Posted in Blogging, Bucks County, C-Haze, Children, Current Events, Discrimination, Education, Lenape Middle School, Matthew Curran, NAACP, News, Off The Wall, Parent, Parenting, Pennsylvania, Race, Racism

Racism, No Wai and George Bush Eats Cats

After reading some recent posts of mine, a friend forwarded the following story to me. She was curious- since I have not jumped on the bandwagon to yell racism at some higher profile stories- to see if this one would be any different.

An 8th grade math teacher, famous for the silly images he places on the homework worksheets he gives to his students, has found himself in a very uncomfortable situation.

While surfing the internet, looking for funny pictures to place on a homework assignment, teacher Matthew Curran came across what he believed at the time to be a perfect choice. The picture was one that would surely cause his students to laugh, and the caption, “NO WAI!” (internet slang for “No Way”) was even better. Mr. Curran had an inside joke with his class- whenever he would assign difficult math problems, and expect them to show their work, the students would always exclaim, “No way!”

The picture was of a black man wearing a straw hat. The man had his mouth wide open, displaying an almost completely toothless mouth.

After assigning the worksheet, a student turned in her seat to the only black person in the class, asking him if the picture depicted the child’s father.

The offended student went home and told his mother about the incident. Upon seeing the image, the mother immediately contacted the NAACP.

The NAACP released a statement:

“It brings into question whether all of our children are being provided a safe and fair environment in which to learn. What happened here is unacceptable, and we will take steps to make sure it never happens again,”

Mr. Curran has since apologized to both the school faculty and the student body. He claims he was doing a Google search on the terms “multiply and divide”, and this image was one of many that he came across. He thought the caption was funny, representing an inside joke with his students, and says he truly did not mean to offend anyone.

The child’s mother states she will not send her son back to school again until she feels it is safe for him.

I did a quick internet search, using Google, as Matthew Curran did, and I can verify that this image is in fact returned as a search result when typing in the term “multiply and divide”. Why this is the case is beyond me, but at least in this regard, the teacher is telling the truth.

Since this incident occured, many students, ex-students and co-workers of Mr. Curran’s have come forward in his defense. Most people agree that the image was a poor choice, but all are steadfast in their support of the teacher, stating that there is simply no way this man meant to offend anyone.

I do not believe we are looking at a case of overt (or even covert) racism. I think, at worst, sine he has already apologized, Mr. Curran may need to take a racial sensitivity class so that he can be more aware of what may be considered offensive to some students and their parents.

I take bigger issue with the student who asked the only black kid in the classroom if the man depicted on the worksheet was his father. The student should be given detention or something. Bang a few erasers together after school for a couple days.

Truly, I am angrier at the black student’s mother than I am at anyone else. This obviously was not a case of blatant racism. The math teacher simply made a mistake when choosing an image he believed would make his students laugh… and therefore make the classroom a little more fun. Hell, I wish my math teachers would have tried half as hard to keep me interested as this guy apparently does. The child’s mother, when deciding not to even try to work the issue out with the school, instead immediately contacting the NAACP, sent a message that is much louder than anything Mr. Curran inadvertantly did.

In bypassing the school, in refusing to allow her son to return to class, she in effect told everyone that she is less interested in working together towards a solution to this problem, and more interested in causing a scene. Getting her face on TV, and causing a ruckus.

15 minutes of fame and all that.

This, my friends, is not the way to racial equality. Actions like this breed animosity and resentment, and are not conducive to the open conversations we so desperately need to have.

It doesn’t mean the kid’s mom shouldn’t have been offended by the image on the worksheet. It doesn’t mean the worksheet was appropriate for the class. It simply means that in handling the situation the way she chose to, she may very well have created a racial divide that perhaps didn’t otherwise exist.

Had the student’s mother first reached out to the teacher, the principle, the superintendent of the school… had she tried to understand what Mr. Curran was trying to accomplish… perhaps this story could have been one of hope, communication and education.

Had she been willing to do her due dilligence, the mother could have learned that this particular image, while perhaps offensive, is part of a widely circulated collection of images, all captioned with various internet slang. Some of the pictures depict the black man while others depict animals with the words “owned”, “pwned”, “my wai”, “o hai”. I even located one of these stupid pictures with an image of George Bush eating a cat with a caption that reads “We can haz… stop teh madnez”. A quick Google search of these images shows that they’re all part of the “I Can Has Cheezburger” internet sensation- a blogsite that has gone viral since its 2007 inception. Click on the website, and one will find plenty of images to offend just about anyone, though I personally find the kittehs (kitties) adorable.

As a bi-racial woman, I have lived both worlds- black and white. I was raised by a white family, I was married to a black man, and I have two beautiful black daughters. It is through these life experiences that I have learned that not everyone who makes a bad judgment is a racist person. Some people, for varying reasons, are simply unaware of the pain their actions can cause. Most of these people truly mean no harm. Once their errors are pointed out to them, once they are educated about the stigmas certain words, images, jokes, etc. contain, they are more than happy to adjust.

When we handle situations like this one in battle mode right off the bat, without knowing or understanding why or how it occured to begin with, we lose our credibility. All too often, once our credibility is gone, so too, are many of the opportunities to open minds and educate each other that may have otherwise existed.

This is a sad story to me. Not because of a racist teacher, but because I realize that yet again, we’ve lost another chance.

Posted in Barack Obama, Blogging, C-Haze, Comments, Congress, Current Events, Democrats, Elections, Fox News, Healthcare Reform, House of Representatives, Joe the Plumber, Joe Wilson, News, Politics, President, Republicans, Sarah Palin

Representative Wilson Falsely Claims Obama Lied… Will You Stand With Joe?

Representative Joe Wilson from South Carolina sure did cause a stink Wednesday evening.

Wilson was the guy who famously hollered, “You lie!” in the middle of the President’s speech about health care reform to the Joint Sessions of Congress Wednesday night. Obama was in the process of addressing a pesky falsehood about the health care bill, one stating that should the legislation pass, illegal immigrants will be offered free, government-sponsored health insurance. Mr. Wilson decided he wasn’t going to let the facts deter him, even though this particular myth has already been debunked by just about everybody.

The current legislation, in each and every version that is being debated, states unequivocally that credits for coverage will not be extended to any persons who are not legally residing in this country. According to Politifact’s Bill Adair, the bill (H.R. 3200),  goes to great lengths to make sure that “illegal immigrants do not get the credits for the health care exchange that would allow them to get free care”.

How ironic that in the process of trying to tell the world that President Obama is a liar, Rep. Wilson was, himself, perpetuating one helluva whopper.

Ah, politics at its finest.

The only reason I stop short of calling Joe Wilson a liar is because I am unsure of his motives. Afterall, I have no way of knowing whether he really believes the nonsense he’s spewing. Nor do I know if he’s consciously spreading false claims, caring not the slightest about honesty and decency, all in an effort to simply keep the bill from passing.

I would argue, however, that it doesn’t matter.

The fact remains that one of South Carolina’s elected officials willfully and knowingly openly disrespected the President of the United States during a formal speech.

This was not some informal townhall gathering in local Mayberry, USA. The yahoos who lack the common decency to respect the President when he is speaking were not supposed to be in attendance Wednesday night. That the people who do not know how to temporarily hold their tongues and allow the Leader of the Free World to speak, uninterrupted, have joined the ranks as politicians- Congressional representatives, for God’s sake- is disheartening. I expect them to behave better than this, even as they oppose the subject that is being spoken of.

Representative Wilson certainly has bad manners.

Politicians, pundits, and talk show hosts alike have ample opportunity twenty four hours a day, seven days a week to express their displeasure on anything and everything. Whether that displeasure stems from the recent actions of the President, fellow politicians, celebrities or just some Joe The Plumber type guy they happened to run into one day, there are plenty of appropriate venues in which to express oneself.

This is the age of technology, after all.

Wilson could have taken his grievance public by putting thinking cap on and writing a blog. He could have written an open letter, printed in any number of news publications, to the President to voice his displeasure. He could have called just about anyone over at Fox News and been welcomed on their airwaves and into our living rooms with open arms. He could have called a press conference to discuss his issues. He could have put a scathing statement expressing his displeasure on his website. Or he could have sent out a mass e-mail telling the thousands of folks who are no doubt on his mailing list exactly how he feels.

Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, isn’t that what Twitter and Facebook are for? Those two websites have worked wonders for Sarah Palin, after all.

In fact,  not only could he have done all of these things, he could have done them all simultaneously.

Instead, our esteemed member of Congress, hailing from the great state of South Carolina, chose to make an ass out of himself on national television by rudely interrupting the President in a bizarre outburst that truly accomplished nothing more than making him look unhinged.

He has been forced to apologize- twice now- and while Democrats were predictably outraged by Wilson’s actions, even Republicans have soundly given him the ol’ smack upside the head for using such terrible judgment.

It doesn’t appear that his outburst had any sort of negative effect on the speech itself. In fact, early numbers show that after watching Obama speak Wednesday night, Americans are beginning to change their mind about the health care bill.

While health care support was inching up, the President’s approval ratings were doing the same- the President realized a double digit jump, even as Joe Wilson’s popularity plummeted.

In fact, Wilson’s likely opponent in 2010, Rob Miller, raised an astounding $350,000 for his campaign in less than 24 hours after Mr. Wilson’s unfortunate gaffe.

Stepping neatly into the role of victim, Joe Wilson is claiming that he is being punished for speaking out against the “critical issue of healthcare”. He is begging his supporters to send him money, and “Stand with Joe”.

How sad.

Representative Wilson is not in trouble for speaking his mind. He is in trouble for his appalling lack of manners and respect. He is in trouble for lacking the self-control to keep his temper in check while the President of the United States was speaking. Most importantly, it was his own actions, his own words, his own bad timing that got him into trouble. Had he kept his mouth shut for the short time Obama was speaking, it never would have been necessary for him to apologize, or answer calls for his censure to begin with.

Poor Joe.

Posted in Blogging, C-Haze, Comments, Spam

Ok Y’all, Let’s Play Nice!

Due to the nature of some recent attempted vitriol on my site, I feel it necessary to post the following reminder:

All reader comments posted on this site must be polite. While there is no expectation that the reader will agree with the content of this site, respectful dialogue is a must. 

Opposing views are encouraged, however, any user attempting to post hateful comments or personal attacks against this site’s author(s) will be immediately (and permanently) marked as spam.

Let’s all learn to play nice so that everyone can can continue to enjoy themselves.