Category Archives: racial profiling

Prudes and Prejudices (Part 1)

I mean no disrespect to the bright spirit of Jane Austin by titling this thusly. But I do have an evil itch to confront these never-ending gremlins of public behavior. There is a need to regularly chastise the shoulder demons with the red suits, horns, and little red pitchforks. And if we listened more to the shoulder angels with the white robes, halos, and harps we would be talking these things out more carefully and logically with a view to how other people besides our bilious little little lizard-brains are affected.

Part One… Prejudice

Kim Fields from The Facts of Life

When I started teaching in the 1980’s in South Texas, a popular TV show watched by many of my students was The Facts of Life. It was about a girls’ boarding school, specifically, one house mother and her charges. Not a very realistic depiction of the reality of schools in the 1980’s. But even though real house mothers would probably have at least 25 more girls to worry about and drive her insane than this TV version did, it did have a feature that gave me hope as a teacher. This show had a girl of color, something that kind of school, even in the north, would have less of than the 20% representation in this show. And, miraculously, through all the weekly girl-dilemmas for a harried house mouther to deal with, and the occasional social-issue shows, that one black girl was treated as just one of the girls. No more important nor any less important than any of the other girls. That was an ideal to strive for in the world of education.

The character of Tootie (Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey played by Kim Fields) was a perky and positive character, sweet and charming, and possessing a high degree of emotional intelligence. I remember wishing I had more students like that. But I did have a number of girls exactly like that, though they were Hispanic and Anglo. We had no “black” families in Cotulla, Texas during the 80’s, and only two families and one teacher in the entire 23 years I taught there.

But prejudice is not about what color a kid is. Or what color any human being is. As a teacher, I learned early on that you have to try to love every kid you are given no matter what their personal details are.

I remember teachers saying that, “Black kids are noisier than any other group, and more likely to be aggressive.” Or they also tried to convince me that, “Hispanic kids are too mature for their age and become sexually active sooner in life than they should.” Of course, there were usually examples they were talking about. But those examples weren’t proof that the prejudice is based on reality. They were proof that generalizations based on race, first language, or culture are potentially hurtful. I could point to examples that might indicate that, “White kids are more likely to say racist things than non-white kids are.” That is also an unfounded conclusion that is easily disproven by a majority of examples.

The real problems a teacher has dealing with students don’t come from any prejudicial generalizations. They come from students having to endure things outside of the classroom including poverty, homelessness, physical and emotional abuse at home, malnutrition, or untreated mental or medical conditions. And sometimes the misbehavior is caused by the teacher forgetting or skipping the essential practices necessary to controlling the classroom environment.

Everybody has prejudices. My favorite color is red. I favor it almost always whenever I have a free choice among colors to use. But the problem with prejudices is how we act on them. If I burn down my neighbor’s house because he painted it green rather than red, then I have been morally reprehensible. Not racism, but still an evil act based on my prejudice.

The teenager who got away with hunting protesters and killing two white ones in Wisconsin with a “self-defense” verdict is guilty of acting on a prejudice that people who are protesting a racially motivated police shooting are properly and justifiably shot and killed for protesting in favor of their side of the controversy. He crossed a State line to a community he did not live in to be involved in that opportunity to kill someone he disagreed with using his illegally purchased AR-15 even though the victims were unarmed. Maybe you can’t prove racism. But how about prejudice against protesters who believe they shouldn’t be killed for their beliefs?

In Texas the conservatives are using a hatred and an anti-Critical Race Theory law to exert their racism in Texas schools. The Southlake School District has fired a beloved principal because he had the poor judgement to be married to a white woman and speak his mind in an email about being against the killing of George Floyd. Apparently he was guilty of promoting Critical Race Theory in the school even though Critical Race Theory is a law-school process for examining systemic racism in law enforcement. That, of course, is NOT taught in any Texas grade school, middle school, or high school. He was actually fired for having the opinion (while black) that George Floyd should not have been killed by policemen in Minnesota. They are transparently acting on their racism and proving the need for law schools to continue examining Critical Race Theory. Their excuse is that white kids are being taught to feel guilty of the atrocities their ancestors committed because of racism. So, apparently, how black kids feel about the same things don’t counr.

Through prejudices, teachers will no longer be able to teach tolerance during Black History Month in February. The novel Beloved by Toni Morrison can no longer be taught in high schools. The book Ruby Bridges wrote about her experience with integrating the white grade school in Little Rock, Arkansas can no longer be taught in history classes.

Explain to me why this fundamentally racist prejudice is to be tolerated! But be warned, my personal prejudices are telling me to protest this crap. And you can’t fire me for having taught these things in the past since I am now retired from teaching. You’ll just have to get a teenager with an AR-15 to kill me.

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Today in Rabbit-People News

Okay, big miscalculation here. My old eyes can’t read the rabbit-talk in this cartoon. So, let me do something about it.

Nope. I can read it now. But that’s the problem. Not only is it not funny, but it’s also sorta racist. But wolves do eat rabbits. Still…

News in the RabbitTown Gazette includes the fact that my son is nearing recovery from COVID 19, and nobody in the house has caught it from him. He gets tested on Saturday so he can return to work if the test is negative.

Of course, the nation-wide news is not so great. This is 2020 after all, even in RabbitTown. The price of carrots is still within reach. But rabbit people are continuing to get sick from the pandemic which will be with us well into 2021.

And the weasel in the really bad weasel-wig that somehow got elected Prexydon’t is still favoring wolf-people, even when they kill an unarmed rabbit. And he blames the rabbits for being mad about how the wolves seemed to get away with murder. He twists the facts to suggest that exercising your right to peaceful protest is the cause of the chaos.

Yes, I am basically a rabbit too.

According to the featured editorial in the RabbitTown Gazette, you should be able to say, “Rabbit lives matter!” without having wolves answer back, “You mean ALL lives matter!”

After all, if you can’t admit out loud that “Rabbit lives matter,” then you really mean the opposite when you are saying, “ALL lives matter.”

Rabbits, whether they are black, white, brown, or red, have unique rabbit qualities, and they all have a basic worth. And I don’t mean as food for wolves.

The paper seems to have only bad news about the economy when you look at it from a rabbit perspective. Sure, the wolves are doing great right now on Wall Street, but that doesn’t help those of us who are not invested in the stalk market. We regular rabbits, and especially poor rabbits, are struggling to keep carrots on the table.

So, it is time for all good rabbits to do whatever a rabbit can. And that’s the way it was today in Rabbit News.

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All That Really Matters

I was not able to post yesterday for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is the turmoil caused by this nation trying to come to terms with those sins of the past that come back to haunt us and hunt us in the present.

I am an old white man. I suffer from “white privilege” in ways I can’t explain to some of my white friends back in Iowa, a State that was almost entirely white when I was growing up there. (And I pray that I grew UP, not just old.)

I learned yesterday that it matters how you put in order the things that you can say on matters of race. You can’t just say, “Black lives matter” to some white people. They will angrily insist that “All lives matter.” They will then proceed to tell you that you are being a racist when you suggest that black people are somehow more important than white people. I learned that you should say instead, “All lives matter, which means black lives certainly matter too. And the debate now is about a few recent black lives that were treated like they didn’t matter, and so, their lives ended in being murdered.” You can’t give white people a reasonable-sounding way to get out of admitting that, or they will. (See, I can be a bit racist too. I sometimes have a hard time believing all white people have positive human feelings in them somewhere.)

My illustrations for this post all came from Pinterest.

It has often, in my teaching career, been a disadvantage to be a white male. Black kids don’t believe you can see them as a good person. If you have to call them down for misbehavior, the worst ones will automatically assume it is about their race and not their behavior. A good teacher needs to listen more than they talk. You have to get them to open up about what happens in their lives that makes them behave the way that they do. You have to make them understand that you actually care about them and want to help. You have to earn their trust to get their best learning behavior. And being white makes that all so much harder. Not just with Afro Americans. Hispanic kids too. Vietnamese kids too. And I promise you, if you take the time to really get to know a kid… from any race or culture… you will discover that underneath it all, there are no bad kids. You stand a very good chance of learning to love them… no matter their racial or cultural differences from you.

And as an old white man, I suffer the disadvantage of never being able to truly understand what it feels like to have to worry that, at any moment, the police might kill you with a gun, or press the life out of you with a knee on your neck… just because of the color of your skin. That is in no way a fair thing that black men, black women, and black kids have to worry about that.

I am saddened and frustrated too that I can’t do any more to correct this terrible injustice than I am doing. I can’t attend protests because of my poor health and the pandemic that will probably kill me anyway. I am too old and crippled and broke to do any more than write this essay and post things on social media that make some of my old white friends angry and ready to argue.

I feel bad. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and too many more diminish me, make me hurt in my heart. And all I can do about it is tell you that there needs to be more love in this world, and less hate. And I hope maybe you have a little more of it to add to the world. After all, that’s all that really matters.

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Filed under 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, angry rant, commentary, compassion, empathy, kids, Liberal ideas, philosophy, racial profiling

Internal Evil, External Policy

CjUSsQkVAAE2A9TThe Republicans have found another scandal to pursue.  Two FBI personnel were texting each other messages about how stupid and incompetent Donald Trump is.  (As well as why one of them may have voted for him since they hated Hillary too.)  The one agent who was involved in the Mueller investigation of Trump was immediately removed from the investigation when evidence of the possibility of lack of impartiality surfaced.  This happened long before the Republican Conspiracy Elephants sniffed out the detail to make a big stinky in the media about it.  Now, apparently the FBI has become a secret society wrongfully plotting against Trump.

One wonders how a Republican government can investigate a Republican scandal and do it in a way that at least looks like justice in action instead of howling at the wind in order to make it blow in the other direction.

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The basic problem is what the Republican mind has on the inside.  Basically they all have the same thought embedded in the peanut they think with.  “If it doesn’t benefit me and what I want from government, then it isn’t true no matter what facts you show me.”  And of course, that thought has a corollary (even though they don’t know what corollary means), “I’m good with any lie told as long it supports hatred of those people I want to hate.”  Republicans who think with larger pieces of produce, and so don’t have those thoughts engraved in their brains, have either left the Republican Party, like George Will did, or separated themselves from the Trump faction and started a campaign to take their party back, like Bill Crystal did.

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Anybody who thinks about the evidence honestly, without partisan bias, has to admit that there is obviously guilt involved in all of this.  And Trump himself blowing back against the prevailing winds is only making it more and more obvious that he is at the top of the pile of evil actors.  They cannot keep going down this path of shouting down the truth without turning Trump into Hitler, and 2018 into 1939.  Muslims will take the role of Jews.

So, what can we do about it?  We make our votes count.  And when the Mueller investigation reaches its conclusions, we believe them.

Dave Granlund / politicalcartoons.com

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“It’s a Hard-Knock Life… for Us”

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Yes, this is another in a series of reviews from the Uncritical Critic where I gush endlessly and almost mindlessly about movies, TV, books, and other sorts of stories that I love.  And just like other reviews that I have done, writing mainly to myself, this will probably bore you to the point of having to sandpaper  your tush just to stay conscious through it.  But I do, in fact, have a social conscience.  I do care about things moral and ethical.  That’s why I’m not going to talk about this Annie;

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I want to talk about this one;

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I am not sure how any of my white, conservative friends can work up such an angry fizzyblackengrrr about the remake of the musical using black actors as the principles.  I am not saying I don’t see color and I don’t notice the changes in the basic story to make it fit a more different-race-friendly cultural magnetism.  I am saying I love the changes.

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Quvenzhane Wallis is one of those little girls that, if she were actually an orphan, would be adopted in record time.  She sings, dances, and exudes a personal charisma to a degree that is not only perfect for this particular musical, but is not an act.  It is obviously her real, perky, upbeat self.  I would adopt her instantly even though I don’t have the finances, energy, or good health necessary to make that kind of commitment any more.  And the changes made to the songs, setting, and themes of the basic story I think are not only brilliant, but so very appropriate to our times.  The story of an orphan connecting to a lonely, power-hungry billionaire is transformed by the idea of finding the best way to connect the family that you not only want, but desperately need.  The Daddy Warbucks character, played brilliantly by Jamie Foxx, is able to realize his connection to his own lost father as he transforms himself into the father figure that Annie needs.  Songs are added and dialogue is changed in ways to bring out these complex themes of love and need.  It is a very different story from the one found in the Aileen Quinn/Carol Burnett film of the 1980’s.  And it is a story that needs to be told.

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“You are never fully dressed without a smile!” is an important theme for any person of color, or any outsider in our American society today.  The troubles and strife related to race tension, violence, and the American struggle to rid itself of racism are best faced with a kind of confident optimism that this musical was always intended to be a vehicle for.

It is a statement about the basic goodness of human beings.  This version of the musical even redeems the vile Miss Hannigan, leaving her at the end with a change of heart and a Hispanic boyfriend.  So, I really think that anyone who has a problem with this remake of a beloved musical made by Jay-Z, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith ought to examine the real reasons they feel troubled by it.  I think they really ought to let go of all baggage, especially the alligator-skin bags of racism, and just immerse themselves in this wonderful movie full of singy and dancy stuff.

 

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Sincerest Apologizes, Mr. Mohamed

This picture is from Ahmed's sister's cell phone... I think.

This picture is from Ahmed’s sister’s cell phone… I think.

Dear Ahmed Mohamed,

I am sorry that Texas is what it is.  Land of the big white lie and home of the brave-if-you-don’t-confront-them-with-people-they-don’t-understand sort of cowboys.  I am a veteran Texas teacher with a lot of English as a Second Language teaching experience.  I am quite familiar with kids like you.  You built something wonderful that worked and showed off your electrical engineering skills and your future promise as an inventor.  It was a clock.  And you wanted to show it to your engineering teacher… which you did.  And he was impressed.  But he told you not to show it to your other teachers for a very good reason.  Some of them are white people.  Some of them are Texas conservatives.  And you had no way of knowing how they would see a Muslim kid with a strange wired-up device in his back pack.  The rest of the world does not look at such things with the fearful eyes of a cowboy conservative, or automatically make the assumptions that were made.  You see, these people love guns and shooting stuff with a deep abiding passion that they really can’t believe other people don’t share.  It is an unfortunate feature of being a cowboy conservative that they are addicted to Bubba-thinking.

In case you forgot about what actually happened I have included some YouTube videos to refresh your memory.

Bubba-thinking allows cowboy conservatives to convince themselves that the solution to violence in schools and terrorist threats is a “good-guy with a gun”.  They think that some clear-thinking hero-type (white guy) can make a correct assessment of a possible threat in a split second, and quickly react, taking out the threat with a well-placed shot that would never miss the intended target and do damage somewhere else, thus rendering the “bad-guy” (usually brown or black) sincerely executed without the need for an expensive trial that might only have let him walk away from his crime, or intended crime, a free but wiser (also living) man.  Bubbas believe with the fervor of religion that “bad-guys” need to get what’s coming to them.

So, this is why they arrested you.  To prevent you from killing innocent school children with your clock which might’ve somehow turned out to be a bomb, because you are from the same part of the world as those evil, icky ISIS guys that cut people’s heads off.  They suspended you from school because, even though no bomb squad was called to diffuse your clock, and they soon learned that it was only a homemade clock, they were convinced that you were trying to scare people and become famous with a hoax bomb, the law they actually invoked to cover up their mistreatment of you.

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I hope you are happy in your new school.  I hope you appreciate that you have the last laugh in all of this because the notoriety and viral Facebook fame you have achieved will open more doors for you and take you to places far beyond the simple teacher’s approval you were seeking for your inventive talents.  And I hope in your new school you will have fewer encounters with the Bubba-thinking of some Texas teachers.

Sincerely and with apologies,

Mickey

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