“On Saturday, February 18, 2012, the Frederick Douglass Foundation of New York presented the first Spirit of Freedom award to Jada Williams, a 13-year old city of Rochester student. Miss Williams wrote an essay on her impressions of Frederick Douglass’ first autobiography the Narrative of the Life. This was part of an essay contest, but her essay was never entered. It offended her teachers so much that, after harassment from teachers and school administrators at School #3, Miss Williams was forced to leave the school.
We at the Frederick Douglass Foundation honored her because her essay actually demonstrates that she understood the autobiography, even though it might seem a bit esoteric to most 13-year olds. In her essay, she quotes part of the scene where Douglass’ slave master catches his wife teaching then slave Frederick to read. During a speech about how he would be useless as a slave if he were able to read, Mr. Auld, the slave master, castigated his wife.
Miss Williams quoted Douglass quoting Mr. Auld: “If you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there will be no keeping him. It will forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master.”
Miss Williams personalized this to her own situation. She reflected on how the “white teachers” do not have enough control of the classroom to successfully teach the minority students in Rochester. While she herself is more literate than most, due to her own perseverance and diligence, she sees the fact that so many of the other “so-called ‘unteachable’” students aren’t learning to read as a form of modern-day slavery. Their illiteracy holds them back in society.
Her call to action was then in her summary: “A grand price was paid in order for us to be where we are today; but in my mind we should be a lot further, so again I encourage the white teachers to instruct and I encourage my people to not just be a student, but become a learner.”
This offended her English teacher so much that the teacher copied the essay for other teachers and for the Principal. After that, Miss Williams’ mother and father started receiving phone calls from numerous teachers, all claiming that their daughter is “angry.” Miss Williams, mostly a straight-A student, started receiving very low grades, and she was kicked out of class for laughing and threatened with in-school suspension.
There were several meetings with teachers and administrators, but all failed to answer Miss Williams’ mother’s questions. The teachers refused to show her the tests and work that she had supposedly performed so poorly on. Instead, the teachers and administrators branded her a problem.
Unable to take anymore of the persecution, they pulled her from School #3. Wanting to try another school, they were quickly informed that that school was filled and told to try “this school.” During her first day at this new school, she witnessed four fights, and other students asked her if she was put here because she fights too much.
Long story short, they took an exceptional student, with the radical idea that kids should learn to read, and put her in a school of throwaway students who are even more unmanageable than the average student in her previous school. To protect their daughter, her parents have had to remove her from school, and her mother has had to quit her job so she can take care of Miss Williams.
To date, the administrators of School #3 have refused to release her records, even though she no longer attends the school, and they have repeatedly given her mother the run around. We at the Frederick Douglass Foundation have contacted school administrators in regards to this situation and have also been told to hit the pavement.
That’s what we intend to do. If this school will sacrifice the welfare of an above-average student whose essay, that they asked her to write, they find offensive, we intend to make everyone aware of this monstrous injustice. The school has a job, and it is not doing it. We would like as many folks as possible to call the Principal of School #3 and complain about this injustice. Her name is Miss Connie Wehner, and she can be reached at (585) 454-3525. This treatment of Jada Williams cannot stand.
Thanks for this extra February day occasionally. I needed it to help procrastinate writing this chapter.
I shall celebrate by doing ONE EXTRA anti-racist and/or seditious thing.
I’ll decide in the car.
Yo, I know you think you just blew my mind with your innovative “hey, did all those victims of racism just try being equal?” approach, but seriously, you are a fucking idiot.
Maruf Hotak, commenting about the recent protests in Afghanistan in reaction to its largest U.S. base burning Qur’ans and referring to an episode in Helmand Province when American Marines urinated on the dead bodies of men they described as insurgents and to a recent erroneous airstrike on civilians in Kapisa Province that killed eight young Afghans.
From Glenn Greenwald: The causes of the protests in Afghanistan:
The U.S. has violently occupied their country for more than a decade. It has, as Gen. Stanley McChrystal himself explained, killed what he called an “amazing number” of innocent Afghans in checkpoint shootings. It has repeatedly — as in, over and over — killed young Afghan children in air strikes. It continues to imprison their citizens for years at Bagram and other American bases without charges of any kind and with credible reports of torture and other serious abuses. Soldiers deliberately shot Afghan civilians for fun and urinated on their corpses and displayed them as trophies.
Meanwhile, the protesters themselves continue to be shot, although most American media accounts favor sentences like these which whitewash who is doing the killing: “running clashes with the police that claimed the lives of another five Afghan protesters” and “in Nangarhar Province, two Afghans protesting the Koran burning were shot to death outside an American base in Khogyani District” and “protesters angry over the burning of Korans at the largest American base in Afghanistan this week took to the streets in demonstrations in a half-dozen provinces on Wednesday that left at least seven dead and many more injured.” Left at least seven dead: as As’ad AbuKhalil observed, “notice that there is no killer in the phrasing.”
It’s comforting to believe that these violent protests and the obviously intense anti-American rage driving them is primarily about anger over the inadvertent burning of some religious books: that way, we can dismiss the rage as primitive and irrational and see the American targets as victims. But the Afghans themselves are making clear that this latest episode is but the trigger for — the latest symbol of — a pile of long-standing, underlying grievances about a decade-old, extremely violent foreign military presence in their country. It’s much more difficult to dismiss those grievances as the by-product of primitive religious fanaticism, so — as usual — they just get ignored.
- *watching a program about Outer Space with Mijo*
- Mijo: I want to be a restaurant.
- Me: Do what now?
- Mijo: I want to be a restaurant. In the Universe.
- Me: *kinda confused but still absolutely fucking delighted at the implications* You want to be a restaurant...in the Universe? Like...at the End of the Universe??
- Mijo: Okay. On Saturn.
- Me: *finally getting it* Ohhhh...you want to be an ASTRONAUT on Saturn?
- Mijo: Okay.
- Me: Excellent.
Girl Scout troop leader Kim Douglas • Discussing a recent situation her 10-year-old daughter faced when going door-to-door to sell cookies. Douglas’ daughter, by the way, didn’t know what abortion was. “It left my daughter very shocked, confused,” Douglas said. “She said, ‘Mommy, something creepy happened to me.’” By the way: The Girl Scouts, which have faced much culture war heat of late (including this guy we posted about Monday), take no position on abortion or contraception, so the woman was incorrect. (via shortformblog)
I hate the world, I really do. Politicians with their “small amount of web-based research” peddle nonsense like this and people eat it up without ever fact checking it. It’s ridiculous how we let them get away with outright lying and there’s never any consequences. Now we have a country full of people who cannot think critically for themselves :/
I bought 7 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies today. I regret nothing.
People hate the Girl Scouts because of the smart, capable, compassionate women it strives to create. Just burns ‘em up.
Words Written: 2713!
These words represent a not-terrible introduction to the chapter and some still good-seeming things about moral panics and the imposition of sentiment on Afrocaraqueñas.
I am very proud of myself.
Words Written: 0
But you sorta expected that, didn’t you, considering the tone of the previous post, its proximity to Another Reason To Not Get Work Done, and who I am as a person.
In My Defense: It was Fat Tuesday. Do you know how unseasonably warm it’s been here in Boston this winter? Also, I did my laundry, and went outside, and ran some errands, and considered seriously what to deny myself this Lenten season, and celebrated a bit, and got a gorgeous new cake plate.
I have a right to complain when I go to Wendy’s and they get my order wrong.
I’m entitled to my opinion when people ask me whether or not I think Beyonce uses lace fronts or Malaysian weave.
I am not complaining or simply stating my opinion when talking the racism.
I am talking about my rights as a human to not be persecuted and exploited.
These are my feelings.
Cute tops purchased: 3
Fun-times had: 750
Words Written: 0
Apparently agreeing with her sentiment, justices routinely “ignored” charges against Black female badgers. Magistrates often adopted the attitude that white men who would patronize Black prostitutes got what they deserved.” —
Kali N. Gross. (2006) Colored Amazons: Crime, Violence, and Black Women in the City of Brotherly Love, 1880-1910. Duke University Press, 72.
THIS IS THE GREATEST THING I HAVE EVER HEARD.
Also: Prof. Gross’ book is just excellent.
Of course, I didn’t get home ‘til after midnight last night.
And am fin ta go shopping with a friend of mine this morning.
But like any good resolution, those first delusion moments after you make a promise you mostly don’t intend to keep are wonderful in their ability to help you feel very mature and pretend that you can really do any task you set forth for yourself despite who you fundamentally are as a person.
Also, Happy President’s Day, guise.
And therein lies the rub with what’s Left in the academy. A willed failure of the imagination when it comes to Black feminist theorizing. I want to throw my shoe at everyone who dismisses ‘identity politics’ (without defining it, much less understanding it), but I don’t have enough shoes.