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How to Kill a Child’s Critical Thinking [Native Son]

This past weekend an article was retweeted into my timeline and I was completely taken aback. Ever so often there comes a story that demands my attention due to its infelicitous, destitue nature. I have included a portion of the article below.

In a bold comparative analysis of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Jada Williams, a 13-year old eighth grader at School #3 in Rochester, New York, asserted that in her experience, today’s education system is a modern-day version of slavery. According to the Fredrick Douglass Foundation of New York, the schools’ teachers and administrators were so offended by Williams’ essay that they began a campaign of harassmentkicking her out of class and trying to suspend her—that ultimately forced her parents to withdraw her from the school.

In her essay, which was written for a contest, Williams reflected on what Douglass heard his slave master, Mr. Auld, telling his wife after catching her teaching Douglass how to read. “If you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there will be no keeping him,” Auld says. “It will forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master.”

Williams wrote that overcrowded, poorly managed classrooms prevent real learning from happening and thus produces the same results as Mr. Auld’s outright ban. She wrote that her white teachers—the vast majority of Rochester students are black and Hispanic, but very few teachers are people of color—are in a “position of power to dictate what I can, cannot, and will learn, only desiring that I may get bored because of the inconsistency and the mismanagement of the classroom.” …. click here to read the article in full.

The thing that bothers me the most about the actions taken by the school district in which Jada attends is that the point of her essay is proven one hundred times over. Educators are charged with the task of making their students think critically and take some responsibility for their education. By trying to suspend Jada, they are consciously or subconsciously deploying a level of subjugation that has long been used to systematically emasculate any person of color who would outright question the status quo. In the 50s and 60s methods such as murder, imprisonment and forced exile were used. In this case the school board used a type of character assassination.

Illegal Immigrant Fights for Custody of Young Son [ABC News]

A custody battle between a Guatemalan mother who was arrested while in the U.S. illegally and the couple who adopted her son while she was in prison and raised him for most of his life is back in court today.

Guatemalan-born Encarnacion Bail Romero, who entered the U.S. illegally in 2006 while pregnant with her son and later gave birth, was in Missouri in May 2007 when Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers raided the poultry processing plant where she worked. Romero was arrested, along with about 100 other undocumented workers. Romero’s son, Carlos, was 7 months old at the time.

Bail Romero went to jail and a few months later Carlos was transferred to the custody of Melinda and Seth Moser of Carthage, Mo., who later officially adopted the boy and raised him as their own.

But after Bail Romero got out of prison in 2009, she said she took up a long battle to get her son back, even though she hasn’t seen the boy in more than four years.

Why the Abuse of Yumi Stynes Must Stop [MamaMia]

(From reader Megan, who gives a bit of context: ”Australia has a similar problem with racism as the US – as in, we all like to promote ourselves as tolerant and multicultural, but then something like this comes up, and the truth comes out.  I think at this stage, all anyone needs to know is that Yumi Stynes is an Australian TV host, born to a white Aussie dad, and a Japanese mother, who made a silly remark about a soldier on her TV program.)

I’ve seen this happen to so many women and Yumi Stynes is the latest one to experience it with revelations today the torrent of abuse and threats has become so extreme the police have been brought in. I’ve watched this firestorm rage around Yumi for almost a week with my hands over my eyes and a sick feeling in my stomach.

But enough. It’s time to speak out and say something about the way women in public life are attacked so viciously.

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