Summer Writing Part IV

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I am trying to keep my thoughts clear, my notes in order, and my goal untouched. I do seem to get distracted just a bit when I come across something I had not considered. Thus, in the process of getting side track with my research and writing, I aim to explore that avenue rather than stress over it. At times I feel like the image above. Regardless, I learn something new every time I read a scholarly article or a primary document that aids my work.

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Grafton Trail

I am going to vanish for a bit with Janette and 4LC (Abbey). We are headed North for a 40 mile backpacking trip. I hope to get more writing done when I return. There is nothing like reading, hiking, and not bathing for a week. We are going to traverse through parts of New Hampshire and Maine.

Abbey

Janette

I will write more extensively about our trip upon my return.

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A Response to Race

I found this article to be of interest. It garners a great deal of truth regarding race and society. Here are some noted responses towards people of color for presenting matters of race.

1) “You’re racist for making this an issue of race.”
2) “I don’t see race. I only see the human race.”
3) “Talking about issues in terms of ‘white people’ and ‘white privilege’ is reverse racism.”
4) “You [person of color] clearly don’t know what racism is. According to Webster’s Dictionary…”
5) “You [person of color] said something about white people doing racist things, so I demand you explain this to me right now.”
6) “But my [person of color] friend said it was OK if I did it [racially problematic thing].”
7) “Stop attacking me for having privileges just because I’m white. It’s racist and hurtful.”
8) “I’m sick of pretending that [people of color] need special rights and programs just because they aren’t white. We have problems too, you know.”
9) [Insert tear-filled expression of white privilege guilt or denial here.]

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What Drives People of Color from your School?

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The list below is one I received and discussed at a recent diversity seminar for independent schools. If you are a person of color, an ally, or one who contributes to the egregious errors listed here, I would love to further this conversation more.I also think something must be noted by the exclusion of people of color to the macro mission of the school. Further, a discussion on campuses should take into consideration the lack of intentional diversity goals. There are a number of schools that lack a diversity director. I have discussed a few of these matters on a previous post found here.

1. Exclude people of color from leadership positions.
2. Brag about how “color-blind” your schools is.
3. Never have more than one person of color on faculty and/or staff.
4. Allow only teachers of color to only mentor and discipline students of color.
5. Don’t allow people tell “their” stories.
6. Don’t develop a long-range plan to increase the diversity of your student body and faculty.
7. Don’t socialize with teachers of color.
8. When faculty and students of color gather together, stare at them and wonder aloud about what they’re up to.
9. Hire a person of color as diversity director and let him or her worry about changing the school culture. Offer him or her a little financial or staff support.
10. Hire a person of color as diversity director and let him or her focus on diversity events and nothing else.
11. Assume that the people of color on your campus are only interested in professional that focuses on diversity.
12. Appoint a person of color, who already has a full teaching and coaching load, to be the diversity director on the side. The younger the better.
13. Expect teachers of color to “fit in” to your community without considering their interests or needs.
14. Don’t examine your curriculum to consider the degree to which it includes and excludes the contributions of people of color to to history, literature, art, science, etc

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Summer Writing Part III

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I am spending a great deal of time exploring Du Bois’s editorial work as well as his writings on the American West. I am doing some archival study this AM. I am back to reading each line of WEB Du Bois’s editorial work of The Crisis. The Diversity Seminar for Independent Schools does not start until 3 PM. Above is what I am looking at now. UMASS Amherst archive on Du Bois’s work is great.

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Dinner Guests

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Wow! We are being wined and dined and treated like royalty here in Vermont at Julia and Randy Hesses’ Vermont home. Excellent colleagues and friends. We really like Vermont. This weekend constitutes our very first visit. This state lives up to the hype. We witnessed a great fireworks show too. Here is a pic of us with Randy.

Vermont

While having wine outside in preparation for dinner, I was sharing my list of top 12 dinner guest. So, here it is:

1. W.E.B. Du Bois
2. Malcolm X
3. Helen Keller
4. Harper Lee
5. Carson McCullers
6. Karl Marx
7. Clade McKay
8. Arthus Ashe
9. Richard Wright
10. Zora Neal Hurston
11. Joseph Conrad
12. Ralph Ellison

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Filed under 4th of July, About Carson, Friendship, Summer

Defining the Historical Past and Present

I have come to a number of conclusions during my tenure as a history teacher. Here are two:

1. Students struggle to define history. They assume it is everything that ever transpired in the past. I spend time moving them from that reference point of thinking to understanding that the historical past is predicated on an ascription and thus has normative value. Hence, it is not historical if it has no meaning; a person’s point of view and the complexity of their ascription has a great deal of weight on the value of the historical past. Further, if one cannot account for the past — it cannot be a historical past; it is just the past.

2. There is a such thing as the historical present; I like to think about history as the hitherto. Thus, the factors that have allowed complex variables to be analyzed shapes the now. But, ignoring those variables as though they are not relevant to one’s current plight is a mistake. Arthur Danto’s 1965 book, Analytical Philosophy of History, argues that “historical inquiry cannot be conceived as trying to reconstruct the past along the lines of a ‘ideal chronicler.'” Hence, this chronicler knows when things occur as they occur, and thus historians cannot constructs this pattern because they construct history in the present using narrative sentences. According to Danto, it is a sentence that describes one event by referring to later events. This type of complexity found in the realm of historiography escapes students. Because students struggle with this part, they fail to grasp the macro approach of understanding the more analytical frameworks of history (Source: “The Nonfixity of the Historical Past by David Weberman). Now, this book by Danto was published well before the age of social media. In the 21st century, we are all chroniclers of history by recording the present (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). Good students will be able to grasp why occurrences in the present change and are linked to the historical past, as noted in my first point. Here is a great way to bring social media into the classroom. I have yet to do this, but the thought of creating a public Facebook page is under review. I do have colleagues that tweet and use twitter in their class.

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(Diagram Source, Dr. Fred Jewel, Professor Emeritus, Harding University)

The above points are not generational. They have been true for countless generations of people who believe the historical past is irrelevant to their lives. They struggle to move beyond themselves in the present. Each generation goes through this predicament. Black students do not see why past racial events are of great significance to their current struggles. Women are unconcerned with the political ramifications of matters such as contraceptives,voting, education, or power to their lives. Both blacks and women are slow to ask why are there so few of me on my campus? So, it is my job and the job of those who see the irony of the aforementioned points to tell young students why analyzing the past is paramount towards their current plight and future conditions.

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