Tag Archives: class

Race in the Classroom

OK…This guy was a rookie. What he should have said was all white people in America benefit from racism.

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Discussing race in the classroom: ‘Are all white people racist’?

A high school teacher in Norman, Okla. is under fire for this assertion. But how should the conversation about race relations be framed? 

One high school teacher’s bold premise – that “all white people are racist, period” – is reigniting discussion about how difficult it is to talk about race in school classrooms.

One offended student in the philosophy elective at Norman North High School in Oklahoma recorded the remark, part of a lecture about how to heal racial divides, on her cellphone last week. The student, who wished to remain anonymous, told the local NBC-affiliate KFOR that she felt the teacher was encouraging the class “to pick on people for being white.”

The controversy comes as the country is confronted with questions of institutional racism in its educational systems and police departments, police misconduct against young black men, and racial inequality. The teacher, James Coursey, appeared to try to draw his classroom into this national conversation. Some education experts applaud Mr. Coursey and others’ efforts to engage students in what can be a challenging dialogue. But they also say he could have just worded his argument differently.

“I think it was a rookie error in teaching about race,” Paul Ketchum, a professor of liberal studies at the nearby University of Oklahoma, told The Norman Transcript. “You go for the big term when the a less loaded term would be better to make it a teachable moment.”

In a statement, Joe Siano, the superintendent of the school district, agreed that the discussion could have been handled better but emphasized the subject should still be a conversation in classrooms.

“Racism is an important topic that we discuss in our schools,” said Dr. Siano. “While discussing a variety of philosophical perspectives on culture, race and ethics, a teacher was attempting to convey to students in an elective philosophy course a perspective that had been shared at a university lecture he had attended.”

In the video the student first posted to social media, Coursey starts the lecture by showing a YouTube clip about imperialism. In the video, a man uses white-out on a globe to illustrate how European influence spread across the world, as The Washington Post reported.

Coursey is heard in the recording rhetorically ask: “Am I racist? And I say yeah. I don’t want to be. It’s not like I choose to be racist, but do I do things because of the way I was raised.”

“To be white is to be racist, period,” he says.

The offended student, who said half of her family is white and half Hispanic, told KFOR along with her father they felt the teacher encouraged the “demonization” of one race over others.

More than 100 student demonstrators stood behind Coursey, organizing a walkout Tuesday. One student said the remark was taken out of context.

“We believe it is important to have serious and thoughtful discussion about institutional racism in order to change the history and promote inclusivity,” he said, according to The Norman Times.

Other educators across the country, from preschool teachers to professors, have stumbled or faced criticism about how they have tried to discuss racism. A professor at the University of Kansas was suspended last year for using the N-word in a discussion she led about instances of racism on college campuses. Some of the nine graduate students in the class filed discrimination complaints with the university against the professor, Andrea Quenette. The university dismissed the complaints, but chose not to renewMs. Quenette’s employment following the conclusion of the spring 2017 semester, according the Lawrence Journal-World.

The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., drew national media attention in 2014 by offering a “White Privilege Seminar.” Iris Outlaw, the professor of the seminar, said at the time that its purpose is to explore white privilege and other systems of oppression to help students grow. But some conservatives said it was a liberal perspective gone too far.

“This isn’t education, it’s indoctrination,” Notre Dame student and conservative campus activist Mark Gianfalla told the Daily Caller. “The problem I see with this course is that it is teaching a flawed and inherently racist sociological theory as fact.”… Not surprising, from a conservative racist. Read the rest here…


Posted by on October 21, 2016 in The Definition of Racism, The Post-Racial Life


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Restating the Obvious – Why the 1% Are White

In case anyone missed the class…


Posted by on March 20, 2016 in The New Jim Crow


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The New Jim Crow – Racism or Class?

An interesting view from Author Robert D. Putnam on inequalities in American society and the economy. Putnam believes that racism isn’t the major impediment to economic mobility in the country anymore – class is. And as far as that goes he may be correct. However, in weighing whether racism is an issue – a lot depends on just what you define as “racism”. The conservative view of that is “we aren’t hanging you from trees and burning down your homes anymore – so there is no racism”. Of course to anyone else with an IQ above freezing water – racism is a lot more nuanced that just physical acts of depravity. I mean – just because you aren’t shooting me – doesn’t mean you aren’t trying to kill me with a knife.

Robert Putnam: Class Now Trumps Race as the Great Divide in America

Robert D. Putnam, author of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, issued a strong warning to anti-poverty advocates at a forum on social connectedness at the Aspen Ideas Festival Saturday, urging the audience to get beyond talking about poverty and race and start thinking about social mobility and class instead.

“Those two conceptual moves, framing it as poverty and thinking about it as a matter of race, have a very deep history… and I think both politically and analytically that’s an almost fatally flawed framework,” said Putnam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, in response to remarks from co-panelists Anne Mosle, vice president of policy at the Aspen Institute, and Mario Small, chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago.

“You say poverty to most ordinary Americans, most ordinary voters, they think black ghettos,” he continued, whereas over the last couple of generations “class, not race is the dominant — and becoming more dominant — dimension of difficulty here.”

“Relatively speaking, racial differences controlling for class are decreasing while class differences controlling for race are increasing in America,” he said. “Non-white folks with a college education are looking more and more like white folks with a college education and white folks who haven’t gotten beyond high school are looking more and more like nonwhite folks who haven’t finished high school.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in The New Jim Crow


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