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Sat Aug 20, 2022, 12:28 PM

I Taught My 4th Grade Class About White Privilege And Their Response Was Eye-Opening

A must-read article by Justin Mazzola from the Huffington Post:

[link:https://www.huffpost.com/entry/teach-white-privilege-fourth-grade-class_n_62fbac44e4b077bb77a62756|

snip:

"Our nation’s best chance at progress is for professional teachers to shed light on its complicated past while empowering students to formulate their own fact-based opinions ― and politicians shouldn’t be standing in the way. Teaching our youth all of America’s triumphs and failures will empower them as adults to strive toward a more perfect union. A few of those kids may even end up with their photos alongside our past presidents. And if they ascend to leadership, they’ll be far more prepared than their predecessors to ensure our country is working for everyone."

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Arrow 27 replies Author Time Post
Reply I Taught My 4th Grade Class About White Privilege And Their Response Was Eye-Opening (Original post)
nature-lover Aug 2022 OP
Hermit-The-Prog Aug 2022 #1
dchill Aug 2022 #11
Hermit-The-Prog Aug 2022 #19
erronis Aug 2022 #14
Karadeniz Aug 2022 #2
czarjak Aug 2022 #23
erronis Aug 2022 #3
NullTuples Aug 2022 #5
Tommymac Aug 2022 #10
czarjak Aug 2022 #24
crickets Aug 2022 #4
Lonestarblue Aug 2022 #6
nature-lover Aug 2022 #25
jmbar2 Aug 2022 #7
erronis Aug 2022 #20
jmbar2 Aug 2022 #21
fishwax Aug 2022 #26
jmbar2 Aug 2022 #27
kimbutgar Aug 2022 #8
Evolve Dammit Aug 2022 #13
Mozeltov Cocktail Aug 2022 #9
Evolve Dammit Aug 2022 #12
erronis Aug 2022 #16
Evolve Dammit Aug 2022 #17
burrowowl Aug 2022 #15
Initech Aug 2022 #18
Jim__ Aug 2022 #22

Response to nature-lover (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 12:41 PM

1. Politicians should get out of the way of teachers.

Students learned about the Greensboro Four, Bloody Sunday and the Birmingham Children’s March during our study of the civil rights movement. They empathized with Ruby Bridges and drew inspiration from the Little Rock Nine. They compared old photos of segregated Black and white schools, wondering how anyone could claim they were “separate, but equal.” Students even tackled the Louisiana literacy test, which was given to would-be Black voters in the 1960s. Every student failed. The ensuing conversation led them to draw parallels between past and present, comparing literacy tests and poll taxes to current voter-ID laws and the disenfranchisement of people convicted of felonies in certain states.

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Response to Hermit-The-Prog (Reply #1)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 03:24 PM

11. You have just perfectly described why politicians...

...Republican politicians, will never get out of the way of teachers.

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Response to dchill (Reply #11)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 03:55 PM

19. It's a very good article.

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Response to Hermit-The-Prog (Reply #1)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 03:33 PM

14. This makes me think of an adage: Managers are there to help the staff get the work done.

Many companies think that managers are little lords in their fiefdoms rather than being facilitators.

Same with politicians. The want to control rather than help.

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Response to nature-lover (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 01:12 PM

2. But every Christian knows Jesus said, "You shall know the truth.... unless it's uncomfortable."

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Response to Karadeniz (Reply #2)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 10:58 PM

23. The truth will set you free. (First, it will piss you off) The rubes never learn.

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Response to nature-lover (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 01:13 PM

3. Another good snippet:

I was one of those kids, a Xennial growing up lower-middle class in a small New Hampshire city with my parents and younger brother. In 1990, the state was 98% white. In my high school graduating class of 264, only three students were nonwhite. Needless to say, I was not exposed to meaningful discussions about race. Instead, my family was indoctrinated by Rush Limbaugh, whose radio show provided a soundtrack for our home. My Republican father criticized affirmative action because it gave minority groups an unfair advantage in a country where, he claimed, everyone has an equal opportunity “as long as they work hard.” My mother, a French immigrant, adopted his views by osmosis. I did too, and held on to them throughout my 20s, until one professor changed everything.

While obtaining my master’s degree in education in 2009, I was required to take a course called “Language, Power and Democracy.” The monthlong class explored white privilege and America’s ongoing racial divide, and was taught mostly through documentaries and discussions. Redlining and Reconstruction were just some of the topics covered. My belief that class outweighed race in determining opportunities began to erode. After a month of evidence-based lectures and thoughtful conversations with my racially diverse classmates, I began to see America’s institutional racism.

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Response to erronis (Reply #3)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 01:54 PM

5. Indeed. Class outweighing race is such a palatable ruse when class is just a proxy for race.

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Response to erronis (Reply #3)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 03:23 PM

10. Great post. Thank You.

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Response to erronis (Reply #3)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 11:07 PM

24. You should have been raised by a raging racist in The Hub City during the 50's 60's.

Okies from Tulsa had stories with pictures I still have.

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Response to nature-lover (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 01:27 PM

4. The reasons for the RW war on public education are obvious, aren't they? K&R

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Response to nature-lover (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 01:59 PM

6. Excellent article. Thank you for posting.

This former teacher clearly explains what education should be about. I would like to see this writer, as an educator and a journalist, develop a media literacy course that could be taught as early as 4th or 5th grade. There would be much value in having students compare events or news through the lens of different media outlets and helping them learn how perceptions of real events can be swayed by the way information about them is presented.. The role of the cable outlets with their opinion hosts and how those hosts affect national opinion would also help develop critical thinking skills. I don’t know of any school that has a complete course on media literacy, especially in middle school where kids would really benefit.

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Response to Lonestarblue (Reply #6)

Sun Aug 21, 2022, 07:58 AM

25. A media literacy class at this grade level is an excellent idea.

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Response to nature-lover (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 02:01 PM

7. OMG - downloaded a PDF of the Louisiana literacy test from 1963

Astonishingly cruel. Another disqualifier - if you have had an "illegitimate birth" in the past 5 years!

https://www.crmvet.org/info/la-littest2.pdf


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Response to jmbar2 (Reply #7)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 04:01 PM

20. Wow. Even a rich white landed gentry would find someone else to fill this in!

Appendix B is labeled "COMPLIMENTARY SAMPLE APPLICATION".

How is this even vaguely "complimentary"? Did they misspell? In Louisiana? Bless their little harts.

There are some good questions asked in the civics section. I may miss a few of them. I also think that the attack by the (r)epuglicon party against democracy has raised most American's awareness of what our laws and rules are. This may bite the fat-asses hard, once again.

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Response to erronis (Reply #20)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 04:16 PM

21. The questions weren't all that bad- I would have missed a couple

But the instructions for taking the test were likely purposefully designed to baffle.

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Response to jmbar2 (Reply #7)

Sun Aug 21, 2022, 09:05 AM

26. that's actually the Louisiana citizenship test ... here's the literacy test

which was designed to make it possible for scorers to find reason to fail any voter that they considered undesirable: https://sharetngov.tnsosfiles.com/tsla/exhibits/aale/pdfs/Voter%20Test%20LA.pdf

Here's #27: "Write right from the left to the right as you see it spelled here."

The lack of quotation marks around whatever word or words one is supposed to spell makes this question ambiguous. One could argue that the word/phrase one is expected to write is "right" or "right from the left to the right" or "it." So even if a person of color were to answer every single question correctly in the ten minutes allotted, the registrar could simply claim that whichever of those three they chose for #27 was wrong, and thus fail them on the test.

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Response to fishwax (Reply #26)

Sun Aug 21, 2022, 10:50 AM

27. That's even worse than I thought

That is so deeply evil that educated folks would put their minds to such sly schemes to harm others. And who ever heard of a state citizenship test?!

I guess it puts today's mess in perspective. It COULD be worse.

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Response to nature-lover (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 02:02 PM

8. I read this and thought I know he's not in a southern state

Then I read he’s in San Francisco. I also substitute teaching SF and did a unit with 4th graders about how the white people came and ran off and killed the natives while taking over California. This is was in a California state text book! Awhile I was doing this unit I couldn’t help think Abbott and Desatan’s heads would explode while I was teaching this lesson!

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Response to kimbutgar (Reply #8)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 03:32 PM

13. Who would ever think that telling students the truth could be vilified or even discouraged??

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Response to nature-lover (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 02:22 PM

9. Thank you for posting this...

There have been several uplifting posts on DU today and it feels pretty good.

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Response to nature-lover (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 03:30 PM

12. It is imperative if we are ever going to evolve. When I was a young lad, my brother had three

college buddies that I got to hang out with. One was from Iran, one from Iraq and one from Nigeria. We had great fun and I grew up viewing everyone as basically the same. How I wish others could have had that experience. Real Christians know and believe that we are all God's children. So FCS, start acting like it, or take that cross off and stop the charade. No offense to real Christians who practice what they preach, or just live according to His teachings. The faux ones are going to have a tough time in the afterlife.

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Response to Evolve Dammit (Reply #12)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 03:37 PM

16. That's a nice statement. If people aren't exposed to different cultures, they'll be afraid.

Sort of how most of us are afraid to try a new cuisine - and then when we do --- Wowza!

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Response to erronis (Reply #16)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 03:42 PM

17. I just thought that was how the world worked, and still do. Not giving up on it. People are

basically the same and the demonization of others really astounds and angers me.

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Response to nature-lover (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 03:35 PM

15. Thanks for post and link!

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Response to nature-lover (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 03:54 PM

18. Anyone who attempts to police what children learn in the classroom is not our friend.

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Response to nature-lover (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2022, 06:46 PM

22. Interesting proposition. Let's examine it just a bit.

There are any number of places within this article to raise questions; but to keep it simple, let's look at one.

From the cited article:

Each October, my students reviewed what they learned in third grade about Christopher Columbus. Then I would read “Encounter” to provide them with a different point of view. The children’s book is told through the eyes of a young Taino boy recounting the Italian explorer’s arrival, and the ensuing enslavement and brutality he unleashed on the native people. My students were simultaneously fascinated and shocked, leading most to write essays about why Columbus Day should no longer be celebrated.


"Encounter" is a book written by Jane Yolen. An excerpt from her wikipedia entry:

Jane Hyatt Yolen was born on February 11, 1939, at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan. She is the first child of Isabell Berlin Yolen, a psychiatric social worker who became a full-time mother and homemaker upon Yolen's birth, and Will Hyatt Yolen, a journalist who wrote columns at the time for New York newspapers,[6] and whose family emigrated from the Ukraine to the United States.[1] Isabell also did volunteer work, and wrote short stories in her spare time. However, she was not able to sell them. Because the Hyatts, the family of Yolen's grandmother, Mina Hyatt Yolen, only had girls, a number of the children of Yolen's generation were given their last name as a middle name in order to perpetuate it.[6]


So, Jane Yolen wrote a book told through the eyes of a young Taino boy? Fascinating. I wonder where she acquired the eyes of a young Taino boy.

From the wikipedia article on Taino:

Various scholars have addressed the question of who were the native inhabitants of the Caribbean islands to which Columbus voyaged in 1492. The assumption that European accounts can be read as objective evidence of a native Caribbean social reality is unjustified.[8] The people who inhabited most of the Greater Antilles when Europeans arrived in the New World have been denominated as Taínos, a term coined by Constantine Samuel Rafinesque in 1836.[2] Taíno is not a universally accepted denomination—it was not the name this people called themselves originally, and there is still uncertainty about their attributes and the boundaries of the territory they occupied.[9]

The term nitaino or nitayno, from which "Taíno" derived, referred to an elite social class, not to an ethnic group. No 16th-century Spanish documents use this word to refer to the tribal affiliation or ethnicity of the natives of the Greater Antilles. The word tayno or taíno, with the meaning "good" or "prudent", was mentioned twice in an account of Columbus's second voyage by his physician, Diego Álvarez Chanca, while in Guadeloupe. José R. Oliver writes that the natives of Boriquén, who had been captured by the Caribs of Guadeloupe, and who wanted to escape on Spanish ships to return home to Puerto Rico, used the term to indicate that they were the "good men", as opposed to the Caribs.[2]

Contrarily, according to Peter Hulme, most translators appear to agree that the word taino was used by Columbus's sailors, not by the islanders who greeted them, although there is room for interpretation. The sailors may have been saying the only word they knew in a native Caribbean tongue, or perhaps they were indicating to the "commoners" on the shore that they were taíno, i.e., important people, from elsewhere and thus entitled to deference. If taíno was being used here to denote ethnicity, then it was used by the Spanish sailors to indicate that they were "not Carib", and gives no evidence of self-identification by the native people.[9]

According to José Barreiro, a direct translation of the word "Taíno" signified "men of the good".[10] The Taíno people, or Taíno culture, has been classified by some authorities as belonging to the Arawak. Their language is considered to have belonged to the Arawak language family, the languages of which were historically present throughout the Caribbean, and much of Central and South America.


So after reading the Taino account of Columbus' voyage to the New World, most of the students wrote essays about why Columbus Day should no longer be celebrated? Eye-opening.

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