone the unkind behavior cited in Johnson’s posting.  Yes, many white Americans resent immigrants and, yes, many white teachers regard inner-city schools in condescending ways.  But how do you expect them to feel?  The white identity has been officially trashed.  “White privilege” is a derogatory term.  If young whites in suburbia are regarded as “entitled brats of white priviledge”, they may start behaving as such.

It is not permitted for an advocate of white people, even a scholarly one, to speak at our respected universities.  If we had an open and honest discussion of race, some of the racial hatred might be dissipated.  However, the “anti-racist” zealots will not permit this.  They have phoned in death threats to hotels that have agreed to host conferences planned by “white supremacists” wishing to deny these people their first amendment rights.  Political correctness rules.

A place to start to build better race relations is for the anti-racists to let up just a bit - to try to be a bit more tolerant of the people they despise.  If they themselves are white, it should not be hard to find a few good white people.  Perhaps their own parents fall into this category?  Look for the good things rather than listing the bad (as CAIR does) and perhaps you’ll find something.

Living in a racially mixed environment, I know of positive things happening around me - involving persons of all races, not organizations so much - and I wish we could occasionally focus on them.  Give white people some dignity and respect and maybe they’ll start respecting you.

From: Wizard Marks Date: April 3, 2011 12:24 p.m.

Mr. McGaughey, please. It's not about white people, it's about the behavior of white people. It's about white demand for all the power. It's about all us chickens being an equal member of the flock. Throughout the spectrum of white people--IN THIS COUNTRY--there are those throwbacks who actually have fooled themselves into thinking they are superior, by definition, than the rest of the flock.

It's not about skin color in the end. It about the arrogant assumption of, the demand for, and the enforcement of privilege. Period, end of story.

What Amy Johnston is describing is a particularly blatant form of ignorance about anybody not in the speaker's assumption of class privilege. They are also young and stupid enough still, to assume that anyone within hearing range is equally stupid and assumption bound.

It's not about white skin, Mr. McGaughey, it's about you and me and the guy behind the tree who exhibit behaviors, create laws, insist on living as though they were more important to the survival of the species, and will shoot you, bash you, refuse to employ you, keep you from living on a block. It's about the many screaming to the few, that they are behaving like idiots and would they please, get their big feet off of everyone else neck, for the love o' Mike.

It's also a disingenuous to excuse uncivil behavior by pretending that skin color, per se, is the issue. 'Oh, you're only saying that because I'm white. I'm not like that." The hell you aren't! If you are not actively engaged in shedding your assumption of privilege, then you are part of the problem, not part of the solution. And that's what people talking about race are talking about. Sheesh!

From: Amy Lynn Johnson Date: April 3, 2011 3:30 p.m.

Wizard should be surprised, but in volunteering older folks were the best suited.

They might have had assumptions and ignorance toward a different culture but they kept it to themselves and had the "wait and see approach".  Geezer ESL volunteers rule!  Even if they were suburbanites I feel safe around them.

Whitey power advocates are dangerously courting 'seditious speech" which isn't protected by the first amendment.   But I don't condone violence or threats toward human scum anyway.

What bothers me is that the Americorp volunteer's EFC (Estimated Family Contribution) towards college funding is so low that there is little difference in regards to class or income between them the volunteer and the ESL adult or child learner.
It was the middle class raised Americorp volunteer who were the four who didn't behave in this manner.  

And why in the hell do we make children suffer fools?  Why do children get the brunt of this abuse motived by racial hatred?

And why is the MPS and SPPS doing so little to address this type of racism?

I can see why families of color are fleeing for the burbs; immigrant, biracial and non-white students of color are doing better in the burbs.  And yes surburban schools are better funded, which is why I always vote yes for an education tax levy.

Mind you I noticed many of the Americorp volunteers with ignorance and racial hatred also didn't grow up in a major city, all were rural raised and legacy students at the UofMN and St. Cates, Macalester.  I hope to God these volunteers change their major so they don't end up in MPS and SPPS classrooms.

Riding public transit I see an enormous difference in joy of inner city kids of color; before the first grade and after.  Growing within knowledge and a house full of people your own age shouldn't suck the life out of these kids.

From: Wizard Marks Date: April 3, 2011 4:00 p.m.

As a genuine chronological senior citizen, being called a "geezer" is truly offensive. Same for "Old duffer," "white head" and other terms I consider signs of agism in the speaker..

It does not surprise me that seniors were the better volunteers. One of the bonuses of age is patience, not because we wanted to nurture patience, but because impatience takes a lot more energy.

I spent three years as an Americorp VISTA in the America Reads section. It was the best job I ever had. The work was interesting, I was more successful at it than I ever expected to be, nor did the VISTA supervisor expect, and it was only a few blocks away from my house. I was already in my late fifties when I volunteered and the other volunteers my age and a lot older were also great in dealing with kids.

Of course we rock.

From: Amy Lynn Johnson Date: April 3, 2011 11:18 p.m.

Wizard, you are right I probably shouldn't use that term around those who are insecure or easily offended.

Still there are plenty of terms used on e-dem that I consider offensive to my age group, plenty of references that are stereotypical, generation-centered and a general disregard for youth concerns in political discourse.

If you've ever read that list of "white priviledge" there is plenty whities don't consider that clearly disregards other ethnicities.  Same with age.  

In the last 40 years political items such as education has been on the backburner except in regards to slashing education budget or to build in programs that deter crime amongst youth.

Very little in the political sphere that discuss positives youth can bring to society except that they quickly grow up, go to work, and pay taxes.

What bothers me is I didn't notice this until a bunch of international students at MCTC made these observations in class. First time it was a Japanese male who spoke out of turn and made this observationand a bunch of white neo-con students instantly bashed him, it was the first time a woman had spoken so frankly to him.  This observation was echoed by a number of my African, Asian classmates.  

Treating the youth like a underfunded, dangerous resource has its disadvantages, probably why many of my generation are not very politically minded, and are not progressive.

 

From: Neala Schleuning Date: April 4, 2011 6:55 a.m

Amy, I agree with Wizard, and I don't know why you would use words like that ever.  What is the purpose?  Better to remove it from your vocabulary rather than try to read audiences all the time for sensitivities.  Some language, of course, is situation specific, but if you are in a general situation, it is better to be cautious and respectful.  That is not a respectful word.  And BTW, I'm not particularly sensitive. Call me what you like, but expect a response if I don't like it.



Comment: Talking about race is too painful. While keeping our anti-white prejudices intact, maybe we can debate “ageism”.

 

From: Bill McGaughey Date: April 4, 2011 9:18 a.m.

Neala Schleuning writes:  "Treating the youth like a underfunded, dangerous resource has its disadvantages, probably why many of my generation are not very politically minded, and are not progressive."

Evidently, she thinks that today's education is designed to make young people "progressive", which, in practical terms, means to teach white people to be ashamed of their "privilege".  No, maybe the reason young people aren't "progressive" in those terms is that they are reacting negatively to hate.  I believe there is an inherent health among our population of young people that rejects the vitriol being passed about in academic, journalistic, and other establishments in the name of progress.

 

From: Neala Schleuning Date: April 4, 2011 10:23 a.m

Wasn't me, Bill.  Please aim your charges at the correct individual.

 


From: Bill McGaughey Date: April 4, 2011 10:15 a.m.

Neala Schleuning writes: "Wasn't me, Bill.  Please aim your charges at the correct individual."

Schleuning is right.  It wasn't her.  I apologize.

If someone wishes to hurl ageist invectives at me, I won't complain.

From: Bruce Leier Date: April 4, 2011 10:38 a.m.

Please give some evidence about any of these claims.

 

From: Wizard Marks Date: April 4, 2011 3:24 p.m.

Mr. McGaughey, you are bound and determined to be a victim as a white man. Get over yourself! You are not a victim.

What is being asked of anyone is to acknowledge that, if you are white, whether you are as poor as a church mouse or Donald Trump, you have privileges that others do not have. Some of that privilege is muted if you are female, GLBT, differently abled, old, fat--whatever. But much of that privilege still remains.

If you want to pretend that you should be ashamed of that privilege, and thus a victim, you are not dealing with reality. What is being asked of you and me and all the other white people, is to stop the behaviors which negatively impact people who do not have privilege.

As a white male, you are not a victim.

As a white male, you are not a victim.

As a white male, you most decidedly are NOT a victim.”

 

From: Bill McGaughey Date: April 5, 2011 10:30 a.m.

Wizard Marks writes: "Mr. McGaughey, you are bound and determined to be a victim as a white man. Get over yourself! You are not a victim.
.....

As a white male, you are not a victim.
As a white male, you are not a victim.
As a white male, you most decidedly are NOT a victim."

Well, it seems that the victimhood franchise is being vigorously protected by representatives of the entrenched interest groups. Let me assure you I am not interested in joining that club. Marks and her cohorts can have that territory to themselves.

However, I will continue to speak out against the hate directed at white people, white males, or whomever. This is wrong. It cannot last among reasonably honest, thinking people.

 

From: Bruce Leier Date: April 5, 2011 1:38 p.m.

What hate? I don't feel any hate when I pass. I do see privilege however. I do feel hate sometimes when I don't try to pass.

 

Comment: This discussion illustrates what the Chinese call “singing to a cow”.

 

From: Bill McGaughey Date: April 5, 2011 10:30 p.m.

Wizard Marks writes: "Mr. McGaughey, you are bound and determined to be a victim as a white man. Get over yourself! You are not a victim.
.....
As a white male, you are not a victim.
As a white male, you are not a victim.
As a white male, you most decidedly are NOT a victim."

Well, it seems that the victimhood franchise is being vigorously protected by representatives of the entrenched interest groups. Let me assure you I am not interested in joining that club. Marks and her cohorts can have that territory to themselves.

However, I will continue to speak out against the hate directed at white people, white males, or whomever. This is wrong. It cannot last among reasonably honest, thinking people.

 

From: Wizard Marks Date: April 6, 2011 1:41 a.m.

When I came to Minnesota some 40 years ago, I was amazed at all the blond hair and blue eyes. I had been living in Brooklyn, NY at the corner of Hicks and Atlantic and NYC is a place where everybody is everybody and everybody is there. I'd come there after years of experience in East St. Louis, IL. Arriving here, I plunked myself down at 33rd and Portland in the middle of a neighborhood that was "diverse." I was no longer comfortable in a one race neighborhood like the one I grew up in.

At the same time, I only know my grandparents, since my greats, except for one, never came to America. They all seem to be white and are accepted as white. But I remember seeing a National Geographic program on the Tuareg (sp) people of the North African desserts. Women in the pictures were wearing those Tuareg blue burka-like clothing. Then the camera zoomed in one one woman, who was really beautiful and quite black. I almost fell out of my chair. This woman looked exactly like my mother, except for being black (my mom was red haired and sun shy and could blister at a weather report of a sunny day).

It goes right to the heart of the Human Genome Project which pointed out that all the people on this planet are related. It's like horses, they can be piebald, roan. black, white, dapple gray or bay, but they're all horses. People are quite the same, though smaller and only two-legged.

It's altogether immaterial what color we are. We're all part of the human herd. This goes back to Joe Nathan's original reason for this thread, bashing people for whatever reason is totally counterproductive and flies in the face of the needs of our species to survive.

Ergo, the only thing we have left, to organize some kind of rough order, has got to be behavior. I'm not naive enough to think that other cultures or societies are any different except in who they choose to consider the out crowd.

That means, in this country, that the work of re-examining behavior is the work of white people, since in this country whites are still operating under the notion that they are the best of the breed. As a rule, black people don't trust us--nor should they. Indians don't trust us--and they have excellent reasons. So any pronouncements like "standing up for whites against hate" is so much bull dookey. Criticism, even harsh (and deserved) criticism is not hate.

Had people been watching the leggie this 87th session, it would be to hear the compressed compendium of privilege, ignorance, and pride in that ignorance of white people both male and female--and Republican. It is teacher bashing by
action, poor people bashing, kid bashing, elder bashing, black bashing, Indian bashing, disabled bashing, urban dweller bashing, Iron Range bashing. It's quite disgusting. And every one of them avers to be Christian on top of that.

 

From: Bill McGaughey Date: April 6, 2011 10:30 a.m.

Wizard, I don't like some of the stuff happening in government any more than you do. But it's not "white people" doing this. It's particular government officials. If we focus on the particular problem, maybe we - if our democracy can be fixed - can do something about it. We cannot do anything about our racial nature.

 

From: Mike Boguszewski Date: April 6, 2011 9:28 a.m.

   Bill, thank you. Also, here's something to consider for anyone still trying to classify and categorize motivations by race (fr. Wikip. based on latest census data):

Multiracial Americans numbered 6.8 million in 2000, or 2.4% of the population. Now statistics show that the percentage has increased to 6.7% in 2010. Now over 12.5 million in November 2010[2]

6.7% -- may not seem like much, but that means it's almost tripled in 10 years. Stripping aside ANY feelings of good, bad, success, failure, better society, worse society, or anything in between, the simple fact is that the occurance of interracial births is going to increase -- and will increase in an accelerated way -- (now don't you wish you'd studied caluclus harder?) -- simply because as the population mix continues to shift, the "opportunities" for multiracial parenting are going to increase increasingly. Whatever reason people have for parenting, statistically the very concept of "race", at least in our country, has already begun a slide to obsolescence. Is this geographically isolated?

Sure -- here in Minnesota, where our starting point for potential for "making" multiracial people was so low, we will likely be further out on the statistical curve. But, to my mind, anyway, ultimately race just won't matter. So, when one chooses to interpret decisions through a lens of "white", "black", " hispanic", "native American", whatever, they are really, I think, showing their own true stripes of bias and prejudice -- or should that be "stripe", as in, only one color?

Two opinions: 1- I'd rather live in our messy, but ultimately REAL melting pot of a country, than in almost any other where ethnicity is still the major indicator of freedom and success in those societies; 2- the above is about technical "race" -- it doesn't address "culture" -- I would believe, I do believe, that individuals can still celebrate whatever culture or multiple cultures they recognize as part of their history, whether that be one, many, or they simply choose to identify with one or some subset. Remember, there was a time and place on this Earth when even a mixed German-French-English heritage would have been considered exotic. In time, our current distinctions will seem as quaintly "old world" as that does.

 

From: Robert Albee Date: April 6, 2011 11:44 a.m.

We can always do something about our racial nature. But we don't or won't. We can vote people out of office! If we don't, then most of us assent to a continuation of those decisions.

 

From: Wizard Marks Date: April 6, 2011 1:41 p.m.

Here is a snippet from Lee Mun Wah's film "The Color of Fear" on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vAbpJW_xEc&feature=player_embedded

This is to counter the denial inherent in the posts on this thread (and others) of Mr. McGaughey.

 

From: Bill McGaughey Date: April 5, 2011 10:30 a.m.

I watched the video clip presented by Wizard Marks in which three people of color confront a white man in a hateful racial exchange. The white man argues that America offers everyone opportunity. Much of the clip is of the black man
shouting angrily at the white man to the effect that white people have ruined the world. At the end, the white man sits in silence for a few seconds indicating, in Hollywood terms, that the black man had won the argument. Video editing is used to create such an effect.

This may impress Marks but it does not impress me. The white man retained his dignity in the exchange; the black man lost his self-righteous temper.

All this has little to do with actual race relations. It's an internal debate among self-hating white people mostly, with a few others thrown in. Racial salvation does not lie in such productions.

 

From: Wizard Marks Date: April 8, 2011 10:11a.m.

   
W McGaughey: "I watched the video clip presented by Wizard Marks in which three people of color confront a white man in a hateful racial exchange. The white man argues that America offers everyone opportunity. Much of the clip is of the black man shouting angrily at the white man to the effect that white people have ruined the world."

Lee Mun Wah's film, whether some can admit it or not, says nothing of the kind. One of the clips of the film on YouTube has three young people reflecting on what a white guy is saying.

I had the same experience when I was about 22. Some black Vietnam vets who had been US Army groundpounders, only a couple of months out of the rainforests of Vietnam, were pointing out the same thing to me (and others) as the young men in Lee Mun Wash's film were pointing out to the white man. (This film has been shown on PBS.)

The young men of color were not rude or out of hand, they were angry at the self promoting ignorance of the white guy. To mischaracterize a truth teller in an attempt to justify one's own determined ignorance, is to lie to oneself and to others.

The angry young man in the film tried to penetrate the wall of cultural ignorance the white guy had built up to protect his otion of his privilege.

It's of course, scummy of McGaughey to mislabel anyone who understands what people of color are saying as self-hating. I'm fairly sure that Gallilelahi (sp) felt the same way when the Pope and his minions refused to accept the notion that the earth revolves around the sun. Why, because that notion of planetary movement went against the accepted myth. Maintaining the myth was essential to maintaining power over the many.

The young men in Lee Mun Wah's film were frustrated that the white guy could not see the reality of the lives of those young men. The white guy was in such thoroughgoing denial that hearing the real stories of those young men was blocked from his brain.

The young men were asking a truly human thing--walk a mile in my shoes and see how it feels.

I was lucky. A Vietnam vet named Frank Smith taught me that my world view was way the hell off the mark. I was young and eager to learn so put myself in a position to learn. Thank god I was young and could work on unraveling all the weirdness that reinforces myth.

I used to hope that we could change racial dynamics in five or ten generations, but we've had seven generations since the Emancipation Proclamation and millions are still adamantly stuck in continuing the myth. It's not about skin color, it's about the assumption of privileges as a consequence of the accident of skin color.

So, no, Mr. McGaughey, I'm not a self-hater. I'm a realist who thinks we'd do much better as a species if we included everyone, rather than culling the herd on a bunch of immaterial baloney. When people are determined to muck about in the mud, they hold the whole species back. That's a formula for going the way of the dodo bird. Thanks, but no thanks.

Joe Nathan might be able to jump in here about what sort of syndrome it is to be determined to stay ignorant in the face of reality.

 

From: Bill McGaughey Date: April 8, 2011 11:22 a.m.

Wizard Marks has her interpretation of that race video, and I have mine. Since the video clip itself is embedded in Marks' earlier post, maybe interested persons can decide for themselves whether the video promotes better race relations. Minds are not being changed here.

 

Comment: At this point, the forum moderator asked us to knock it off.

 

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