rambling about culture and politics

I worry about our educational system here in the US. So many people grow up without really having a clue about how our government is set up. Sometimes, I'm not sure I know that much about it myself. I'm the product of public schools in Texas after all. Texas, for the one person reading this blog who might not be from Texas, is the home of one of the largest textbook scandals in the history of textbooks. Corruption in Texas is pretty rampant on most levels, but the education system is just plain broken. It's no wonder so many people decide to home school.

But then, when you do decide to home school, what then? How do you know what to teach, which textbooks to trust, who to rely on? To a certain extent, early education is really nothing more than indoctrination. It's important for all citizens to have a reasonable grasp of how our society works so that they can function and be productive. But, we have such a diverse society that deciding how it “works” can be next to impossible. One might reasonably argue that in many ways it does not work.

We also have weird ideas about culture. We think in terms of “black culture” or “white culture” or whatever. The whole concept of culture being tied to the color of one's skin is intrinsically racist. Culture is learned. No matter what color your skin is, you learn your values, your tastes, your place in the world from your environment. It's all about where you grow up, who you grow up around, what you are exposed to.

While some things we normally associate with “culture” may have a genetic basis, over all culture is not biological. Thus, I don't see why some people tend to super glue the concept of “culture” to the color of a person's skin.

I know a woman who is of African heritage who was adopted as a very small child by a family of Caucasian heritage. She grew up in Minnesota surrounded by white people with white bread values. At some point, however, she decided that she was missing out on something so she went to Oakland, CA to pursue her “black culture.” I haven't heard from her since then, but I can't help wonder how that went. Do you really have to eat certain types of food and listen to certain types of music depending on the color of your skin? Really? If a white person said that all Blacks do “blah” would that be considered a racist statement? Why is it OK from the other side? This issue confuses the heck out of me.

Also, the whole concept of whether people should be called “black” or “African American” or “people of color” or whatever also confuses me. The woman who did our sensitivity training was pretty hostile on the issue (she was, er African American I think). My question was, “Why is it bad to call out a person's skin color when describing them? You wouldn't think anything of saying, 'The blonde-haired woman by the water cooler.' But, somehow it's not ok to say, 'The black/African American/whatever the politically correct term is these days woman next to the blonde'”

Admittedly, that may have sounded like a confrontational question, but after all the woman was the sensitivity TRAINER. So, like, she should know how to be sensitive too? Maybe? And for goodness sake, who could you ask that question if you couldn't ask someone TRAINED to teach people how to get along? Anyway, she was pretty hostile about it. She said it was “because of slavery.” I was inexplicably reminded of Terry Pratchett novels in which things that are weird are frequently explained as being “on account of quantum.”

I have successfully written seven paragraphs of nothing. I'll stop now.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>