Misogynist blackface is OK because reasons

High schoolers can be low on empathy and they’re famous for poor taste, but sweet fancy Moses on a soda cracker, how did this pep-rally stunt get approved by teachers? By administrators? The mind reels.

Short version, if you can’t stand to read the whole thing: Three white boys, in blackface, performed a pep-rally skit re-enacting Chris Brown’s 2009  assault on Rihanna. And then?  People defended it as “a little bit inappropriate” that was “completely blown out of proportion” because “kids will be kids.” Dang, you high-strung little pussyflowers, it was just a joke; can’t you take a joke?

“I don’t think it was offensive at all,” said Chelsea House, who earned her high school diploma from Waverly last year and moved to Alabama but returned for homecoming last week and saw the skit.

“There’s nothing wrong with blackface. There’s nothing wrong with dressing up as a black person. Black is but a color,” House said.

“Black is but a color?” Who taught this kid her syntax? I thought, Surely the administration will apologize, if only for fear of lawsuits! but aaaahhh no:

Waverly Central School District Superintendent Joseph Yelich said Tuesday that he did not believe the students in the skit intended to offend anyone.

No, Captain Obvious, of course they didn’t intend to. They just didn’t care; didn’t think; didn’t know. Is this not part of your JOB, to help them care and think and know? I know it’s time-intensive and there are days you feel like giving up. People’s Exhibit A: Several kids laughed at photos of the (trigger warning) Nanking Massacre in class today, and it would have been convenient to ignore it but  helping them understand why photos of the Nanking Massacre aren’t funny was the most important part of my job today. Sometimes I’m late on grading and one week I showed a movie three days in a row, but I don’t slack on teaching them why victimization isn’t big yuks. Last week, some boy told his wittiest one-liner — “It’s not rape if you yell ‘Surprise!’ first” — and of course his girlfriend laughed in order to be the Cool Girl. Gillian Flynn wrote all we need to know about the Cool Girl:

“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.”

But I couldn’t say all that to a pair of 17-year-olds, make them understand, and get them to Trig on time, so I saved it in the mental file that contains all the conversations about Chris Brown and Rhianna I’ve ever overheard between teenage girls:

“She hit him first.”

“She cheated on him.”

“It takes two to tango.”

“She wasn’t hurt that bad.”

“We don’t know his side of the story.”

“Chris Brown can beat me anytime.”

And yeah, Waverly High peeps, you might think, They won’t learn; they don’t want to see and so they never will, but you shove down the words rising like an itch in your throat and walk them through it. Break it up into pieces and hand-feed them if you must, but if you give up because reasons, you might as well leave the classroom because you’ve already abandoned the kids.

3 thoughts on “Misogynist blackface is OK because reasons

  1. Holy crap, this is wrong on so many levels how is it possible that even these inbred troglodytes don’t think there is anything offensive going on here? Sadly, you can’t fix stupid; and as the story illustrates it can be passed on from generation to generation. Thank you for being one of those rare, needle in a haystack, educators who care. We need many more like you.

  2. Thank you, thank you. It’s certainly tempting to hate and deplore people who make these jokes, but if we can educate them and they get it, we’ve done a lot better.

  3. Yep, this is a great part of teaching — the teachable moment. No one is born knowing everything (or anything, really) so every instance of ignorance holds in its arms the possibility of knowledge. Which sounds sort of trite but is exhilarating to help happen.

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