Tuesday, May 25, 2010

We are but expressions of the culture we live in (or, clueless in Atlanta)

I often tell my friends that nobody thinks in a vacuum; we can not separate who we are from those we live among; we understand and express ourselves with language and metaphors that our culture has taught us.

So you can imagine the laugh I had when I read AP: Teacher in trouble after students don Klan robes this morning.  My wife thought I was laughing about the lunacy of the situation, but that's not true.  I found it humorous to imagine the discombobulation (minus the embarrassment maybe) of the students when they came to class and found a note on the door informing them the teacher had been suspended.

I'm going to hazard a guess that they were stunned, and some of them quite likely still have not figured out what's going on.  It was not, I'm sure, the instructor's idea.  Probably the deed was enacted in the plain light of day not so much for ideological reasons, but rather as the result of mundane scheduling concessions.  Couldn't get everybody together on the week-end.  But I'm also sure it never even occurred to them that some bystander's grandfather (yes, that recently!) may have been lynched.  The evidence indicates the individuals in that troupe are almost certainly beneficiaries of white privilege and have no idea of what feelings this kind of image might produce in others. 

But they wouldn't, you see, because of the culture in which they exist.

Maybe I'm getting cynical, though not inconsistent with my age group, but I find it laughably ironic when the reality of one's inherited status slaps one in the face so abruptly.  I'd wager that the teacher (who should be fired, but not destroyed professionally) is feeling somewhat bemused at the moment, yet I hope that she has the grace to see the error of her ways and encourages by example a classroom of impressionable young minds to become a little more aware of their brashness.


No comments: