Monday, February 09, 2004

How race is taught 

Many years ago at SCSU, there was an annual event in which the student union was used to stage a demonstration on race. This was at the height of the anti-apartheid movement against the white South African regime. Students of color would be allowed into the building without question, but white students would be asked for their student IDs, and could be refused entry without it. White students ('students of pallor') were supposed to feel the stigma of being identified by race. There was some gossip of "power-tripping" by the guards of the building, and I always wanted to interview them to hear what they thought of the experience, but in general things went peacefully.

Best of the Web carried today a story of a school librarian in Nevada who separated her class by race.

"All the African-American children were given board games to play, and everyone else had to put their heads at the table, and they weren't to look up or speak," said Stacey Gough, whose daughter Amber is a third-grader at Manch. "She told them that she believes in everything that Martin Luther King (Jr.) had to say and she wanted the white children to know what it was like to be black back then."

Mazzulla [the librarian --kb] then allowed the black children to taunt their white classmates, Gough said her daughter told her.

"The black children were making fun of the white children, and saying things like, 'You deserve this for what your ancestors did to us,' and the teacher was letting them," Gough said.

School District officials could not confirm that Mazzulla allowed taunting, but generally acknowledged the rest of Gough's account.
The librarian is a licensed teacher and is reported to be white. The article interviews an expert who says that's not done that way normally -- "Usually, they take the blue-eyed kids and treat them differently from the brown-eyed kids." Oh, that's better. So she blew her shot at becoming the next Jane Elliott.

Joanne Jacobs notes that the school is located near Nellis Air Force base,

...which means the children of men and women serving their country are being taught to resent each other and revel in their status as victims. But they're not being taught enough about history to understand why the librarian ... thinks they should be treated differently on the basis of skin color.
Third grade. This is more than negligence.