Thursday, January 21, 2010

They Taught This in Schools

I am reading an anthology of early science fiction- Asimov, Clark, and the guys that went before them, as far back as the 30’s and 40’s. While the stories themselves are alright, I have been horrified at the blatant and accepted racism that punctuates the works. Africans, along with all darker-skinned people, are portrayed as obviously less-evolved (evolution also plays a huge role in these early sci-fi stories)- oh, the casual statements are only made here and there, asides, nothing constant or overwhelming- but enough to get the picture across, very clearly.

Reading these have, firstly, been rather annoying (the plots now, 70 years later, are so cliched that it is laughable- though I recognize that these are the writers who pioneered the cliches and made them popular, and at the time they were wildly creative- still, how many times can I read about the superiority of future man and the oddness of Martian creatures?) anyway, it’s been rather annoying, but also sobering, because this is part of the history of racism:

First, under the ethics of Conquering Lesser People and Enslaving Them, some preachers claimed the Bible encouraged this behavior. The people listened, and didn’t bother to do the read the Bible themselves, or perhaps they would have noticed things like this: - and so the conquering and enslaving continued.

Then, when science began to rule the day, some scientists taught that evolution was evidence that darker-skinned people weren’t quite human, and therefore it was perfectly acceptable to kill, rape and enslave. Of course, there was no scientific evidence that lighter-skinned people were more evolved, but nonetheless the people listened, didn’t bother to do the research themselves, and so killing, raping, and enslaving continued.

Then, of course, textbooks followed suit. The court case that brought evolution into the limelight was revolved around a science textbook (Civic Biology) that taught an evolutionary theory of humans, and the Christians went nuts. As far as I know, no one- on either side of the case- bothered to mention that the textbook taught an evolutionary theory of humans which included the ‘fact’ that dark-skinned people were lower on the evolutionary ladder. This is a book that had been popular in schools. Here’s a link to what it says about races:

So the teachers started teaching the inferiority of darker-skinned people, and of course, the students didn’t do the research themselves, just listened to bad teaching, and so the killing, raping, and oppression continued.

They taught this in schools. They wrote about it in books. They portrayed it in movies. They preached it in pulpits. For several generations, up to our grandparents’ time. And we wonder why we still have race issues today.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Road to Hell is Paved With My Good Intentions

School this year has, in some ways, gone really well; and in other ways... eh. Mostly ‘eh’ because of what I felt to be lack of organization and schedule-keeping on my part. So my New Year’s resolution was to get my butt in gear, have clear goals, stick to a flexible schedule, yadda yadda yadda. Starting TODAY.

Then my kids reminded me that we had a dental appointment scheduled for today. Crap.

That was the beginning of our misery on this coldest day of the year (so far).

Around nine in the morning I bent over to shove the pans strewn across the floor back into our kitchen cabinet when I felt cold air blowing from our kitchen vent.


Yup, the annual crap-out of our furnace had occurred, and the house was down to 55 degrees (which amazingly didn’t feel that much colder than our usual 68). So I call David and he offers to come home right away- don’t worry about it, I respond. We’re going to spend the morning at the dentist and then do some shopping. You can fix it when you get home, says I, thinking we’re going to be nice and snugly warm in our dentist’s office. Oh yea.

We get to the dentist’s office around ten, and guess what? His front door decided it didn’t feel like closing anymore, so instead of a snugly warm office we sit and shiver, subjected to an even longer exposure to bad TV since the office PIPES HAD FROZEN and so our dentist was running around like a madman trying to fix it all rather than seeing patients. The dental people were all (understandably) cranky, and three hours later we trudge out of the dentist office (yes, with clean teeth and no bad news- one good thing at least in this day), scorfing down our crushed ham and turkey sandwiches and longingly dreaming of our frigid home. But first, Wal-mart.

My dear brothers and sisters, perhaps you have heard from well-meaning preachers that your souls are in danger of the fires of hell because of your sinful ways. Well, let me tell you the truth: repent, or spend eternity in Wal-mart.

Oh. my. gosh. I shop there because the only viable alternative is Target, and I’m too much of a snob to shop with all THOSE snobs, them and their trendy housewares and cutesy marketing. Give me the world-dominating, employee-mistreating, redneck-loving, overly crowded aisles of Wal-mart any day. Except today. Or tomorrow. Or... well, preferably never.

The good thing is that Wal-mart was the absolute low point of the day- though really, can it get much worse than that? We came home to an abode that was still hovering around 50; made coffee (!); David came home and quickly fixed the furnace, and despite the resurgence of my cold, I managed to whip together a yummy mushroom-leek soup with homemade rolls.

And tomorrow, SCHOOL!