Maybe We Do Need White History Month or Millennials Don’t Know Shit About Slavery or Picking Appropriate Essay Topics or Being a Black English Adjunct Sucks Sometimes–Merry Christmas

So, I have to go with the salutation that one of my favorite IG personalities, Jill Is Black, often uses in the opening of her videos–

Dear White People–

And then I have to say something touchy, that I almost regret, but not quite because it’s necessary–

Please get your kids.

If you are a Boomer with a Millennial kid or grandkid, or an Xer with a Millennial kid, I’m begging you. For his own good. Get him.

Explain to his little ass that while slavery did allow White America to amass tremendous wealth during the two-plus centuries of its operation, which, in turn, allowed America to become a global superpower, submitting an essay entitled “Slavery Changed America for the Better” that does not approach that idea from an economic standpoint solely is problematic as hell.

Could you–just–for me? Please?

I literally just read the following in a first year student’s paper:

“In conclusion, through slavery people have learned to stand up for what they believe in and show off who they are. Many people see slavery as a negative thing because of all the damage it had on people, physically and mentally. But in the end, slavery was actually a positive thing for the world because people learned to fight for who they are. It all started when slaves were brought to the colonies in the 1800’s. Men and women were forced to live in terrible conditions as farm hands and some as house servants. No slaves were given the privilege of reading or writing as that might cause [sic] to learn how to escape. They were encouraged to raise large families and the slave women would be taken by their masters for sex. However, slaves would use the underground railroad [sic] to escape and many did. This simple act of courage changed the world. This started the beginning of a long flight for equal rights because slavery started segregation . . . Racism really came about after slavery however, slavery was something that really opened up people’s eyes.”

And this passage really opened up my eyes. It made me rethink some things.

Because every February, on social media, I read a barrage of reposts from young white people arguing about the reverse racism of Black History Month. And the shit gets me tight (shout out, Cardi B.)

These white kids’ favorite point to make is White History Month would never be tolerated. So why, they ask, should Black History Month be allowed to exist?

And usually I respond to this argument by counter-arguing that Americans are compulsorily taught the history of White America in school, but very few are taught about black history beyond receiving concise briefings on slavery, Emancipation, and Jim Crow (“Africans were kidnapped and sold into slavery. They worked under harsh conditions. Lincoln freed them with the Emancipation Proclamation. The South retaliated to the loss of slavery and the Civil War by instituting segregation. MLK and LBJ ended Jim Crow”).

And, even if grade school students are taught anything about Reconstruction or the Civil Rights Movement or–brace yourselves-the Black Power Movement in school, they are not taught these things with very much historicity, nuance, or depth.

But you know what?

Maybe all these angry millennials are right. Maybe we do need a White History Month after all.

Because maybe if we taught the history of slavery and Emancipation and Reconstruction and Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement in terms of what white people were doing during these periods rather than what black people were experiencing-if we used the “great deeds done by great [white] men” paradigm with which Western history is generally taught–if we completely subverted the black narrative the way we do the indigenous narrative, say, in teaching about the geographical expansion of the nation–then white kids would actually know what the fuck happened.

Maybe if we provided them an encyclopedic number of facts about how white people captured Africans, transported them to the Caribbean, “made” them through torture and starvation, transported them to America, sold them, broke them, raped them, separated their illegal families, murdered them when they attempted to escape, maimed them when they stole food or read or wrote something, while the whole time justifying their actions with decontextualized and misrepresentative religious doctrine and pseudo-science, these young white people would know better than to write shit like “A privilege that slaves did have that owners and masters actually encouraged was reproducing.”

Because here’s the thing: White slave owners bred slaves. They didn’t set them up on dates and provide them with cushy rooms and beds so they could comfortably and happily make babies. They forced the most physically robust of their slaves to have sex, whether they had an intimate relationship or not, in the hopes they would make more physically robust slaves that the owners could exploit for free labor, or they could sell.

Slave owners didn’t afford slaves anything that could be accurately called a “privilege.” They “granted” slaves petty “freedoms” that weren’t theirs to grant (“inalienable rights,” remember?) and never should’ve been stolen from the slaves in the first place.

But, mostly, they treated them like animals of a slightly higher order than horses.

And all of this began happening, systematically, in the 1600s. Which means white people held generations of black people in bondage for–no–not 63 years–from 1800-1863–but from 1619-1865.

Maybe if we had a White History Month, and we taught our young people even more of what white people did to establish this country, in more explicit terms than we generally use in classrooms and textbooks, then students wanting to write about slavery, like mine, could at least get that–the timeline of the institution–correct.

They could write things like “A Dutch ship manned by a Capt. Jope and Mr. Marmaduke brought the first African slaves–20 kidnap victims–to Jamestown, VA, in 1619 to oversee tobacco crops,” and “On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger read aloud, in Galveston, TX, the text of General Order No. 3, which signified the total emancipation of slavery in America.”

Now, of course I’m being petty and facetious. The student that wrote this “slavery changed America for the better” paper obviously needs to learn how anti-blackness served as the philosophical underpinning for American slavery.

His lack of factual knowledge about slavery is just part of a larger problem–his almost complete lack of understanding of the integral role of anti-blackness in the development of American culture and white identity politics. But this isn’t just his problem. Once he writes a paper and turns it in to me, I’m affected.

Which is where my frustration comes in. At the intersection of his privileged myopia and my beleaguered humanness.

Because I do not need to be accosted by micro-aggressive bullshit like this–which diminishes the horror of slavery and perilous nature of the black experience in America–so by extension the exigencies of my existence–no matter how inadvertent or “innocent” that micro-aggressive bullshit might be.

Yes, as a teacher, I understand this young man’s seeming desire to rewrite history–to expurgate the immense cruelty with which white slavers treated slaves–or absolve white people of that cruelty in whatever convoluted way he can manage–so he cannot be viewed as an accessory in their massive crime after the fact or a beneficiary of their proverbial stolen merchandise (i.e. white privilege).

However, I do not understand why he would recruit me of all people to help him in that effort in any way.

I have no interest in making anyone feel as if slavery was anything other than the holocaust that it was. Why should I? And it was a holocaust. Some 10 million died as a consequence of American slavery.

So I don’t particularly care or care to hear about whether the shit made America “better” or not.

And, of course, it galvanized black people to fight for their rights–that is a fact, not an arguable thesis–but, besides that, wouldn’t it have been “better” if black people didn’t need to fight for what they already had in their homes in Africa? I’m just saying.

So white people–please–

Give your children a book about slavery for Christmas. Yes–I’m going to make this a PSA. Tuck a book about slavery into your children’s stockings–something they can skim some time between their Pokémon-playing and YouTube-viewing–and help stop madness like this from persisting.

Direct them to a historically accurate Internet source where they can read about slavery, so they can understand how wrong it is to a) endeavor to do something like prove slavery was “good” for America (as if black people aren’t part of America), and b) present the fruits of that endeavor to a black American woman that is the descendant of slaves (my great-great-great grandfather, who my great-grandmother remembered to me as a kid–her grandfather).

Let me give you a gift. Links. There are wonderful book suggestions for very young to college-age kids here, here, here, and here. Have at them.

And tell your young people–from a logical standpoint–they cannot argue that slavery made America “better” because “better” is a comparative term, and we can only extrapolate–we can’t know–what America might’ve been if there hadn’t been slavery.

Although I wish to God that we could.

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94 Comments

  1. “But, mostly, they treated them like animals of a slightly higher order than horses.” Maybe I’ve watched too many movies, but I think the horses fared better! Keep writing, sister … I get much food for thought and discussion from your frank and insightful posts.

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  2. As a fellow teacher, this post resonates with me. BUT, it also knocked me to the ground.
    My enslaved and dispossessed ancestors are likely rolling in their graves, but I am 100% Team White History Month now. You have convinced me.
    Thank you for your post ,and for staying out of jail by not laying hands on that student.

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  3. Thank you for this. I teach Black Art History and related courses and while I have yet to be subjected to this statement in particular, such comments and perspectives do come up… And I want to thank you also as an *adjunct* professor for speaking out because we know that often as the “only” one in our departments (I am the only Black prof in my department and one of few at the school) and if we specifically teach courses focused on race, it can be an absolutely exhausting road to travel day in and day out, and we travel it without the relative comfort of a salaried, secure position but most often from a place of poverty, economic insecurity, and the awareness that any one of these youngsters could decide they want to misunderstand/misconstrue the truth and get us fired (unless–hopefully–we have a supportive administration). The levels are so deep.

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  4. Dear Ms. Smith, thank you for your beautifully-written essay. It brought this old white woman to tears. I am so very sorry that my people persist in their willful wrong-headedness. I offer no excuse; just a heartfelt apology and my promise to continue to stand against ignorance and injustice.

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  5. Yep. I taught Equiano in world lit . Kids had no idea the Middle Passage was even a thing. Taught an excerpt of Malcolm X — one student thought he was a slave. Taught Michelle Obama’s Tuskegee Address. WWII? The Tuskegee Airmen? Selma? Carver? Booker T.? Nada. No clue. And when they had to watch Jesse Williams’ BET speech: “Isn’t it racist for Black people to have their own channel?” Um. No.

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  6. Thank you for your work. Do you accept payment for your contributions to the conversation? May I use your blog in my classes (I teach rhetoric, writing, and gender studies)?

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    1. I am going to launch a Kickstarter capaign to expand the blog soon. Yes, you may use my materials. I’m flattered that you asked. Just please adhere to the copyright statement in the footer of the blog.

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    1. I graded his paper, taking into account his historical inaccuracies, basic misunderstanding of the philosophical underpinnings of slavery, faulty logic, lack of counterargument, and mechanical and punctuation errors.

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      1. Definitely. I guess I’m asking how deep you got into it in your comments with him. Particularly if this is a final paper, what can we leave someone like this with that does some small thing to set them off in a direction that keeps them thinking beyond the class? (I’m a teacher myself who tries to address these issues, so I’m not just asking hypothetically.)

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      2. It is the final paper, unfortunately, and very few students come back to retrieve their graded final papers. I would send this student a message about the paper, but, as an adjunct, and an instructor (not a professor), on a campus with three black professors total, I’m not risking my gig. I literally can’t afford to. Which is why I wrote the blog. To vent. Contingent employment puts you between a rock and a hard place in situations like this since schools treat students like customers and attempt to give them everything “their way.” He wrote the paper, but I won’t complain about it because I don’t want to offend HIM. I have a kid, a lease, and a car note. I need to be able to teach.

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  7. This probably has to be the 2nd time, ever, that I’ve responded to anything on the internet in the comments section. Comments generally make me sigh, shake my head, and figuratively weep for humanity because, in my limited experience, the vast majority of the time they seem reactionary, ill-conceived, and not well-intentioned (<—please tell me I spelled that correctly, stupid red "hey-you-spelled-that-wrong" line). It seems like, in pretty much every case, the person at the keyboard misunderstands or reacts harshly without the complete story… but, in this case I'll gladly descend from my high horse and wade in because I probably don't need more information. I can't think of the words to express my shock, disappointment, confusion, fear, anger, and whatever other emotions are festering right now. Probably because I keep going on with my life where things seem fine and I can start to think we, as a species, are evolving out of this kind of thing… and then I get reminded, so starkly, how this happens. All. The. Time. So, now I want to rant on and on about the blinding light of privilege, or about how I hate that this is just YET ANOTHER dumb-***-kid illuminating his lack of depth by trying to be clever. That won't really help… it'll just continue to frustrate me and maybe continue to ping google harder, further tightening any kind of confirmation bias bubble I already live in. So, for now, I'll just say 3 things: 1.) Sadly, this idiocy isn't limited to Millennials (GenXers, Boomers, yeah, pretty much most generations of Americans), but I do have hope for these kids that they'll be more inclined, in greater numbers, to "get it" than the last generations. 2.) Yeah, since people can't seem to get it through their skulls that EVERY month is white history month, maybe we should do a specific call-out. And 3.) Thank you. I think everybody needs to be able to see this kind of thing.

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      1. The shorter version:
        “1.) Sadly, this idiocy isn’t limited to Millennials (GenXers, Boomers, yeah, pretty much most generations of Americans), but I do have hope for these kids that they’ll be more inclined, in greater numbers, to “get it” than the last generations. 2.) Yeah, since people can’t seem to get it through their skulls that EVERY month is white history month, maybe we should do a specific call-out. And 3.) Thank you. I think everybody needs to be able to see this kind of thing.”

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      2. Aaron–I finally got to read the longer version of your comment. I had the same calvaclade of emotions when I read it, too. It’s so frustrating and exhausting–having to watch and listen as White America plays existential hide-and-seek with its violent and exploitative history.

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      3. Haha 🙂 Thanks, for putting up with my inability to be concise! Also, I’ve been thinking about, and ranting about, and mulling over this and a simple word to summarize this was eluding me. You just used the word: “exhausting.” Thanks for that… Exhausting was the concept I’ve been looking for. This situation is also exhausting on so many more levels than the individual – exhausting for our collective, for our economy, for our cities, our country, and our species. I’m not naive enough to think that healing from any kind of trauma is like it is in the movies (a couple of scenes and one wonderful monologue and bam, we’re healed), but the effort to confront, accept, change, and move on cannot be as exhausting as this perpetual state of denial, systemic discrimination, and ignorance. When you have a serious leg injury, you don’t just ignore it, you assess the injury, attempt the best fix you can, go to therapy, and keep up your stretches or whatever… that’s a lot of effort, yeah… but it’s way less difficult, exhausting, painful, or costly than ignoring the injury and spending the rest of your life unable to walk.

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    1. How are they going to “get” it, if they are not taught the truth? No, they will perpetuate the nonsense through generations and this stupid administration has given rise to a lot of covert racism, the likes which I haven’t seen since I was a child (during the civil right’s movement). I am appalled, and sick of the dumbing-down of children. It’s not just children, either. Businesses are dumbing-down, and our history has always been covered-up in schools for the youth. Black History classes in college are an elective, so unless you want to know, you’ll never know!

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  8. Thank you for this essay…wow. I am a high school teacher of African-American, African (they have distinguished themselves), and Latino students, who recently had these young people write arguments which analyzed how Dr. M.L. King and L.B. Johnson expressed their beliefs (regarding the struggle for civil rights) within their speeches. What I learned is that the Latino and African students felt as though the African-Americans need(ed) to FIGHT BACK (imagine that!), with most also expressing that the struggle for civil rights was a Black thing. Period. Full stop. As a woman who identifies as African-American, well, let’s just say, we closed the door, did some research, had some frank discussions and words like “colored” are no longer allowed unless it’s a direct quote from the 1960’s. Thank you again for tackling a tough topic, with some interspersed humor–not an easy feat. Well done, Sis!

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  9. Had to reblog this. Thank you, Michelle. We do need to properly educate our young to the true history of slavery, reconstruction and all of the grisly nuances that Western history skirts in its telling. We claim a civilized schema of an uncivilized reality. I blamed this for Dylann Roof, for early forgiveness without thought of communal grieving, almost as savage and selfish as the act itself. So yes, for all of our Baby Boomers, Xers, Yers, Millennials and future generations, white and non-white – it time to tell the ugly truths and cutout the savagery.

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  10. As an old white man, you brought me to tears of frustration. How can we expect the children to learn the lessons of history if concerned parents aren’t living, breathing examples. I see the scourge of absent minded racism all the time, usually I turn away and let it go, you’ve made me realize every time I do this, it allows people to feel that it is accepted. Your treatise has encouraged me to give people less space to be closed minded. I have in the past stepped up when someone was being verbally abused, and put an arm around them, and walked them to safety, but never have I stepped up when someone around me said something in all white company. I hate confrontations and normally shy away unless someone is in danger, but now I know I need to speak up in those times, and shine a light on the darkness of racism, where ever I may see or hear it. Thank you for reminding me of my humanity!

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  11. Ms. Smith: I do in fact teach my high school students about all the topics you mentioned and more. My question — sometimes I hear comments from my African American students about how we spent SOOOO much time on slavery, “like that’s the most important thing”. It’s caused me concern that perhaps I overdo it. Thoughts? Should I keep doing what I’m doing?

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    1. I think contextualizing it is important. Slavery is the root of the black-white binary that still exists today. Link it to current cultural and societal issues like police brutality, the prison industrial complex, the wage gap, and the achievement and discipline gaps that exist in US schools.

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      1. That is exactly what I do. I think what they were communicating, and they only did this in front of me not the class, is that they felt awkward (?) as a primary ethnic group being focused on. Other Black students have raved and praised it a refreshing and engaging. I will continue to find connections to their current lives, school-prison pipeline, BLM need, election etc. Thanks for taking the time and energy to allow us to learn from your perspective.

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      2. Thank you for reading and commenting. That ugly era of our history makes us all feel awkward, and I think black students worry that it reflects “negatively” on them–the fact that their ancestors were so successfully and thoroughly subjugated–I think they find it humiliating or embarrassing–but whenever I am talking about slavery with young black people, and I sense those feelings, I just remind them to focus on this one immutable truth about slavery: Black people were put in a situation that could’ve plausibly destroyed them, but they were not destroyed.

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  12. Wow. The kid might be somewhat in the wrong but you as an obviously racist teacher are horrifying and should never be allowed around kids. You are there to inform them, not ridicule them, not put their stuff on the internet, not dismiss their thoughts. You are what is wrong with America, black or white.

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    1. John Ashman–If you think that I would speak to students the way I write in this blog, then you’re an obviously unintelligent person, quite frankly. What institution would allow that, first of all, and what teacher would do that? This is my space for personal, not professional, expression–read the tagline under the title. And I did not dismiss his thoughts. I critiqued his ability to construct a logical, fact-based argument. This is not his grade report here. These are not the summative comments I gave him here. And if you had read the post more carefully-or for understanding rather than to affirm the bigoted opinion of me you probably formed from the title–you would’ve realized that I was attacking the way history is taught in America with this post, not my student. That said, I AM what is wrong with America–absolutely–I am a result of centuries of antiblack racism and exploitation and subjugation of my people’s labor and genius, in so many senses. But if America were as righteous a place as it aspires to be–if white people as the majority weren’t as invested in hegemony and supremacy as they are–a black person with my level of disgust and disillusion wouldn’t exist. My student got at least that much of his argument right.

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  13. When I first saw a reference to your blog somewhere else, I thought this must be a joke. How could anyone argue that slavery was a good thing? Alas, once again I learn that I am not sufficiently cynical.

    My sense is that, on average, people just don’t understand how brutal and barbaric slavery was. I remember when Quentin Tarantino received a lot of criticism for his depiction of slavery in Django Unchained as being too harsh. Folks, slavery was much worse than even the way Tarantino depicted it. It is as if slavery is simply too horrible for a white teenager to comprehend.

    I am truly sorry that this student felt that he could convince you that slavery was a net benefit. That kind of insult must be incredibly infuriating. And on an adjunct’s salary to boot.

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    1. David–I think you’re right. Human atrocities are intellectually overwhelming in a sense. But they happen. And there are no silver linings to them. They should only ever be approached from the premise that they should not have happened and should never happen again.

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  14. Though I am white, I understand better than you think. Some of my ancestors in this country came over as indentured servants. They were treated better than black slaves, but still not treated well. Some of my ancestors had difficulty ending their contracts as originally agreed. I tell my nieces and nephews these stories, and hope they remember.

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  15. I hope you don’t mind a nit-picking question. In the excerpt, I notice you put a [sic] after “underground railroad.” I don’t see why. Obviously I know it wasn’t a literal railroad, and I’m sure the student did too. Is it because there’s another term for it that is considered better these days?

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  16. I am actually appalled that you would expose a student of yours to such ridicule. The white community has done a terrible job of educating their children about black experience. But that is not an excuse to hold an individual out to mockery.

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    1. Matthew Mead–I have not held my student up to ridicule. I have held the white community that has done a terrible job of educating their children about black experience up to ridicule. Where in this post did I call my student a name, insult my student’s actual intellectual capacity, or attack my student’s humanity? Nowhere. I dismantled the faulty logic of his argument, but that is not ridiculing him. I’ll tell you what I DID tell him, in the summative comments I put on his paper, which are not this blog post. Read again and more carefully this time. “Yes, as a teacher, I understand this young man’s seeming desire to rewrite history . . . However, I do not understand why he would recruit me of all people to help him in that effort in any way.” That is probably the most direct statement I made about the student throughout the entire post. And it isn’t personally derogatory.

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      1. “I have not held my student up to ridicule. Where in this post did I call my student a name, insult my student’s actual intellectual capacity, or attack my student’s humanity?”

        You are using privileged communication of an individual as a stand in for a community. Placing the failures of said community on one person. A person who, apparently is working to educate themselves, i.e. reduce their ignorance. When he brought his topic to you did you direct him to sources that might better inform him of the subject?

        “I’ll tell you what I DID tell him, in the summative comments I put on his paper, which are not this blog post.”

        Good I hope he picks up the paper and learns something from it.

        I don’t know this young man, and I do know there are a great deal of shit heel white people out there(this election proves this). We have all written stupid/bad/terrible papers in our lifetimes, papers that we trust our professors to keep as privileged information. I can only place myself in this given situation. If one of my professors used one of my lesser papers, online, to make a point, I would have been devastated.

        I don’t oppose your argument. I oppose your use of a students work in your attempt to make it.

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      2. You’re entitled to oppose that. I actually think the use of that excerpt falls under fair use, as the purpose of this blog is informational or educational, and I don’t sell the content of this blog. Under FERPA, you cannot release personal information about a student, and I didn’t. I maintain the student’s anonymity; I don’t disclose the grade he received; I don’t even name the college or course in which he submitted the paper. As far as using the paper as a conceit, I don’t think that’s unconventional. People typically use a specific example to make a larger point. It’s deductive reasoning. The reason I felt that using this student’s paper wouldn’t be “devastating” to him is because I seriously doubt that he peruses black feminist blogs in his free time, or, I daresay, his essay would probably have been better informed. I maintain my intention was not to hurt or humiliate him. Yes, we have all written bad papers. I was an English major, so I actually had several professors use the work of former students as positive and negative examples in my courses; I had professors read excerpts from my classmates’ work and say “don’t do this” or “don’t do what s/he did”; I was also given copies of my peers’ work for workshops and class critiques and never asked to give those copies back. So perhaps your notion of “privileged” student work is a bit overblown? Maybe not. Either way, you clearly commiserate very deeply with this student. I get that. I commiserate with minority adjuncts that have to dig through this stuff on a regular basis. I got this paper and three papers on how the Holocaust was a “good” thing because it taught people not to hate Jews. The assignment I gave was to write an argument about a historical figure, occurrence, event, or trend that prompts your audience to view that figure, occurrence, event, or trend from an unconventional perspective. I never expected my students to try to put “silver linings” on human atrocities because there is only one logically valid way to view human atrocities like the Jewish Holocaust, the Slave Holocaust, or the Indigenous Holocaust. They never should’ve happened, and they should never happen again. That our young people don’t get that is a profound failure on the part of parents and grade school educators. I maintain that. I’m not backing down from what I wrote or how I wrote it.

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      3. “I never expected my students to try to put “silver linings” on human atrocities because there is only one logically valid way to view human atrocities like the Jewish Holocaust, the Slave Holocaust, or the Indigenous Holocaust. They never should’ve happened, and they should never happen again. That our young people don’t get that is a profound failure on the part of parents and grade school educators. I maintain that. I’m not backing down from what I wrote or how I wrote it.”

        I never implied you should.

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      4. I am sorry. I have been sitting on our exchange for several, anxiety filled, days. I was not able to put the pin point on why your post struck me so forcefully. I am scared, very scared. My family is a college family, my father has a DPT, and my mother and sister both have masters, I am working towards a masters. I saw what I perceived as a strike against a system which I, through my family and raising, see as an important part of myself. I thought I saw a teacher taking advantage of a student, a situation which did not exist. As I said I am scared, the world is moving in ways that don’t seem to make sense. President Obama is being replaced by a clown, and I am still in shell shock. The systems and norms which have dominated my life for 30 years have come crashing down. I feel as though I am a man adrift amidst stormy seas with no land in sight. I am sorry, deeply sorry, especially as it has been over the holidays and I had no right to do that to you.

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      5. No, it’s fine. Ethics are important, and you forced me to question mine. I went back, reread my post, and thought long and hard about my motives, logic, and tone. I weighed my obligations as an educator with my feelings and aspirations as a writer. These were not bad things for me to do. Also, you were never disrespectful in how you addressed me. I appreciated that, too. So don’t be anxious anymore, at least about this. This is dialogue. Dialogue is good.

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      6. As a last bit of communication, I recommend David Blight’s, a Yale professor, course on the Civil War and Reconstruction. He does a great job of humanizing all the groups involved in the conflict, and he gives short shift to the “Lost Cause” historians who have polluted the understanding of the history of the civil war period for far to long. I especially liked his mention of J. Longstreet who fought as Lee’s 2nd in command during the war, but then went on to become a Republican and lead African American troops against the KKK and other groups; things can always get better.

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      7. Sorry I should have included a link. The course is free online in both audio and video form. It’s about 20 hours long in total but I enjoyed it while driving.

        http://oyc.yale.edu/history/hist-119

        He has a bunch of books the two I know of are When This Cruel War Is over, and A Slave No More. The first follows a young New England man though his experiences during the war and the second follows a young slave man in his attempts to free himself.

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      8. I am happy to help. We are all in life together, and we only have each other to make it better. That is my belief and my compass.

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      9. If had not been made clear, I am sorry for being an emotionally insensitive douche. I don’t need random discuss messages saying how much of a shit I was. I was wrong and am sorry.

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    2. Matthew Mead, you need to go troll somewhere else, you moron! Goodness, your white privilege is showing. Heaven forbid we out any of you for your covert racist ideology, ideals, and complaints. Sorry, but if I was that teacher, I would have lost my job, told him where to go, told his parents where to go, and now I’m telling you to go to the same place! LOL Be ignorant elsewhere, TROLL

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      1. And, yes, as with most Jewish people in this country, you wouldn’t even know walking past them. Only elite, racist white Anglo-saxons consider them a non-white. All-in-all, they do very well in the U.S. and are NOT marginalized here. I would quit while you’re behind, if I were you. Sounding very ignorant indeed.

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      2. I was not going to reply but I want to your you tube channel and you seem to be a intelligent person who deserves a response.

        I would like to apologize for my snark. I thought you were necro-trolling a post from almost a year ago. Now looking at the time stamps on the comments I realize it was an email issue with regards to Discuss. I got a random email on the 12th of December saying you had posted your above comment. This being the internet, I assumed the worst and responded as such.

        Now I see that your comment was much closer to the relevant date in question. If you read through the comment thread above, I hope it is made clear that I admitted to the most eloquent author of this blog that I had indeed been incorrect in my position and argumentation, aka I stopped digging. I have attempted to delete the offending posts as they serve no purpose other than to upset people who happen upon this post, unfortunately there is not a delete function on this blog. So in short I am sorry if I offended you through my poorly thought out and articulated argument.

        Yes ‘passing’ is a thing and all, but we have a fucking Nazi in the White House; and those clansmen in Charlottesville weren’t screaming anti-Jewish slogans because they love Jews so much. Keep in mind that I am not trying to play the suffering Olympics, I know I am better off than most other groups. I am only trying to say that yea, I am neurotic and fragile because there are FUCKING NAZIS in the White House.

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      3. Yes, there are Nazis running around the White House, in #AmeriKKKa, and I am an elder black man. So, I’ve dealt with this shit all of my life. There have always been supremacists running around; nothing is new in my world. As far as I’m concerned, Jews have it WAY better than we ever will and are not marginalized (even tho get called a name or 2). So, I do not sympathize with what their ancestors went through, and perhaps some elderly who were around during World War II. Not while WE CONTINUE to be oppressed, ignored, imprisoned, murdered, unprivileged, and harassed by calling out racism around the world. Even by Jewish people! So, explain that, if they were considered POC in #AmeriKKKa. They are not. But, the sheer boldness and ignorance of people, these days, are both getting on my last nerve. Hahahahahaha. I accept your apology, and no I didn’t notice the dates. My eyes haven’t been in the best of shape.

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  17. Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s not shocking that ugly BS of that order makes it into essays, especially as the white supremacist “alt-right” moves into the White House.
    Some very badass folks put together a Whiteness History Month at Portland Community College this past April. An entire month of presentations, discussion, dialogue, etc. about the realities we wish that essayist (and so many folks just like him) would see, examine, and start to understand.

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    1. Sounds fascinating. Will they do it again this year? Is there a website or online archive that I could check out? I’m really interested to see what these folks did. Thanks for sharing.

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  18. Well said. One thing I do want to point out though is that June 19 1865 was not the legal end of slavery, it would take the ratification of the 13th Ammendment in December to achieve that.

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