Tuesday, October 5, 2010

another day in subversive teaching: privilege freedom to/from learning

I've talked already a few times with my kids about privilege. How they understand it, what it means to have it etc. The terms was basically foreign to them, other than having it easier when you are older sibling, or being rewarded in some way.

It was really hard to get through, and I really wonder what they thought after. They were surprised with some examples, and I tried to give them mostly in general or about me, not them. They finally came up with their own - that they are privileged to have a chance to learn in a small community school or to live in a comfortable house. We were getting somewhere. But race, size, gender or sexuality were much more difficult. I guess we got used more to talk about money?

I must say I didn't cross the line to use me us underprivileged in terms sexuality... I still have troubles with them. I used "a gay person" as an example. One day I will be completely open. I think it's not about being... ashamed or anything of that kind, but it's just private!

Some other time, with different students we talked about what is freedom and slavery. Their responses were very thoughtful. But, not surprisingly as there is very little said about it, they didn't know there is still slavery in the US. One kid mentioned sexual exploitation and child trafficking. Soon we will have a research project on modern slavery, they will learn more about the situation in today's world, and the ways to help.

There is one thing that is my serious pet peeve. It's the kids who are oh, such victims, because they are forced to go to school and they are "not even paid". As we say in Polish, blood washes all over me when I hear such snotty, spoiled, privileged talk. I told them of course they are paid pretty well with their clothing, roof, food etc. but then they said that their parents have the obligation... yeah, but not to buy iPods, dozens pairs of shoes, iPhones, gadgets, movies, computers.... these kids don't have any idea. When I said that the obligation was set to protect children's rights, they were all in "pfffft" mode. And the argument about small children in factories was almost ridiculed. I was really close to losing it... I just have to remind myself that these kind of attitudes do not change overnight. I just hope she wakes up

just breath... in... and out... day by day.

birthers are toxic.

I was quite not ready for the answer I received from one of my students when I asked why President Obama could be considered an "outsider" (I was comparing him to the Biblical Moses): "he is not one of us". When I asked to define "us", he said: "Americans", when I started to contradict that that's bullshit and he is an American and that it is all a lie, he started to get all confused talking about "I've read somewhere..." and so on. Of course what I meant was that he spent some years in Indonesia and had untypical upbringing, bridging different ethnicities and race lines, being able to have bot an insider, and an outsider point of view. (Other problem being that the kids knew hardly anything and I, the non-citizen, had to tell them the details. but somehow the "born not in the US" sticks.)
I guess after his yesterday's "joke" gesture making squinted eyes when we talked about ancient Asiatics, should have prepared me for today's bomb. Or his homophobic comments some weeks ago how all gays are disgusting because they shave legs, but lesbians are ok (I added "because they are hot"?).

I had a talk with him after the homophobic talk on sensitivity and homophobia and that I, as a lesbian, felt extremely uncomfortable with his comments. He took it in pretty well.
I also very strongly reacted to his "squinting" gesture, telling him that I wold not accept this kind of racist jokes. He was surprised that it was racist.

Today I also tried to push some point across, about not trusting all he reads/hears, to be critical, to not listen in to idiots. But I have no idea how well it would work.

The good thing? He's a 9th grader, and he's in a very good school with strong emphasis on social justice, human dignity and respect. He may still grow up to be a decent human being.

Another student of mine told me she wants to join "Purple Day" in remembrance of the gay youth suicide with our school. i haven't heard about it before... I told her how to organize it, where to begin and whom to contact.

So yeah, there are the terrifying examples of hurtful ignorance, but also very hopeful, sensitive and open minded youth. I hope the latter will grow.

Sanity! In government! About health and body size!

I know, crazy, right? I am glad I was linked to this short video.

Finally! Emphasis on health instead of size is the right way to go. I hope the "positive conversation" will begin soon. We need to finish with the obsession with obesity which leads to crazy fed diets, unhealthy risky food choices, pointing fingers and judging big people, stereotyping them as lazy with no will power or bring it all on themselves for some clandestine cheeseburger sessions.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Blackface? Again?

I can't believe how many times recently I stumbled upon a photo of a model in a blackface. What is going on? Do people seriously think it's ok? This one has the same model having two version of herself.

Well, to me it looks like White is fighting with Black. If it was supposed to be sexual ecstasy, then it didn't work well. 

I am not sure it was a good idea to google "blackface model". Calling the findings "disturbing" is quite an understatement. 
This one is not only racially offensive in making the model look like minstrel-era porcelain figurine, but also seems to be selling this girl out. 
I guess the point wasn't to look like a Black woman. Because she doesn't. She looks dirty. Unless for the photo makers Black=dirty.
It's obviously not just for women.

And these feathers are supposed to be... tribal? I guess that's what was on the mind of producers of the following photos, not only adding blackface but also "African" or "natural" scenery and clothes:

If they could they would stuffed bones through her nostrils. I am sure that would complete the picture.

And what the hell is this one about? I don't even try to phantom the photographer's/stylist's thoughts 

The fashion industry is extremely white. Women of color are hardly to be seen anywhere, in ads, on catwalks or billboards. Instead of making a use of the incredible variety of human species, in all the shapes and form of its beauty, we take skinny white women and paint them dark? Forgetting everything about the recent history and still pervasive racist attitudes? Are these supposed to be liberating? sending a "colorblind" message or other bs? Just stop. Show people in their natural beauty. And stop offending and abusing PoC and non-white cultures.