Author Topic: on racism ....  (Read 1789 times)

Croghan27

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on racism ....
« on: July 08, 2011, 09:03:57 AM »
Some thoughts:
 
Last week a friend from university passed away, she had been my wife's roomate and they shared an apartment before our marriage. She was black - one of the intellectual leaders of the black community in Saint John.
 
Her younger sister, in the early 70's, was a HS student in SJ and Huckleberry Finn was on the reading curriculum. There is a character in the book who's name is "nigger Jim" - she found that highly insulting. As I remember the reaction of the school authorities was at first rather clumsy, of the "Read it kid, and shut up, you don't understand the subtilities of great art." variety. She persevered knowing when she had been racially slighted, despite what the board thought.
 
The NAACP now took note and they complained to the board - more effectively they made the situation public. After some heated debate the book was moved from the 'active' part of the reading list, those that could be part of any testing, to the optional list.
 
The problem here is that a book containing offensive term was still on the cirrculum. That she was given the option of inserting another book did nothing to solve this.
 
As I recall, Caissa may be more familiar with the ins and outs of this, the local Rabbi was asked to investigate and report on the situation. (At the time, and even yet, I felt sympathy for the poor man, inserted into a very touchie situation he really had no specific part in, even if fighting racism is a common responsibility) There was no need for my sympathy, he produced a  report that blew me away for it's reasonableness, intelligence and sensitivity.
 
The conclusion he reached was that racial slurs lie in the 'eye' of those slurred. If the student found the 'n' word insulting and was backed up by the NAACP, then it IS a racial epithet. The school board has no business mandating a student be subjected to what they see as an insult, or even limiting their educational options replacing it. The definition of the racial insult being up to the members of the race, not the school board nor anyone else for that matter.
 
notes:
 
1) There are now many instances of how communities have delt with charged epithets. The now world wide 'slut walks' being one, or the proactive actions of the LGBT community that has taken 'fag' and 'queer' from being insults to descriptions. It is worth remembering that no one has a problem with the 'Queer' part of QuAIA.
 
2) These thoughts came about from reading the thread about the CPCCA. I am not sure how the good Rabbi's conclusion apply in this case - it seems to me that this "committee" was formed as stats about anti-semitism were declining and is more about politics and PR than  substance.
"It is also a good rule not to put overmuch confidence in the observational results that are put forward until they are confirmed by theory." -- Arthur Stanley Eddington

Caissa

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Re: on racism ....
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2011, 10:40:03 AM »
I presume you are speaking of Shirley Brown. She was teaching at Lorne when I did my teaching practicum there in early '94.
 
I have no memory of the event in question having spent the early 70s in elementary school. Rabbi Eisenberg was rabbi in early 70s.

Croghan27

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Re: on racism ....
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2011, 11:21:45 AM »
I presume you are speaking of Shirley Brown. She was teaching at Lorne when I did my teaching practicum there in early '94.
 
I have no memory of the event in question having spent the early 70s in elementary school. Rabbi Eisenberg was rabbi in early 70s.

Yes, that was Shirley B. a thoroughly delightful person. Eisenberg may indeed have been the Rabbi's name - but that was long ago and far away.
 
 
"It is also a good rule not to put overmuch confidence in the observational results that are put forward until they are confirmed by theory." -- Arthur Stanley Eddington

 

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