Friday, June 02, 2006

Mos' Def'

Following up on the post below, Seattle Public Schools has now posted an explanation for the disappearance of their controversial "Definitions of Racism":

In response to the numerous concerns voiced regarding definitions posted on the Equity & Race website, we have decided to revise our website in a way that will hopefully provide more context to readers around the work that Seattle Public Schools is doing to address institutional racism. The intended purpose of our work in the area of race and social justice is to bring communities together through open dialogue and honest reflection around what is meant by racism and the impact is has on our society and more specifically, our students. Our intention is not to put up additional barriers or develop an “us against them” mindset, nor is it to continue to hold onto unsuccessful concepts such as a melting pot or colorblind mentality. It is our hope that we can explore the work of leading scholars in the areas of race and social justice issues to help us understand the dynamics and realities of how racism permeate throughout our society and use their knowledge to help us create meaningful change. This difficult work is vital to the success of our students and families. Thank you for sharing your concerns.[Boldface mine.]

Can't wait for more context from leading scholars on race and social justice.

They weren't just catching flak from conservatives; in addition to the many, mostly conservative blogs that lined up to have a go at this pinata, at least one local liberal publication, the free press Seattle Weekly, was highly critical.

addendum: I just happened across this quote from the irrepressible, irreplacable Fred Reed:
This brings me to my belief that the intense racial discord that quietly underlies American life is largely the product of the policies of special privilege and lack of responsibility. As I’ve said before, when I was twenty I believed that policy should be determined without regard to race, creed, color, sex, or national origin. I was called the merest liberal and perhaps a dangerous communist. Now, forty years later, I believe that policy should be determined without regard to race, creed, color, sex, or national origin. This makes me a racist, a racist being one who does not believe that blacks should automatically get everything they want.
I don't suppose the folks at Seattle Public Schools are ready to consider this possible explanation for the so-called "unsuccessful" nature of assimilation and meritocracy, but they deserve to hear the truth as well as anyone, and seem to need it more.

3 comments:

C. Van Carter said...

That statement on racism is not unique to Seattle schools, it's part of the indoctrination those wanting to be teachers are subjected to in colleges of education. See here for example:

http://www.lehigh.edu/~incor/WorkingDefinitions.htm

So it's diversity/multicult boilerplate, borrowed from one of the books listed as sources on the bottom of that page.

Rick Darby said...

What an arrogant puke this Caprice D. Hollins of the Seattle Public Schools is. Even though, by her (?) own admission, "numerous concerns" were expressed, all she can do is spout jargon about providing more "context." But her little mind is sealed against the substantive issue involved. It's an article of faith with her that there is "institutional racism" in the schools.

Anyone who writes, as she does, "how racism permeate throughout our society" should be in remedial English classes, not employed by an educational system. But no doubt she'd parry that comment by claiming it's based on racism.

Dennis Dale said...

I was going to delve into some of the source material for the school's "defintions", but felt I had neither the time nor stomach.

You may have noticed, Carter, that the SPS's definition of racism is a word for word quote of that given at the Lehigh site you reference. This is all distressingly centralized, and I imagine unopposed. The SPS website gave what is a standard recitation of the collective thinking (for lack of a better word) on this subject from those who have, dubiously I believe, declared themselves scholars of race and ethnicity. That they characterize their area of expertise "race and social justice" indicates that it is less empirical than political.

The Seattle Weekly article cited gives a little more background. Faced with the common problem of chronically underperforming minorities, in 2004 the SPS declared itself institutionally racist; hence, the redoubling of anti-racist methods. So you are more correct than you might have imagined Rick.

I happened upon Marcuse's famous essay when reading about the overzealous efforts to combat racism by Europe's notorious Center for Equal Opportunities and opposition against Racism (CEEOR) here: http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/1084