A perfect example of no number sense. And racism.

Posted on March 11, 2012


This morning, this article was the front page of the local paper:

National Report Says Minority Students Punished More Often

Here’s a link if interested:  http://www.sbsun.com/ci_20146481/national-report-says-minority-students-punished-more-often?source=rss_viewed

I am going to argue. Not that it isn’t true that some ethnic groups have a bad rap, whether because of their own actions or because of the actions of the others of their group in the past.

I’m going to argue that national numbers do not reflect the problems of a local community. I am going to argue that we’ve given a “Get out of Jail Free” card. And it’s making me…tired.

Is there a disproportionate number of students, overall, who are arrested or expelled who are also Black or Latino? Yes. But at the school I teach at, the White and Asian students are the overwhelming minority, to the tune of 10 percent of the school. The number of Black or Latino students on the suspension list is overwhelming; it is rare that an Asian or White student is on it. Ever. The Asians and Whites are the minority in my world. But the media presents the numbers in a way that says The Man is picking on people of color.

The students buy into it, or have been taught to buy into it. Every time (no lie, EVERY time) my colleagues or I call out a student on their occasional crappy behavior, the response is “You don’t like (Black, Mexican) people.” They say it because they feel that we’ll back off. And they are right.

Sidebar: The students use the word “Mexican” instead of “Latino”. Not me. And for full disclosure: I am of Northern European descent (“White”, and more specifically, Irish) and my husband is of Asian descent (more specifically, Japanese). Our mixed marriage has gotten the students to back off me since I have his last name and our mixed marriage is in their face daily. Not him; his students seem to forget who he’s married to, so he clearly doesn’t understand racist behavior. {Please smell the sarcasm burning.}

Back to my argument: When are we, as a culture, going to let this race-based news stories that don’t exist go? Yes, there are racist people out there and put that racism out in public. Yes, it is also easy for me to say “there is no racism” since I’m white. I’ve gotten plenty of practice since I changed my name though…people’s attitudes toward me change when they either see me in person after my name (they thought I was Asian but found out I wasn’t) or the reverse.

Now I am rambling. This is proof that I am tired.

When will it end? Really?

Posted in: School