How brain-dead and ethically inert does a teacher have to be to give two black students an assignment to pick cotton? The mind boggles, but this really happened, and at the cringingly politically correctly-named Sacajawea Middle School in Spokane Washington no less.
ABC News tells us that Emzayia and Zyeshauwne Feazell reported to their mother that their social studies teacher handed out cotton and told them and other students to “pick it” in a race to see who could do so it the fastest. The assignment was supposed to be a reminder that blacks were once enslaved and forced to pick cotton on Southern plantations, because nobody else is reminding black children of that fact daily and perhaps hourly.
“For you to pass out cotton and to my children [and tell them] that essentially, they’re going to pick the cotton clean and it’s a race of who can get it clean first, that was extremely bothersome to me and my children. Under no circumstance … do they need to be taught what it’s like to be a slave or what it’s like to be Black.”
Nor is that a valid topic for study, except in a race-obsessed culture where making certain that blacks are resentful and…wait. Right. I wasn’t thinking…
I hope you remember Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP branch president who falsely claimed to be black, double-talked and lied about her racial origins, and was defended by the “race is just a social construct” crowd on the left, as part of the same ideological fantasy that holds that a man can be a woman by just deciding that she is one. Ethics Alarms discussed her strange story here, here, and here.
Following her 15 minutes of fame, Rachel was somehow unable to manage a book contract or a speaking tour, perhaps because she is a walking, talking Achilles heel for several beloved progressive myths, Now she’s jobless and living on food stamps, and facing foreclosure and expects to be evicted next month.
“There’s no protected class for me,” she told The Guardian. “I’m this generic, ambiguous scapegoat for white people to call me a race traitor and take out their hostility on. And I’m a target for anger and pain about white people from the black community. It’s like I am the worst of all these worlds…I do think a more complex label would be helpful, but we don’t really have that vocabulary. I feel like the idea of being trans-black would be much more accurate than ‘I’m white.’ Because you know, I’m not white.”
Of course, she is.
Dolezal says she’s been rejected for over 100 jobs. She has had offers on the freak show circuit, in porn and reality TV. But Dolezal is not uneducated or dumb. Surely there are many jobs that she could perform, and well.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day is this…
Signature Significance: The concept is the creation of baseball statistics genius Bill James, who applied it to baseball performance. Signature significance posits that a single act can be so remarkable that it has predictive and analytical value, and should not be dismissed as statistically insignificant. Thus, in James’ example, certain outstanding pitching performances can prove that the pitcher involved is an outstanding one, because average pitchers literally never reach such levels of excellence, even as a one-time fluke. Ethics Alarms employs the term to describe an extreme ethical or unethical act that similarly reveals the true character of the individual responsible for the conduct, and that can be reliably and fairly used to predict future conduct and trustworthiness.
My immediate assumption about now-ex NAACP executive Rachel Dolezal’s charade as a black woman her conduct was signature significance, that anyone who would construct and benefit from such an audacious deception was unreliable, untrustworthy, and a likely sociopath. My posts never got into this issue, in part because I was waiting for a unanimous consensus that the woman was lying–sadly, a lot of stubborn progressives, civil rights advocates, celebrities and culture warriors either ducked the issue or, to their eternal discredit, denied that she couldn’t be black is she said she was. I was waiting for the “she just made a mistake” arguments, and the “anyone can get confused about what race they are” rationalization by playing the signature significance card, and never got to play it.
When I wrote about Rachel Dolezal’s strange and provocative racial charade as my first post of the day, I had not read any other commentary on the subject. I was surprised at the degree to which the subject subsequently dominated the web, as well as the rapidity with which many, though not all, of the themes raised in my various questions were echoed elsewhere—parallels with Elizabeth Warren and Caitlyn Jenner among them. Now that there are some other reactions, as well as some statements from the active participants in this cultural mess—and it is a mess–let me add to my commentary.
1. Some commentators, like Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, appear to think the story is a joke. The tone of some of my earlier comments was intended to be ironic, but this is no joke, and the issues it forces society to deal with, or go into denial regarding, which itself is no joke, are important and perhaps represent a cultural tipping point.
2. Rachel Dolezal represents a crisis for the sloppy thinkers of the left. (There are sloppy thinkers on the Right, too, but this story doesn’t expose them.) They need to choose their words carefully, and so far, I have seen no evidence of that. Modern progressive cant is thoroughly polluted with false constructs, hypocrisy, double standards and absurd mandated beliefs regarding diversity, tolerance and fairness, and this story exposes much of it. I wonder if the progressive activists even realize the bind they are in? It is a dilemma they created themselves by assuming that the pile of contradictions they were amassing would be ignored forever if they threatened and insulted anyone who pointed to it. Dolezal just made their shallow exploration of their own truths untenable. Continue reading →
NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal, before she decided to be black.
Rachel Dolezal, a prominent civil rights activist, the leader of Spokane’s NAACP chapter, chairwoman of the city’s Office of Police Ombudsman Commission and a professor in the African Studies Program at Eastern Washington University, has been falsely representing herself as black for years. When someone is asked if he or she is really black, and the answers he or she comes up with includes “That question is not as easy as it seems,” and “We’re all from the African continent,” it’s fair to say the jig is up.
Or is it? Although Dolezal’s mother has spoken out about the 37 -year-old’s background, noting that there is no black ancestry that they know of in the family and that Rachel’s self-identification as black seems to arise out of the fact that she was raised with adopted African-American siblings—you know, like Steve Martin in “The Jerk”?—she may well sincerely believe she is black. Then what?
Dolezal’s actual race, if there is such a thing in her case since she sometimes identifies herself as “white, black, and American Indian,” has suddenly become an issue because she has reported alleged instances of harassment and hate crimes. An inquiry has also been opened at Spokane City Hall. “We are gathering facts to determine if any city policies related to volunteer boards and commissions have been violated,” Mayor David Condon, who appointed her to the city oversight board, and Council President Ben Stuckart said in a joint statement. “That information will be reviewed by the City Council, which has oversight of city boards and commissions.”
Stuckart said the council will meet soon to discuss the developments and that he didn’t want to speak for the group until then. “But if this is true I’ll be very disappointed,” he said..
Is Dolezal credible? Is she courageous? Is she deluded? Is she nuts? Or is being black just, as Gore Vidal said about Truman Capote’s death, a good career move?