June 03, 2006

Seattle schools remove definition of "cultural racism"

As noted here on Colossus by Felix, the Seattle School District had on its website a rather ... biased definition of "cultural racism." Now, however, it seems the district has removed it. Apparently the heat generated by this op-ed was getting to the Seattle educationists.

Here's the new version of the "Equity and Race Relations" page of the Seattle District. I was a bit confused by this line:

"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."

Did the Seattle District really "continue to hold onto" an "unsuccessful" concept like colorblindness? Hardly. It wholeheartedly rejected it, and it's rather easy to see that it did merely by noting their use here of the word "unsuccessful." "Unsuccessful" according to whom? Where's the science? The studies?

It's doubtful you'll find any. More likely it's just the convoluted "progressive" opinion of left-coast edu-babblers.

Posted by Hube at June 3, 2006 11:37 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Firstly, I don't think they are saying that HAVING future time orientation (fto) is racist. I think the definition was badly worded and as a result has been completely mis-read. What they are saying is that the assertion that someone is inferior because they DON'T HAVE such time orientation is racist.

A concrete example might be: native americans may be considered inferior because they don't think about the future in the same way as white americans do, i.e traditionally native americans are present time oriented rather than future time oriented. Time orientation affects our thoughts and behaviour, but is a cultural attribute, not a racial one as it is percieved.

Another example might a kid from an underpriveledged background (the majority of underpriveledged kids are from ethnic families) might be considered stupid/lazy/uninterested by his/her school teachers because he/she tends to live in the "now" and not think about the future. In reality though, the nature of the kids life, i.e severe financial restrictions means that thinking about the long term future (which requires an element of financial stabililty) seems at best difficult, at worst futile. So his/her thoughts and behaviour are present time oriented. Rather than understanding
that, a teacher could easily attribute this "attitude" to race rather than social background.

I think that's what the Seattle Public Schools board is trying to get at. It's not how WE think that is racist, it's what we assume about how OTHERS think that can amount to racism.

As it says in their statement, they will be "revising" the definition. I'm glad they are. I hope they can say exactley what they were saying before in the correct way, so hopefully people can't mis-read it.

Posted by: jake at June 4, 2006 02:10 PM