In the preview segment, a black girl said that you trust your teachers, suggesting that you then find out that they can’t be trusted. Another said something I couldn’t make out, concluding that it was part of daily life. A boy asked how comfortable he could be if he didn’t know who was doing something I couldn’t quite make out. The students weren’t always very articulate.
The presenter, a brown man, said that a school board somewhere or other had been said to have a problem with racism. A report had been produced revealing the scope and depth of the problem. He didn’t say what the problem was exactly, or specify its scope or depth. But young black people faced discrimination, he asserted, and said that we would hear how this made them feel.
When asked to share an experience of racism, a girl wondered where she could start, then kicked off by saying that she felt that not all of her teachers supported Black Lives Matter. What a trial for her! She and her sister weren’t seeing things get better, she said. In fact, they were almost seeing them get worse. Her sister had been told that her parents were interfering with her learning, she said, before saying that one of her sister’s teachers had dismissed the fact that the word “Negro”, appearing in a book, was derogatory. Fourthly, a teacher had told her sister to just deal with the fact that she had been cast as a dog in a play. It was a pattern, she said, and nothing was changing. “That’s what I’m seeing.”
Is it what anyone else is seeing? Where was the racism? Where was the pattern? Why should teachers support Black Lives Matter, and why shouldn’t parents be described as interfering with their children’s learning if their interference was thought serious enough to merit being mentioned? Is the word “Negro” derogatory? Wouldn’t many children love to play the part of a dog? Already at their young age this girl and her sister had become querulous neurotics thanks to anti-racism coming at them from the media.
The second girl thought that it could be seen throughout elementary and high school, “it” presumably being racism. She saw it in what she called the blatant ignorance of some teachers, one of whom had described slavery as no big deal. That was a brave teacher, who might have relieved the girl of some of her own ignorance by adding that the transatlantic slave trade lasted for a fraction of the time Africans had spent selling their co-racials to Arabs and each other in Africa, where slavery still thrives.
She suggested that part of the reason for “misrepresentation” in government could be systemic racism, perhaps meaning that black people were being systematically excluded from politics, which to judge from the number of black politicians in North America they are not. But, she said passive-aggressively, she wouldn’t use the word “racism”; it was just that some people had privilege and others didn’t. Offered the idea by the media that white people were privileged at the expense of black people, she had drunk it in, missing what she could have seen with her own eyes, namely that it is black people who are privileged in the West today through “affirmative action”, “diversity” quotas and so forth.
The third girl, an Ethiopian born in the USA, said that she had been given English-as-a-second-language lessons despite being good at English. She had been judged inadequate for having an accent. The media had had no trouble furnishing her with Marx’s theory of ideology, which cannot credit the “oppressor” with any good intentiions. The school could not simply have thought that she might benefit from extra lessons. Rather, she had been judged inadequate: another non-grievance for her to nurse.
Her brother, she said, who had ADHD and didn’t know how to deal with his emotions, had been treated as if he were a nuisance and aggressive and had been suspended. Could he have been suspended for being a nuisance and aggressive? Impossible!
The boy said he felt like he’d dealt with a lot of micro-aggressions from teachers, which were really hurtful. Some had been surprised that he was in academic classes, because “you don’t see many of that”. He was a Muslim, and once, when he’d used the word “tourist”, his teacher had thought he’d said “terrorist”, which had made him feel that he had to watch his words.
At this the presenter said: “Guys, this is heavy stuff! How does it make you feel, having to go through all this?”It is by decades of sowing seeds of discontent in this fashion that the media have created such unnecessarily unhappy, endlessly moaning and righteous-feeling children, who may grow up to think themselves justified in attacking policemen or throwing fire-bombs into buildings when protesting about imaginary injustices.
The first girl said that it made you feel alone and misunderstood. If teachers didn’t care and the principal didn’t care, no action would be taken. She didn’t say what she thought action should be taken about: still teachers suspected of not being sufficiently keen on Black Lives Matter?
The second girl said that when you were taught about other cultures, it was like: “We do this and they do that” as if the way we did things was the norm. Apparently she had missed the point that the way a community does things is the norm for that community, nor did she suggest how children might be introduced to other cultures except by being told that whereas we do this, they do that.
You just expect racism to happen, said the Ethiopian girl, when unfortunately I couldn’t make out her example. But there weren’t many black teachers at her school, she said, so you felt there was no one you could talk to. Talking to white teachers was not an option, she had gathered from the anti-racist media. “It’s not perfect”, said the boy. Not perfect? Oh dear!
The Ethiopian girl said that another student had once asked her something about her hair, which had made her feel like a dog. I found this strange; you can ask me anything you like about my hair and I won’t feel like a dog. But white people’s allegedly intrusive interest in black people’s hair is a media theme. It was hard to navigate these microaggressions, said the second girl.
Again acting like a parrot, the boy said that if more black people were in positions of power, schools wouldn’t be such hostile environments. Hostile environments? The second girl thought that if the rules were set by black people, children would have space to learn. White teachers would never understand “what we go through”. And so it went on, the presenter sympathising with the students for having to undergo such “really difficult experiences”. How could the situation be remedied?
The Ethiopian girl thought that if there were more special programmes for black students, there would be more of them at university. It hadn’t occurred to her that black students might not need special programmes. They could apply to university just like anyone else, and if they didn’t get in they could apply to colleges that might suit them better. The second girl thought that it should definitely be a goal to get more black students into special programmes.
Back on the need for more black teachers, the Ethiopian girl said that this would give black children “positive people they could look up to”. She didn’t realise that black teachers hired for their race would be inferior to those hired on merit and therefore less likely to deserve to be looked up to. The first girl commented that black teachers had experienced micro-aggressions. “Why are we still the ones suffering?”
The boy didn’t like the fact that the geography he was taught was mostly Canadian rather than African. Geography lessons should be more diverse. Accepting anti-racist orthodoxy, he thought that African geography would be more relevant than Canadian geography to a black child living in Canada. A child from a Polish family would need to know Polish geography, a Vietnamese child would need to know Vietnamese geography, and so on. If little Canadian geography ended up being taught in Canadaian schools, so must the better for anti-racism. Anything to frustrate the process of assimilation.
A well-rounded curriculum would represent all students, thought the second girl, which would solve the problem of students who weren’t very good at maths not doing well at maths. “This is about me!”, they would think. “I want to learn about this!” Enthusiasm would automatically translate into aptitude. Another comment showed again that the teenagers had picked up the idea that “representation” was all-important. No one had explained to her that it is the job of a curriculum to educate students, not “represent” them.
She felt that black history needed to be celebrated all year round, but didn’t say what she thought needed to be celebrated about it or seem to realise how little of it there is. History begins with written records, and no written language appeared in sub-Saharan Africa, nor does much seem to have happened there in all the ages that passed before white people reached it, when its inhabitants were still living in the Stone Age with no lamp, no two-storey building and no wheel. No science or technology had appeared, no discoveries had been made, no explorations had been undertaken. But all this had been kept from her by a Wakanda-minded media.
Concluding, the presenter thanked the students for being brave enough to share their experiences. For the media, this was bravery: the mindless repetition of every anti-racist mantra offered by the media themselves, including the idea that whatever happens to a black person, they have been mistreated.