Thursday, May 18, 2006

SPS to Get Whitey (especially the boys)

After reading the definition of racism on the web site of Seattle Public Schools (and watching Caprice Hollins' video on the Seattle Channel web site), I've had the image of Howard Stern's movie stuck in my head: "kill, kill, kill, da white people" .... An official, such as Caprice Hollins, Director of Equity and Race Relations for SPS, who invokes that image is probably not doing much that is constructive.

Caprice Hollins seems primarily interested in creating division. (Women Studies is particularly focused on the language of division and victimhood.) She is half white and half black, which on the surface would seem to allow her to unify people, bridge the divide (real or imagined), and help blacks and whites understand each other. But, it seems pretty evident that her background primarily left her angry at white people. As she describes, her white grandparents rejected her, which would leave me angry too! One can hardly blame her.

I have no problem with the actions and efforts of people in the black community to help themselves, heal wounds, and deal with hurt that results from a horrible history (slavery) and - let's face it - the racism they must still experience on occasion even today. If there is some anger and anti-white feeling is expressed among the black community, I can hardly blame them. Calling on more resources, and even set-aside spots in government contracts and hiring preferences, seem reasonable to me, given the history.

The problem, however, is that Caprice’s anger and divisiveness has no business being sponsored by government. And, her anger and hatred is palpable in the definitions of racism she provides on the Seattle Public School Districts web page. Definition after definition focuses on whites as brutish patriarchal oppressors of victims in various racial identity groups. Moreover, in her video, she describes the entire SPS as if it were some sort of conspiracy orchastrated by David Duke to create systemic racism against all these supposed victim groups. Yes, even the whites in ultra-liberal Seattle are somehow part of this grand conspiracy.

For example, she says:
The systematic subordination of members of targeted racial groups who have relatively little social power in the United States (Blacks, Latino/as, Native Americans, and Asians), by the members of the agent racial group who have relatively more social power (Whites).
Perhaps Caprice should visit the web site called iAbolish. This is the web site of an organization fighting contemporary slavery. Much of this slavery is in Africa, where black Africans enslave other black Africans. Why? Because some groups in Africa believe they are superior to other groups. I'm not sure where whitey figures into that, except that various organizations that presumably include at least some whites have helped to free some of these enslaved people.

Then, Caprice goes deeply into making racism charges against every feature of Western Culture she can identify. For example, racism can be seen in:
Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as “other”, different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers.
She started out pretty good, identifying unfair stereotyping as racism. But, then seems to loose control. "Future time orientation"? And, the thinly veiled swipe at capitalism and individual liberty is so obviouisly unrelated to racism that it hardly needs to be addressed.

The last place these sorts of bizarre and elastic concepts of racism should be taught is in the public school system. Imagine that, telling kids that “future time orientation” is a form of racism, but then trying to convince them that they should prepare for their future by attending school and applying themselves for future gain. A special office dedicated to meeting the educational needs of black students seems like a good idea to me; however, Caprice isn’t filling that need.

On top of that, black boys are suffering the most in public schools. The anti-male ideology Caprice learned in “Women Studies” doesn’t offer those kids much hope. She's got plenty of criticism for black men, as well. If you watch her video, you will hear her criticize black men for, supposedly, prefering lighter skin women like her. Looks to me like she should look in the mirror to find a "superiority complex."

Having such absurd definitions of racism provide a clear sign of poor judgment on the part of Caprice Hollins. She's plenty smart, but not very savy and she'll keep steppin' in it. I doubt she will be around long, even in a bureaucracy as screwed up as SPS. In the meantime, I hope school administrators who are less driven by anger and strange ideology contain the amount of damage she can do.

The path to success in education involves an obsession with "future time orientation." That's just so obvious that it's hard to imagine anybody taken seriously who would suggest otherwise. Even in Seattle.

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