racism

Responding to a question about Jews and race

Anonymous said to realsocialskills:

I really don’t want to be rude but can you explain to me why there is some sort of line between being Jewish and white? I keep hearing this sentiment that people should not compare the two because of religion and culture but that to me is like Russian people saying they aren’t white because of religions and culture. I don’t mean to hurt feelings but I’m black and Native and I’ve face discrimination based on my looks but I’ve never been able to tell when a person was Jewish just by looking them. Help?

Also I know that there are Jewish people of color but this goes back to my ask of what do people see on them, their Jewishness or their skin color because unless Jewishness is a part of color then we would call them mixed instead of Jewish poc because that skin and lineage mixes with another skin and lineage and produces someone with a dual identity. If I’m out of place, sorry but I’m confused cause I’ve never thought anyone was Jewish from looking at them unless they had a religious identifier.

Realsocialskills said:

The very short version: All Jews are affected by anti-Jewish racism. Some Jews, in some contexts, also have white privilege. Both of these things matter.

White supremacists don’t think that Jews are white. And other ideologies of racism have intensely targeted Jews. (Including Nazism, but not limited to Nazism.)

Most living Jews are very closely related to Jews who were murdered by anti-Jewish racists. (Grandparents, parents, great-grandparents brothers, sisters, spouses, cousins, etc.)

Many living Jews are first-generation refugees from anti-Jewish racial persecution, (or closely related to people who are). Jews have been repeatedly expelled from many, many places.

There are a lot of towns in Europe in which every Jewish resident was murdered. And a lot of Jews who were the sole survivors of those places, and who lost their entire families.

(There are few speakers of Yiddish today because so many Yiddish speakers were murdered by racists. The National Yiddish Book Center is dedicated to preserving as much literature as possible).

This isn’t just about culture and ethnicity. Converting to another religion did not save Jews from racial persecution. Neither did assimilating and acting like everyone else. And this isn’t a new thing, throughout history, Jews have been seen as racially suspect even if they convert to Christianity or another religion, regardless of actual behavior

Race and color are not the same thing. Color is a physical fact. Race is a social construct. And it’s socially constructed in different ways in different times and places. In the US, race mostly gets defined in terms of color. It’s defined differently in different times and places. In Europe, demographic forms have often listed “Jewish” as a race.

It’s also true that in the United States, light-skinned Jews have a degree of white privilege. Especially in liberal cities. Especially in comparison to black people and Native people. Jews are far less likely to face employment discrimination, and far less likely to face police violence. (It happens to Jews too, but it happens to black and Native people a lot more.) And any number of things.

But Jews are only seen as white some of the time. There are physical racialized characteristics associated with Jews. For instance, big noses.  There is also an antisemitic belief that Jews have horns, which used to be commonly believed in the US. It used to be fairly common for Jewish women to get nose jobs to escape from that racial characterization. For most white people, being seen as white has not required body modification.

When people look at skin color, they will probably see a white person. When they know that someone is a Jew, they may not see a white person anymore. It’s not about religious beliefs — Jews are seen as less white regardless of behavior and regardless of belief. (Jews who practice Judaism are often more *visible* as Jews, but anti-Jewish racism can’t be reduced to religious differences.) The novel/movie Gentleman’s Agreement is a good depiction of this issue. (It’s on Netflix, and your public library likely has a copy of the book.)

Related to this, white supremacists don’t think that Jews are white. As you know, white supremacy is still significant in the United States. Steve Bannon’s role in the Trump administration is causing Jews to fear for their own safety. People who are consistently seen as white are mostly not asking themselves “Do I need to flee the country?” (Unless they’re also gay or lesbian or trans or disabled or otherwise marginalized.)

There are significant numbers of antisemitic hate crimes in the United States. They’re reported as religious bias crimes, but that’s somewhat misleading. Eg: This article has an image of anti-semitic graffiti with a swastika and the words “Make America White again”  

Tl;dr The answer to “Are Jews white?” is “sometimes, and it depends on what you mean by white”. If you mean ‘light skinned people who have privilege over black and Native people in the US’, then yes, light-skinned Jews are white. If you mean ‘people who are safe from racialized persecution in the US and worldwide’, then no, Jews aren’t white even when they have light skin.

Light skinned Jews have some degree of white privilege in the US, but it only goes so far. Other white people can count on being seen as white. Jews can’t. Even in situations in white Jews are safe, Jews carry the effects of generational trauma from racial persecution, recent and ancient. The ways in which light skinned Jews have white privilege matter, and the ways in which light skinned Jews do not have white privilege also matter. In most contexts, both of these things are important, and both need to be acknowledged.

You may be saying that about your student’s parent

Content note: This post is mostly intended for k-12 classroom teachers, but probably applies to other groups as well.

When you teach, it’s really important to be mindful of the fact that people from all walks of life have children. 

When you say something about a particular group of people, you may be saying it about a student’s mother, father, or parent. It’s important to keep that in mind when making decisions about how to discuss things. (Including things that it’s 100% your job to teach your class about).


When you express an opinion about a group of people, your student may hear it as “I think this about your mother”, “I think this about your father”, or “I think this about you and your family.” Don’t forget that, and don’t assume that you will always know who is in the room.

It’s worth speaking with the assumption that there are people in the room who know a member of the group you’re talking about personally. When you’re working with kids, it’s worth speaking with the assumption that this person might be their parent or someone in a parental role.

This is important whether what you’re saying is positive, negative, or neutral. If you speak in a way that assumes that what you’re saying is theoretical for everyone, it can make it very hard for a child to whom it is personal to trust you. And you can’t assume that you will always know a child’s family situation, or that you will always know how a child feels about it.

For instance:


  • Many parents are in prison, have been imprisoned in the past, are facing trial, are on probation, have been arrested, have been accused of crimes, have been convicted, are on house arrest, are facing some other kind of court-ordered punishment or similar.
  • Many parents are police officers, prison guards, judges, prosecutors, probation officers, or in a related role.
  • Many parents (and children) have been the victims of violent crimes. (Including crimes committed by police officers.) Some children may have lost parents this way.
  • All of these people are parents, and most of their children go to school.
  • Some of their kids may be in your class, and you may not know this.
  • Even if you do know about the situation, you probably don’t know how they feel about it.
  • Kids have all kinds of feelings about all of these things (including, often, complicated mixed feelings).
  • If you want to talk about prison issues, crime, justice, legal reform, or any of that, it’s important to keep in mind that whatever you say about one of these groups of people, you may be saying it about a student’s parent.
  • And that you don’t know how they feel. 
  • Speak in a way that gives them space to have opinions, and to be both personally affected and part of the class.
  • If you say “we” and mean “people who aren’t personally connected to this issue”, kids are likely to feel that you are distancing yourself from them and their parents.
  • It’s better to speak with the assumption that what you’re saying applies to the parents of one of your students, and that they may have complicated thoughts and feelings about this.

Similarly:

  • People of all races have children of all races. When you say something about a racial group, you may be saying it about a student’s parent.
  • People with all kinds of disabilities have children. When you say things about disabled people or disabilities, you may be saying it about a student’s parent.
  • (Including blind people, deaf people, autistic people, people with intellectual disabilities, wheelchair users, people with conditions that usually shorten lifespan, and every other kind of disability).
  • When you talk about teenage pregnancy, keep in mind that some students may have parents who were teenagers when they were born.
  • People of all political opinions, including abhorrent opinions, have children. When you say something about members of a political group, you may be saying it about a student’s parent.
  • People who work at McDonalds have children. When you talk about McDonalds workers and people in similar roles, it’s extremely likely that you’re talking about a student’s parent. (Especially if you teach in a public school).
  • Many people who do sex work have children. If you say something about strippers, porn stars, escorts, phone sex operators, dominatrixes, or whoever else, you may be saying it about someone’s mother, father, or parent.
  • People of all faiths and ethnicities have children (who may or may not be raised in their faith). If you say something about a religion or its followers, you may be saying it about the parent of one of your students.
  • And so on.

Being more abstract again:

  • People from all walks of life have kids, and you may be teaching some of their kids.
  • Keep that in mind.
  • Whatever you say about a group of people, you may be saying it about your student’s mother, father, or parent.
  • If you speak about it like it’s an abstract issue that couldn’t apply to anyone in the room, it’s likely to be really alienating.
  • This is true even if what you say is positive or sympathetic.
  • Kids need to be seen and acknowledged. If you speak as though they’re not there, it gets harder for them to trust you.
  • When you speak about a group of people, speak with the assumption that at least one student in the room has a parent who is a member of that group.

(To be clear: I’m not saying don’t talk about these issues. Sometimes it’s 100% your job to talk about these issues. What I am saying is, keep in mind that it may be personal, that you may be talking about a student’s parent, and that you won’t always know that this is the case. Taking this into account makes it possible to teach everyone in the room.)

tl;dr When you’re teaching, keep in mind that the kids in your class probably have parents, and that you don’t know everything about their parents. Their parents may come from any and every walk of life. Keep this in mind when you talk about issues and groups. You may well be talking about a student’s mother, father, family, or parent. 

Illegal doesn't mean uncommon

So, sometimes when I talk about disability or racial or sexist or religious discrimination, people will be like “but isn’t that illegal?!”.


If you’re inclined to react that way, consider this list of things that are also illegal in the United States:

  • downloading copyrighted movies without paying
  • uploading someone else’s copyrighted content to YouTube
  • Scanning a whole book and putting it on Blackboard for your students to download 
  • smoking marijuana
  • shoplifting

You may have done one of these things in the past week, and you almost certainly know someone who did at least one of those things within the past week.


Illegal discrimination is like that too. It is against the law, but people don’t always follow the law. And, while serious consequences are sometimes imposed, a lot of people get away with breaking those laws without facing any serious penalty.


People who are discriminated against know this. You should keep that in mind when you talk to them about discrimination and the law.


Blackface Halloween costumes hurt people

If you are white (or not black), it’s very important that your Halloween costume not incorporate blackface. Blackface means painting your face brown or black as part of a costume of a black character.

Blackface is racist because it is part of a long tradition of white people dehumanizing black people. White people put on shows where they would paint their faces black and act out extremely racist stereotypes for their entertainment.

This was an extremely popular form of entertainment among white people, not limited to particularly horrible people. Blackface as a form of intentionally racist entertainment has become a lot less socially acceptable since the 60s, but it has not died out completely. (And many people are old enough to remember it being extremely popular, and many more people are old enough to have parents who remember that.)

On Halloween, some white people continue the blackface tradition. They paint their faces black or brown and dress up as racial stereotypes. (Eg: calling themselves thug or ghetto). That’s wrong.

But even if you’re not doing it on purpose, even if you don’t mean to dress up like a stereotype, if you paint your face as part of dressing up as someone who is black or a character who is black, you will end up dressed as a racial stereotype. You will end up participating in the same tradition of mocking black people, together with the people who are doing it on purpose.

For instance, if you admire President Obama greatly and want to dress up as him for Halloween, you would still be invoking a racist trope and hurting people if you painted your face brown as part of the costume. If you want to dress up as the President, dress as the President, not a racial stereotype.

Some other forms of face painting are different. For instance, it’s ok to paint your face white and dress up like a clown. That’s because clowns are just clowns; they’re not part of a tradition of dehumanizing others for entertainment. History and symbolism matter, and they’re about how they’re perceived as much as your intentions.

If you use blackface in your costume, regardless of what you intend to dress up as, you will inevitably actually be dressed a racist symbol, and that will hurt people.

If you need ideas about other things to dress up as, this post on costumes might be a starting place.

Finding out about nicknames respectfully

I recently started substitute teaching, and I’m wondering about calling students by nicknames. Specifically, I’m wondering when to ask if a student has a nickname. So far, I usually just ask “do you go by (name on the roll)?” when a kid’s name seems long or unusual, but I’m worried that might be rude to assume they’d go by something else. Any suggestions?
realsocialskills said:
  
It’s not a good idea to single particular kids out to ask them about nicknames. 
  
Particularly since doing so is likely to be racist (whether or not you mean it that way). Kids with WASPy names are allowed to use their names, and are able to expect that teachers will pronounce them correctly. Kids whose names aren’t WASPy are often pressured to either go by nicknames or allow teachers to mispronounce their names. It’s easy to end up putting pressure on those kids if you single them out, even if all you 
   
There are a couple of better options for finding out if there are kids who go by nicknames:
 
Option #1: Announce at the beginning of roll call that kids should let you know if they go by a nickname, then assume they will tell you. 
 
Option #2: Ask *every* kid what they go by. Eg:
  • “Alexander Smith?”
  • “Here”
  • “What should I call you?" 
If you do either of these things, sometimes kids who like to mess with substitute teachers might tell you that they go by something ridiculous as a prank. I’m not sure what the best way to handle this is. My guess is that so long as they’re not asking you to call them something insulting, it’s better to just go with it. I don’t think it would do any real harm to spend a day calling a kid Batman; it would do harm to argue with a kid about their actual name. But that’s a guess, and I’d welcome input from folks who actually have dealt with this situation.
  
Option #3: Look for clues in the environment. If you are in an elementary school classroom, a lot of things will have students’ names on them, and they will probably be the names students actually go by. If there is a behavior chart/wheel (not a good thing, but they’re common), it will have students names on it. Student cubbies (and possibly coat hooks) will be labelled with their names. There might be a shelf of folders with their names. If you can find something like that, it might work to take roll with that in addition to or instead of the official list.
Teachers and especially substitute teachers, what do y'all think? How do you find out about nicknames without singling any kids out?

cocksucking-accent:

victorsparade:

Don’t miswrite dialects

southcarolinaboy:

passionslikemine:

matchbook-stories:

realsocialskills:

pumpkinskull:

realsocialskills:

So, I’ve seen this problem when people want to write characters from a culture other than their own:

  • They know that those characters speak a different…

victorsparade said:

I’m struggling with this in writing Winning Streak, because as a native English speaker trying to make my main character a native Spanish speaker, I’m sort of treading a fine line between othering and being true to the dialect.  So what I’ve done is some research with Latino/a writers who write for mostly English-speaking audiences but maintain some of their Spanish, especially Junot Diaz (imo, the expert on this), and come to the conclusion that having my heroine teach her best friend and her boss some Spanish for daily conversation was the best/truest way to convey what she was saying without giving it a “look, this is Spanish! isn’t it exotic and pretty?” feel.

Thoughts?

cocksucking-accent said:

Two more problems about writing dialects phonetically:

1) It only works for people with your same dialect - others will read it differently because they read what you’re writing with different phonetics.

2) Non-native speakers may not be able to understand it. My sisters and I (Spaniards) could kindasorta read Harry Potter in English by the time the 5th came out, but we could never understand Hagrid. Not even reading it aloud, because a) we read it differently (see point 1) and b) we didn’t understand the “accent.”

TL;DR please make your writing accessible and non-racist please.

victorsparade:

Don’t miswrite dialects

southcarolinaboy:

passionslikemine:

matchbook-stories:

realsocialskills:

pumpkinskull:

realsocialskills:

So, I’ve seen this problem when people want to write characters from a culture other than their own:

  • They know that those characters speak a different…

victorsparade said:

I’m struggling with this in writing Winning Streak, because as a native English speaker trying to make my main character a native Spanish speaker, I’m sort of treading a fine line between othering and being true to the dialect.  So what I’ve done is some research with Latino/a writers who write for mostly English-speaking audiences but maintain some of their Spanish, especially Junot Diaz (imo, the expert on this), and come to the conclusion that having my heroine teach her best friend and her boss some Spanish for daily conversation was the best/truest way to convey what she was saying without giving it a “look, this is Spanish! isn’t it exotic and pretty?” feel.

Thoughts?

Don't miswrite dialects

passionslikemine:

matchbook-stories:

realsocialskills:

pumpkinskull:

realsocialskills:

So, I’ve seen this problem when people want to write characters from a culture other than their own:

  • They know that those characters speak a different dialect than they do
  • And they want to convey this
  • But they don’t realize the dialect actually has a rich grammar and other idioms and conventions
  • So they end up just using a lot of stereotypes, or mis-using well-known attributes of the dialect
  • For instance, white authors who want to write characters who speak AAVE often misuse “be” as an indicator (by replacing “is” with “be” at random times rather than learning how “be” actually functions grammatically and writing it correctly.)

It’s important not to do that. If you want to write dialogue in a particular dialect, it’s important to actually learn that dialect so that you can write it correctly. 

pumpkinskull said:

and remember, if you’re unsure of how to write a dialect - do research! There are lots of guides to “how to put on an accent” and it’s fairly easy to transfer that into your writing. Or, find someone who speaks that dialect, and ask them for help.

if you have learned the “markers” of the accent but aren’t sure of your ability to transcribe them faithfully all the time, instead of showing the differences in pronunciation orthographically, describe it once or twice when introducing the character.

(quote starts here)

“Can I take your order?” asked the waitress. She didn’t pronounce her Rs and her vowels had a bright sound to them. (Australian, British)

“Don’t do that kind of shit,” he said. Or, something like that. There was a be in there somewhere that I didn’t understand. Was that one of those new fads young Americans did? (AAVE - from a older British narrator visiting the states, perhaps)

My teacher spoke in a peculiar way, putting stress on the wrong syllables, with Ds and Ts for THs. (Québécois)

“The other day, I was trying to tell this one tourist how to get somewhere, so I said, "Oh, you know, you go down Main Street, and then take a left on Jordan, and walk about five minutes,” and he asked me, “Sorry, what boat?” and I realized that we do sort-of say “a-boat,” or “a-boot,” you know?” (Canadian)

(quote ends here)

And of course there are arguments for and against writing accents at all; some people think it’s “othering” to mark some peoples’ speech and not others, while others find it dishonest to pretend everyone speaks the standard (written) language. Do what you as an author are comfortable with, do your research, and try your damnedest to be accurate, polite, and take criticism to heart.

realsocialskills said:

What do y’all think of this?

matchbook-stories: said:

tbh i would never ever figure out what accent those descriptors were trying to convey and would probably at that point stop reading. 

that doesn’t mean you have to phonetically type an accent. i don’t see why there’s anything wrong with just saying “she had an austrialian accent”.

additionally, you can write in a dialect without phonetically typing the accent it’s spoken in. In fact, writing a regional dialect is actually a great marker for the accent in and of itself. You probably don’t want to write your canadian character saying “Oh sohrry I missed your call, I was oot and aboot” because that would be silly. But if you use the syntax and idioms of canadian speech, you can still convey their canadian-ness, and the accent is implied.

passionslikemine said:

As a Southerner who cringes when a Southern accent is very obviously written, even by fellow Southerners, I advise on exercising a great deal of caution when writing anything phonetically (just don’t do it), or even doing more than just the absolute bare minimum of switching of syntax or use of idioms. And by bare minimum, I mean, only use things that make sense in their context and do not even try to go further than that, especially if you are improvising. Southern character uses “buggy” instead of “cart” as they and their friend go to get groceries? Fine. Saying “Howdy” or “y’all” excessively? Noooooo. Southerners who don’t live in the South are very conscious of the way our vocabulary alters perceptions of us; it took me a few years before I started using “y’all” as a form of group address again, especially in a classroom setting, and even now I hear the occasional titter. (Shit, even in the South, one of my student teachers got a full round of laughter from the class for saying pee-can instead of pe-kahn; in South Georgia this is common, being a more rural area with pecan farmers, in N. Georgia we tend to use the more neutral version.)

For a Southerner, the worst you’re going to do is annoy me, maybe hurt my feelings, or come off as classist if you deliberately make the character poor and uneducated. With other accents, AAVE being the first to come to mind, but also any sort of South Asian accent if you’re not from there, writing them phonetically or overusing syntax or idioms runs the risk of making a racist caricature. And then you’re just a dick.

Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having your POV character speculate briefly on where the other character is from, if you don’t want to take the direct approach suggested above. “She had a drawl to her voice, stretching vowels out for much longer than most of the Americans Stephen had met, but he had no clue where she was from. She didn’t sound like a Texan oil baron, but she didn’t sound like Scarlett O’Hara, either.” And later on he asks her and boom, she’s from Alabama. Or East Tennessee, and she’s actually got a really old-timey Appalachian accent. Or Mars, and she learned by watching True Blood. I don’t know.

invite-me-to-your-memories:

Don’t miswrite dialects

pumpkinskull:

realsocialskills:

So, I’ve seen this problem when people want to write characters from a culture other than their own:

  • They know that those characters speak a different dialect than they do
  • And they want to convey this
  • But they don’t realize the dialect actually has a…
Mostly good! But: * some “accent guides” on the Internet are rubbish. Linguists tend to be better sources than others. * native speakers remain the best guide to a language and dialect - they _instinctively_ know how the grammar works. When you learn a foreign language (or a new dialect), you have to think about things like verb tenses and sentence subjects and so on. The average native speaker has been able to make grammatically correct sentences, without thinking about grammar at all, since they were 5.

clatterbane:

Don’t miswrite dialects

realsocialskills:

pumpkinskull:

realsocialskills:

So, I’ve seen this problem when people want to write characters from a culture other than their own:

  • They know that those characters speak a different dialect than they do
  • And they want to convey this
  • But they don’t realize…

clatterbane said:

In a lot of cases, it seems better to convey the point through syntax and idiom, IMO.

Otherwise it’s a little too easy to come across like the hideous, deliberately Othering 19th century attempts at dialect writing. Even if you do some actual linguistic research, and aren’t trying to give that effect. I have seen modern examples that were just so bad (usually dealing with already stigmatized dialects) that I personally try to use a very light touch with that.

realsocialskills said:

Yes, this is definitely a much less risky approach.

tardis60:

Don’t miswrite dialects

pumpkinskull:

realsocialskills:

So, I’ve seen this problem when people want to write characters from a culture other than their own:

  • They know that those characters speak a different dialect than they do
  • And they want to convey this
  • But they don’t realize the dialect actually has a…

tardis60 said:

Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite authors. I can think of half a dozen instances where one of his characters’ unusual speech or pronunciation is written out phonetically to give a sense of personality. Sometimes this is over-the-top off the wall, for humorous effect, as it has no real-world equivalent that I know of (Mr. Tulip’s speech impediment in ‘The Truth,’ Findthee Swing in 'Night Watch,’ Edward d'Eath in 'Men at Arms.’).

Another favorite author of mine, Tad Williams, wrote my favorite series Otherland without making accents and nationalities obvious in dialogue with a few exceptions (Long Joseph Sulaweyo, Daniel Yacoubian spring to mind), to the point where I would forget a character was British or Australian. That effect worked really well for me to confuse identities and cast mystery, which added to my enjoyment. Some characters had unusual speech patterns or slang that conveyed personality in memorable ways without being distracting or obfuscating.

In the hands of skilled writers, both approaches worked for me personally, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the very things that were fine for me offended or turned others off. Everyone has different triggers and thresholds. I’ve found there are certain words and ways of expression that are much more likely to cause offense, and others much less likely.

Unilateral arbitrary rules don’t tend to work well in communication, and certainly that seems to go double for creative expression. If you’re concerned about causing offense, I’d recommend getting feedback from people in a position to understand and have a valuable point of view (e.g. those you want to avoid offending), and err on the side of caution. Be creative in what solutions you try. Figure out what you want to convey and all the ways of doing it. I as a writer love trying different things and coming up with creative solutions.

Don’t miswrite dialects

So, I’ve seen this problem when people want to write characters from a culture other than their own:

  • They know that those characters speak a different dialect than they do
  • And they want to convey this
  • But they don’t realize the dialect actually has a rich grammar and other idioms and conventions
  • So they end up just using a lot of stereotypes, or mis-using well-known attributes of the dialect
  • For instance, white authors who want to write characters who speak AAVE often misuse “be” as an indicator (by replacing “is” with “be” at random times rather than learning how “be” actually functions grammatically and writing it correctly.)

It’s important not to do that. If you want to write dialogue in a particular dialect, it’s important to actually learn that dialect so that you can write it correctly. 

Supporting kids who are below grade level


aura218
 said:

I’m a reading tutor for kids who are below grade level. This is a Title 1 school, which means poverty and the parents don’t speak English. The kids in my program do. I have a lot of discipline problems, ie, kids refuse to come in from recess to come to the program, kids being disruptive in group sessions. We don’t get the kids who are DIAGNOSED severely disabled. They’re all in grades 2-5. 

So, what should I  be doing to get kids who don’t want to come in from recess to come in? So far, a sticker/star reward system is helping the group sessions, but some kids still call out, interrupt me and other kids, and won’t write answers unless I tell them what to write. 

Any suggestions?

realsocialskills said:

Someone I know who does remedial reading has had success with some of these things:

Using computer or iPad reading games

  • Some kids who associate books with humiliation and failure don’t have the same association with computer-based things
  • But if you’re going to do this, make sure the games you pick are actually fun
  • It doesn’t work if it’s exactly like the thing that’s miserable for them off the computer
  • Particularly if it’s just a simulated standardized test

Having kids read plays together

  • This can work well as a group activity,
  • Particularly since all the kids are involved even when it’s not their turn to read
  • Some kids who don’t like taking turns reading stuff *do* like taking turns reading parts in a play
  • Also, again, it’s something they’re much less likely to associate with failure and humiliation
  • You can get books of kids plays that are designed for various reading levels

Use books with positive representation of kids like them:

  • Far, far too many kids books are about rich white kids
  • If all of your books are about rich white kids, you can end up inadvertently sending the message that you don’t respect your students (especially if you are white, but even if you are not)
  • Or that reading is rich and white
  • Having books that have poor kids, disabled kids, and kids of color can make a big difference
  • Particularly if they are good books
  • Particularly if they are books written by people from the same culture as the kids you teach
  • Immigrant kids come under *tremendous* pressure to assimilate and reject the cultures they came from
  • And it’s worth making an effort to make sure that what you do isn’t part of that

Do what you can to make it a safe space for kids who are struggling:

  • Do not let kids make fun of other kids
  • Do not have competitions between kids
  • Do not laugh at mistakes, even if they’re funny
  • (But do let kids laugh at *your* mistakes, even if they’re not funny)
  • Praise people for trying, not just succeeding
  • Because being willing to try over and over until you do something successfully is important
  • And for kids who have been humiliated for failing, it can be really important that you explicitly respect their efforts

Sometimes it helps to modify things in a way that work with rather than against kids’ behavior:

  • If kids are calling out, make a lesson where that’s *supposed* to happen
  • Have some time where you tell kids what to write and that’s ok
  • (And where if kids decide to not write what you tell them and to write something else, that’s also ok)
  • I can’t think of more examples offhand, but I know that this is something that people do successfully
  • Remember that the point is getting kids to learn, not getting them to obey you
  • (You do have to control the classroom to an extent - but it’s worth avoiding avoidable power struggles, and modifying your approach when kids refuse to cooperate with your initial plan isn’t a failure )

But also, are kids being pulled out of recess in order to go to extra lessons? That strikes me as inherently likely to end poorly. If that’s what’s happening, is there any way you can pull the kids out of something else instead? 

Some things I think I know about cultural appropriation

Some things that are not necessarily appropriation, depending on how they’re done (but can get into really dangerous territory really quickly):

  • Learning from another culture
  • Admiring another culture
  • Seeing things in another culture that are better than in yours, and trying to figure out how make what you do more like that
  • Learning values from another culture that are better than yours, and trying to incorporate what you’ve learned into your culture
  • Learning musical or artistic styles from another culture
  • Learning how to make food associated with another culture

Pretending that what you’re doing is literally the same thing people in a culture you admire do is always obnoxious appropriation, though. Here are some examples:

  • Claiming to be a member of a culture you’ve only read about because of how strongly what you’ve read resonates with you
  • Using religious ceremonies lifted from other religions completely out of their context (eg: Christians who are really into seeing Jesus as a Jew often do this with modern Jewish rituals; white environmentalists often do this with Native ceremonies)
  • Saying that you must have some distant relatives from the culture you’re interested in, or that you must have been a member of that group in another life, and acting as though this makes you yourself in this life a member of that group 
  • Reading a book written by an anthropologist describing their perspective on the childrearing practices of a group they spent a few months with, then claiming that you’re raising your kids just like that culture does

I am thinking about next year’s Halloween costume already, because I just really love Halloween :D, but I am a little uncertain about something. One person I was thinking of dressing up as was Tiana, from the Disney movie “The Princess and the Frog.” She’s awesome, and probably my favorite Disney princess. But I am white, and not sure if it would be offensive for me to dress up as her? Not in blackface, I know that would be very offensive, but otherwise, like her dress & hairstyle & stuff?
realsocialskills said:
I don’t know. But I do know some things:
  • It’s vitally important not to do racist things
  • It’s very easy for white people to do racist things without realizing or intending it
  • That’s a line it’s really easy to cross if you’re using clothing or hairstyles associated with people of color as part of a costume.
  • Racists target hairstyles as a way to dehumanize black women; imitiating hair styles of a character could easily end up inadvertently invoking a racist trope
  • Even when you do it unintentionally, invoking racist tropes still hurts people
  • If you have reason to suspect that something is racist, it’s almost always best to err on the side of not doing that thing
  • Particularly when the thing you want to do is relatively unimportant
  • In this case, dressing up as one character rather than another isn’t very important
  • So I think you should probably not do it

But I also think many of y'all know much more about this than I do, particularly followers of color. Anyone else want to weigh in?

anonymous asked:
So, instead of “just pretend I’m purple”, I think it would be better to say “I’m trying to pretend I’m purple”. Maybe not good enough, though. Is there anything one can say that can help? Is the best one can do is to say nothing? Maybe it’s better to listen to what the other person is trying to say.

Realsocialskills answered:

I don’t think that helps, because pretending to be purple is not actually a good idea. Race matters in discussions about racism.

I think it’s better for white people to just admit that they’re white, and that being white has consequences. Pretending to be purple doesn’t help anything. It just obstructs the work people need to do in order to work against the longstanding tradition of racism and build a culture that treats everyone as fully human.

White people can’t just step out of being white; there’s no way to do that in our culture. There are too many centuries of racism and white supremacism. Regardless of how you identify, being white gives you things that no one should ever have.

It’s not your identity as a white person that hurts people. It’s a culture that values whiteness and devalues everyone else. Pretending not to be white won’t fix that.

Being white means you have a responsibility to do something about the pervasive racism and the way white people systemically hurt people of color. Pretending not to be white just means that you’re saying you can identify your way out of that responsibility.

You can’t. So don’t pretend you’re purple. You’re not purple.

How to Write Women of Color and Men of Color if you are White.

kaylapocalypse:

kaylapocalypse:

A colleague of mine was talking to me recently about her misgivings about her capabilities regarding writing Women of Color. She wanted very badly to include several WOC characters in her sci-fantasy series, but she had some concerns about correct portrayal and writing them in a way that wouldn’t instantly piss people off. I told her I would write something about it that might help. So, here we have it: How to write POC without pissing everyone off and doing a horrible job.

In general, it comes down to three things. Research, Persistence and Consideration. Also. for the point of this essay, I am going to use Black women, Native Women and Mixed Race women as they each represent different individual (yet very important) racial struggles that need consideration.

1. Research is by far the most important thing. EVER. For this example, I am going to use black women.

It is important to start by trying your hardest to forget anything you think you know about black women and black female identity. As a white person, anything you would know about them you probably learned from media that is not controlled by or monitored by black women themselves. Meaning that it is likely not a good representation of black women at all. Or maybe you just have a black friend.

Which you should consider in the same way you would a control group for a science experiment.

One or two subjects would not provide conclusive evidence in regards to any hypothesis. Having one or two or even five black friends can’t help you with understanding the complex history of black discourse….

In order to start from scratch, I would first spend some time reading literature written by black women for black women. Learning the way black women have discourse among each other is the first step to understanding their perspective AND emulating their voice. Literature is the genre of media where POC have the most liberty (unlike film) to discuss certain topics or parts of their identity.

Then, I would delve into “complaints”. There are thousands upon thousands of articles where black women complain about their portrayal in media. These complaints are both valid and often eloquently expressed. It is important for you to know, what things black women (WOC) are already so fucking tired of seeing in regards to incorrect or offensive portrayals of themselves. Not only will it help you avoid making the same mistakes as white writers before you (an example of this: Arthur Golden and the hot mess that is Memoirs of a Geisha), But it will also get you upset about certain ways black women (POC women in general) are portrayed, and make you want to write them better. This can improve your writing in that not only will you avoid being offensive, but you now have the chance to be progressive and kick stereotypes out the window! 

Finally, I would take some time to follow some tumblr blogs that are run by the group you’re trying to write. This part of the research can really help because you’ll get a first hand, contemporary dialogue about issues within the specific POC community.  Which leads me to my second topic…

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sometimes abstract discussions are not appropriate

nimbusdx:

realsocialskills:

If someone is telling you about a bad situation they’re in, or something they’re upset about, it’s probably not a good time to launch into an abstract discussion of something tangentially related.

For instance:

  • Jane: My coworkers keep hitting on me. It’s really getting to be a problem.
  • Bill: Well, hitting on people can be very important.

Likewise, when someone wants support for a bad thing that happened, that is probably not a good time to have an abstract conversation with them about the nature of the words they’re using.

For instance:

  • Bruce: This is such an awful work schedule. My boss keeps telling me it doesn’t matter because we’re doing such awesome things. He’s so freaking invested in his privilege.
  • Leo: I don’t know that I’d call that privilege. I mean, obnoxiousness sure, but I’m not seeing the privilege. Doesn’t privilege mean being part of a privileged group? How’s your boss privileged?

Bill and Leo might be right, but what they’re saying isn’t appropriate in context. They’re changing the subject to make it about something else they want to discuss in an abstract way, rather than listening to the problem the person is actually talking about.

That’s obnoxious. (And it’s different from calling people on bad things they do, which can be important too. This subject-change to an abstract topic rather than the problem at hand is a different thing than saying “hey, you’re saying something messed up here”.)

nimbusdx said:

Let’s take a look at the second example with a small difference

Bruce: This is such an awful work schedule. My boss keeps telling me it doesn’t matter because we’re doing such awesome things. She’s so invested in shoving the fact that she’s a “black woman in the workplace” in everyone’s face that she doesn’t care she’s overworking us.

Bruce still has a legitimate problem. Should we overlook his potentially unfair second remark because his legitimate problem is more important than challenging his potentially racist/sexist remark? Suddenly, when it’s a white man making an unfair remark about a black woman, I would hazard a guess that most of the people on this website (including yourself) wouldn’t think it “too obnoxious” to challenge the remark instead of addressing Bruce’s legitimate problem.

realsocialskills said:

There’s a difference between telling someone they said something messed up, and changing the subject to something abstract.

In the example you raised, it would be ok and probably important to tell Bruce that he’s being racist and you’re not going to put up with that. That’s different than having an abstract discussion and ignoring what Bruce is actually talking about.

myindustrialvagina:

realsocialskills:

Do you have any tips on how to figure out who is trustworthy and who is not? As in whether or not someone intends to cause harm to you, etc. I find that I never realize I’m being mistreated until it’s too late, and it makes it really hard for me to find good friend, especially IRL. Advice/tips?
realsocialskills said:
Here are some things I consider to be red flags:
Having a strong self-image as not being the kind of person who does bad things:
  • We all do bad things, even awful things, from time to time
  • People who think that they’re “not that kind of person” actively avoid noticing when they’ve done bad things
  • People who deal with one another regularly hurt one another from time to time, and it’s important to be able to acknowledge this and fix things
  • If you’re dealing with someone who can’t bear the thought of having done something wrong, you’re not going to be able to tell them when they’ve hurt you
  • Because they will blow up at you and hurt you worse when you try, or else they’ll cry and convince you that you’re a terrible person for making mean baseless accusations.
  • Either way, it will make it impossible to deal with problems, and you’ll end up tolerating things that hurt you badly
  • I wrote about that some here
Expecting immediate trust
  • Trust is developed over time
  • If someone wants you to talk about deeply personal things right away, and gets upset when you don’t, they’re not respecting your boundaries and that’s dangerous
Asserting that a deeply intimate relationship exists without considering your opinion on the matter relevant
  • Close friendship only exists if you *both* think it does
  • You are only dating if *both* of you think that you are dating
  • Someone can’t just decide that they’re close to you and that you have a deep close committed relationship; you both have to want it
  • If someone considers your opinion of the matter irrelevant, run.
  • I wrote a post about that here 

Wanting you to depend on them

  • If someone tells you that you couldn’t function without them, do not trust them
  • If they want you to fix your life, do not trust them
  • If they think your sanity depends on their loving understanding care, *seriously* do not trust them
  • If they get angry, or hurt, or cry when you don’t do what they want you to do in your personal life, don’t trust them

Being under the impression that they’re doing you a favor:

  • If they think that they’re doing you a favor by being friends with someone like you, they’re not likely to treat you well
  • Friendship is not a charitable act. It is a mutual relationship between people who regard one another as equals.
  • Similarly, when someone thinks they’re doing you a favor by employing you, it will probably end badly

If people you trust dislike them:

  • If you have people you know to be trustworthy, and they don’t like a new person in your life, it’s important to find out why
  • Sometimes they will be wrong, but often they will be right
  • It’s important to figure out what’s going on, and why they think that — then if you disagree that’s fine, but it’s not a good idea to dismiss it without thinking about it

I’ve also written a lot of posts relevant to this issue. It might help you to read through my abuse tag and my boundaries tag and my red flags tag.

myindustrialvagina said:

and also

1) people who suddenly take a shine to you out of nowhere then always need stuff (physical things like money or car rides) 

2) people who cannot deal with confrontation under any circumstances and either refuse to talk to you about your concerns or constantly change the subject or make it your fault

3) people who discuss others esp talking bad about them, because i guarantee they’ll do the same thing to you as well

realsocialskills said:

Yes, although talking bad is a somewhat misleading way to put it. Because people who’ve been mistreated a lot might have really legitimate reasons to say bad things about others.

I’d say it this way:

  • If someone violates confidences without any apparent reason, they will probably violate yours
  • If someone doesn’t seem to respect anyone they talk about, they probably don’t respect you either
  • If they go out of their way to humiliate other people, or talk about others in degrading terms, that’s a serious red flag

Also, if they tell hate jokes (eg: racist/sexist/antisemitic/disability hate/mocking children or old people) or use racial slurs, that’s a red flag for being untrustworthy. (And for being someone who is likely to make *you* less trustworthy for members of the groups they’re mocking).

matsuda-misa-mikami:

: Something white people need to stop doing

realsocialskills:

A lot of times, white people call things or people racist as a joke or a generic insult. For instance:

  • In response to someone expressing a preference for white shoes over black shoes
  • In response to someone saying something that offends them for some unrelated reason
  • In…

matsuda-misa-mikami said:

However, there are people of a different ethnicity who do that too… Yet this gives the impression it’s only white people who should stop…

realsocialskills said:

Everyone should stop. But there is a reason that I mentioned white people specifically.

In the US, and I’m sure in other places as well, it’s really common for white people to base their self-image on seeing themselves as Good People Who Aren’t Racist. That racism comes from bad people, but we’re ~not that kind of people~.

Or, in other words: many, many white people care much more about seeing themselves as not-racist than they do about not doing racist things. This is considered normal and socially acceptable.

And it’s a problem, because our culture is founded on centuries of racist violence. (It’s also founded on many other things, many of them good and important. But racism is a major element, and that matters). Seeing yourself as above being racist doesn’t undo that. It takes actual work. Telling jokes like that trivializes the work that is needed.