Hiding Behind Your White Privilege: Why We Can’t Just Ignore the Critical Race Theory In the Classroom Issue

I’m seeing all sorts of posts from acquaintances praising the concept of limiting or banning the discussion of Critical Race Theory without fully grasping it. Critical Race Theory is not a single issue that can be easily avoided in the classroom. It’s interwoven throughout many topics that go hand in hand with history and literature, art and government, current events and debate.

Many right-leaning news sources such as Fox News are painting CRT as something that CREATES racism. This is completely inaccurate. CRT discusses the impact of racism as it used to exist and still exists. Discussing the effects of racism on American history or current public policy does not increase it; making us aware of problems is the first step to eradicating them. Sweeping it under the rug and saying it’s not there does nothing. It’s not saying that America is a horrible place to live or that we haven’t made progress—it’s simply discussing where we can do better. And we can do better.

As Elie Wiesel, author of Night, once said: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” This quote makes more sense now than ever. How can we teach about the Holocaust without discussing racism and white supremacy? It’s impossible. Under this bill, discussing white supremacy would be a no-no. Discussing the Holocaust could be interpreted as ignoring the bill, and could pose a danger for educators.

If you are a white person who still doesn’t understand why the danger of this bill that is not only being pushed in Texas but over most of the American South, then you are hiding BEHIND YOUR PRIVILEGE and indirectly supporting racist policies.

If you are a white teacher who has not investigated this policy, or have voiced support for it based on right leaning news sources, you are actively supporting agendas that enable white supremacy and condone ignorance to the same history that many of you so fiercely claimed to defend when confederate statues were being removed.

According to Fox News article:

“Attempts to eradicate instead of contextualizing history invariably fail,” Senate GOP leaders wrote. “And because of this Governor’s personal history, the motivations of this decision will always be suspect. Like Senator Chase’s idiotic, inappropriate and inflammatory response, his decision is more likely further to divide, not unite, Virginians.” If you agreed that Confederate statues being removed was erasing history, yet support the suppression of CRT discussions in the classroom, then you must check your motives.

By clinging to your privilege, you are dismissing any students of color in your classroom in favor of your own comfort. In addition, you are also adding to the already heavy burden of teachers everywhere. As Elie Wiesel, author of Night, once said: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” This quote makes more sense now than ever. How can we teach about the Holocaust without discussing racism and white supremacy? It’s impossible. Under this bill, discussing white supremacy would be a no-no. Discussing the Holocaust could be interpreted as ignoring the bill, and could pose a danger for educators.

By embracing your privilege, you are choosing the role of the oppressor.

For more information regarding this bill and the definition of Critical Race Theory, see the following article.

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

A few years ago I learned how to make this sauce that goes really well on chicken enchiladas. I thought it couldn’t get better until it I began taking the extra step to roast the vegetables first. Finishing it off in the instant pot gives it a depth previously unthinkable!

Ingredients:

2 lbs. tomatillos, washed and peeled

1 white onion

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Peppers to taste (I used serrano and Anaheim for this batch, but I really just use whatever I have on hand or what’s freshest).

One container low sodium chicken broth

Directions:

Heat the grill to a screaming hot heat. Add the peppers and onion and blacken.

After the vegetables are soft, transfer to a bowl. Add the chicken broth to the sauce. Using an immersion blender (or regular blender-it doesn’t matter), blend the vegetables until smooth. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Strain the sauce to remove the seeds. Or, you could take the time to seed the peppers beforehand, but I like the heat.

Pour the sauce into the Instant Pot. Cook for 90 minutes.

Pour over your favorite chicken enchiladas or eat with salted tortilla chips.

This sauce can be canned as well to give you the taste of summer all year round.

Texas HB 3949

EPS and JPEG

Suddenly, the same Texan politicians who railed against the removal of confederate statues saying that liberals were trying to “erase history” and swearing that the reason they should stay in place was for us to “learn from our mistakes” are now wanting to make sure that white people are not made to feel uncomfortable when confronted with America’s checkered racial past.

As an educator, I must say this: how much more can we endure?

In the past few years, we have been told that it is our job to protect kids from school shooters. We attend traumatic trainings that try to “acclimate” us to the sounds of gunfire, so that in the very probable event of a school shooter situation, we will not freeze up or confuse the sounds we hear. We need every second to hide your children from the shooter. Our only recourse is to hide in the dark behind the door, holding a trash can or stapler in our hand to protect your kids.

We did that.

We attended trainings where we learn how to stuff fabric into fake bodies should your kid or a coworker (or even our own person) be shot.

We did that.

We suffered pay cuts and were gaslighted that it was wrong to want to be paid for our expertise in our fields.

We did that.

We were told we had to show up in person and teach during a deadly pandemic where more than 600,000 Americans had lost their lives, because our job is so much more than just teaching kids to read.

We did that.

Now, we are being told that to bring up race, or slavery, or sexism, or gender in the classroom will be against the law and punishable in some way (that hasn’t been decided yet). They are painting Critical Race Theory as the Boogyman…and further painting teachers as people who cannot be trusted to teach your kids the right thing.

I cannot with this.

Critical Race Theory is nothing in which we (re: white people) should be afraid. I would need an entire post to define it, and in actuality entire books have been written about it.

Here are some ways Critical Race Theory is discussed in the ELA classroom.

How do I teach To Kill a Mockingbird without discussing Jim Crow? I’m not supposed to talk about that, you see, because a white person might feel uncomfortable.

How do I teach A Raisin in the Sun without discussing Red Lining?

How do I teach Hamilton without the discussion of slavery? It’s impossible.

How do I teach even something as fluffy as Cobra Kai without discussing racial dynamics?

How?

How do I teach any novel featuring a person of color without these discussions?

How do I teach any novel featuring a strong female protagonist that has any sort of power struggle with sexism or gender roles?

https://www.statesman.com/story/news/2021/05/22/texas-senate-approves-bill-limiting-how-race-racism-can-taught/5217696001/

This bill is too long to cover in one blog post. Please see my TikToks if you want further information or to learn more.

@tinamachelle

HB 3979 has been signed by Abbot. Part 2 of what’s wrong with it. #1619projectrealamericanhistory #1619 #HB3979 #texas #texasteachers

♬ original sound – Tina Machelle

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

To watch my video on how to make this, click here:

A few years ago I learned how to make this sauce that goes really well on chicken enchiladas. I thought it couldn’t get better until it I began taking the extra step to roast the vegetables first. Finishing it off in the instant pot gives it a depth previously unthinkable!

Side note: Although it’s pictured, I did not use the zucchini in the salsa. It was just roasting with its friends.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. tomatillos, washed and peeled

1 white onion

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Peppers to taste (I used serrano and Anaheim for this batch, but I really just use whatever I have on hand or what’s freshest).

One container low sodium chicken broth

Directions:

Heat the grill to a screaming hot heat. Add the peppers and onion and blacken.

After the vegetables are soft, transfer to a bowl. Add the chicken broth to the sauce. Using an immersion blender (or regular blender-it doesn’t matter), blend the vegetables until smooth. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Strain the sauce to remove the seeds. Or, you could take the time to seed the peppers beforehand, but I like the heat.

Pour the sauce into the Instant Pot. Cook for 90 minutes.

Pour over your favorite chicken enchiladas or eat with salted tortilla chips.

This sauce can be canned as well to give you the taste of summer all year round.

If you need a good chicken enchilada recipe to use this sauce on, try this :https://tinabausinger.com/2015/06/01/slap-your-mama-green-chili-chicken-enchiladas/

A Lawyer, a Judge, and a Cat Walk Into a Meeting

Just a Country Girl: Defining “Rural”

When working on my dissertation: “Southern Voices, Y’all: A Narrative Inquiry of First Generation, Working Class Women Students Originating from the Rural South,” I became aware of the realm of scholarship devoted to rural studies. It was my feeling that women growing up in the South encountered different cultural pressures that may shape their experiences as a college student, but it wasn’t until I started researching this idea that I began to think about what it means to be from the rural South.

Many people have certain images that come to mind when the South is mentioned, and rarely is it metropolises such as Atlanta or Houston. Certainly, these cites are classified as Southern, but for the purposes of my study, I am focusing on those country places.

This is when the idea of rurality comes in. I didn’t even know such a thing existed in the scholarly world. Although country music has idealized rurality since the beginning of the 20th century (“I was country…when country wasn’t cool…” “I’ve gone country…look at those boots” “A country boy can survive”), rural studies has existed for a while now, beginning in Europe when scholars began observing the differences between urban places and their rural counterparts (Brown & Schafft, 2011). In the social science world, “rural” is not just a place, but also a culture. While some might try to focus on social norms in terms of demographic, environment, and economy, more modern scholars acknowledge the culture of rural people as Durkheim’s notion of the rural definition, which he argued were the glue of rural communities: “the affinity of blood, attachment of the same soil, ancestral worship, and community of habits” (Brown & Schafft, 2011).

This makes so much sense to me.

Though my parents weren’t farmers, their parents picked seasonal crops as a means to survive, and their grandparents lived and died by the rain from the sky. Even though they weren’t farmers, our town was know for its main export: chickens.

Loyalty to the land, a common purpose, love of family, patriotism,…these are all things I’ve been taught from the beginning. Idealizing ancestors, even perhaps many who shouldn’t have been, is not so much taught as it was internalized. A community of habits, well, that speaks for itself. Hard work, not taking “handouts,” earning one’s keep, these are all things country people know.

There are some things country people should learn, but in their stubbornness, refuse to acknowledge, like voting against their own self interests.

I’ll address this virtue in a future post. For now, when you think of country, what comes to mind? Those of you who consider yourselves from the country, what about his life do you feel people misunderstand or misconstrue?

Why We Expect So Much More From “Wonder Woman” Than Other Superheroes

I saw the new Wonder Woman: 1984 a few nights ago, and I really liked it. This was surprising to me, because I struggle with liking super hero movies lately. I think I’ve just been worn out from too many Avengers movies. You know, there are the movies featuring ALL the Avengers, then you have at last two to three for each hero. When it’s all said and done, there are now 22 of them. Twenty-two! That’s a lot.

Before everyone has a heart attack, YES I KNOW that Wonder Woman is DC and not Marvel. There is no way I could live in this family and not know this. Even if I managed to remain ignorant within the confines of my home, I couldn’t teach high school for several years and not make the connection. The kids would not let me.

As a girl, I loved the Justice League. Superman was my favorite, probably because it’s one of the first movies I remember seeing in the theater. Christopher Reeve haunted my dreams. SO CUTE. Besides his looks, I loved the villains (Lex Luthor!) and Superman’s general bad-assedness. I mean, HE’S A GOD. Say what you want about Batman being great, but if you strip Bruce Wayne of his money and toys, he’s basically a low-key Mr. Miagi. I would bet on Mr. Miagi winning that battle.

There have been SO many super hero films over the years, and let’s face it: most of them aren’t THAT great. They recycle the same hero’s journey story over and over. They are predicable. The writers sprinkle in humor and a love story to balance it out, but nobody expects anything new or groundbreaking when we see a new movie coming out. Sure, movie fans will wait in line to buy the ticket (pre-Covid days, sigh), and spend the money to buy the merchandise and clothing and special edition copies, even so.

So tell me, why we expect Wonder Woman to be better?

Why does Wonder Woman need to start out above the bar from what we’d expect from the 10,000 Spider Man remakes? Why does she have to be smarter, sexier, more athletic, funnier, more badass than all the others?

It’s simple.

We are STILL sexist.

Bear with me.

Even though Diana Prince (portrayed by Gal Gadot) has a Ph.D. (don’t ask the opinion writer at the Wall Street Journal his opinion on this), and holds a job as the Senior Anthropologist at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., that’s somehow not impressive for us. In comparison, Clark Kent is just a beat reporter, and Peter Parker takes photos for a paper. Barry Allen is a forensic scientist, which means he has some sort of degree, but it’s not a Ph.D. Bruce Wayne has a law degree, so I acknowledge that’s pretty educated, but can we give Dr. Prince her due? She’s not Batgirl, who has been depicted as a dizzy college coed.

DC combines a few myths and legends for Diana’s origin story. She’s Amazon royalty, descended from Ares, the God of War, a tribe of women so hard-core that they sawed off their breasts to accommodate their swords, were rumored to have tattoos, and possibly smoked pot. Diana is also known in Roman mythology, the Goddess of the Hunt, and virgin goddess and protector of women and childbirth. Even though she radiates sexuality, she doesn’t use it for her own gain. She fights Nazis. Come on, y’all. She’s the perfect woman. Psychology Today agrees.

DC makes sure that Kristin Wiig’s character (Cheetah) seems to be the dark mirror reflection of Diana. The name “Barbara Minerva” caught my eye, since I was taught that Minerva was the Roman goddess of several things, including war. She’s a worthy opponent, and a heavy hitter in her own right. She’s not a villain that became so because she accidentally fell in a convenient vat of acid. Her name implies she had a destiny to go bad. She’s not Cat Woman, a laughable campy joke who could barely be called an adversary.

Did you know that in the original Wonder Woman comics, the creator of Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston, admitted that ““Not a comic book in which Wonder Woman appeared, and hardly a page, lacked a scene of bondage.” Apparently, he didn’t want her to become too powerful and intimidating, so he wanted to keep her in check somehow.

Could it be that we haven’t changed too much, even in 2020? We still expect Diana to be everything to all, and we expect her movie to be head and shoulders above the others, but why?

It seems Wonder Woman has her work cut out for her. She’s taking on the patriarchy and evil as well.

Don’t agree with me? Let me know in the comments!

On The Sun Always Rises and Writing About Real People

Some interesting facts about The Sun Also Rises:In the book Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises, Blume notes that Hemingway’s novel, published in 1926, was based on ACTUAL people and events. He even went so far as to tell them to their faces, “Hey, I’m writing a book…and you’re in it.” (This is my paraphrase. Hemingway’s actual words were probably filled with obscenities and slurred by drunkenness…haha). He did say, “I’m going to tear these two bastards apart.”

He certainly did.

The people depicted in the novel were said to have never recovered from the hits on their reputations. The book was banned several times because of the gore and sexuality…basically, Hemingway’s experiences in everyday life.

clef.https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2016/05/the-true-story-of-the-booze-bullfights-and-brawls-that-inspired-ernest-hemingways-the-sun-also-risesA new book by Lesley M. M. Blume recounts the scandalous trip to Pamplona that inspired Jake Barnes, Lady Brett Ashley, Robert Cohn, and the characters from literature’s greatest roman à clef.

The Shining Podcast

My podcast interview with Konner and Michael from the KMP Vault!

The Shining Podcast

Covid Virtual Book Club: Little Fires Everywhere and the Danger of Privilege

 

library

 

When I began reading Little Fires Everywhere, I noticed the notion of privilege is difficult to ignore. The Richardsons ARE privilege, and so much so that it actually becomes harmful to those around them. In fact, I would argue that their privilege is a direct contributor to the misaligned relationship between Elena and Izzy, which as we know leads to the destruction of not only their family, but Mia’s family as well.

Much is made of Izzy’s not being wanted by Elena, and the not-so-subtle blaming of Izzy for Elena’s fizzled journalism career. While it’s true that Elena did not plan to have a fourth child, and that there is some definite resentment wherein Elena sometimes feels she was a rising star, with the possibility of becoming famous and successful, the TV show does not discuss is the fact that Izzy was premature and sickly at birth, which caused Elena to be extremely worried for her well-being well after she should have been “in the clear.” Contrary to the movie, neither Izzy NOR Mia were lesbians. Izzy’s inability to fit in with her peers or within the family dynamic had nothing to do with her hiding this secret.

The book details the early years of Izzy and Elena in a way the movie skims over. The doctors warned Elena that Izzy might have health problems for the rest of her life, and Elena never quite forgot those words. Though the doom and gloom prediction never materialized, Elena saw problems around every corner. If Izzy tripped, Elena immediately assumed it was because Izzy had poor motor coordination. A family of lesser means would have just accepted this and moved on, but because the Richardsons had money to burn, Elena tried to “fix” Izzy by enrolling her in dance. She never explained to Izzy why she felt it was necessary, and never asked Izzy if she WANTED to be in dance. It was a dance recital, NOT a concert, that Izzy chose to act out with the “Not your puppet” inscription across her forehead.

It is my feeling that the crux of the conflict of Elena and Izzy’s relationship rests not on Izzy being unwanted or stunting out Elena’s career, but rather Elena’s constant searching for perceived imperfections is a direct contributor to the explosive ending of the novel.