Posted in Blogging

Christopher Columbus was terrible; how is this STILL so hard to grasp?

I found myself checking out the Op-Ed section of the Chelsea Record recently and finding the wildest opinion piece so of course here I am to respond to it because I have So. Many. Thoughts.

First of all, I cannot believe how long I have slept on the Chelsea Record! I’d see it in passing on my visits to local stores but would pick one up maybe once every few months, leaf around, and then forget about. After I started keeping up with City Council meetings on YouTube, and especially The Meeting that had all of Chelsea abuzz, reading the Chelsea Record became the only way to better keep up with the conversations, so I started! And I have yet to be disappointed!! Until… this particular Op-Ed by a Mr. Richard (Rick) Smigielski.

A couple things about Mr. Rick Smigielski that are apparent from reading this article: he is most definitely a straight white man who lives in the U.S. I know this because only someone who has blindly coasted on the backs of other’s oppression would possibly say things so wildly out of touch with reality and others’ experiences. This context isn’t necessary (you will see once I lay out the content of said article) but it is important again to see why he said the things he did.

Last month, a group of Chelsea High School students (it is important to remember that they are students!) went to a City Council meeting and urged the Councilors to vote to remove the Christopher Columbus statue that had been up in town. This has been an incredibly common topic of discussion in towns and cities throughout the United States due to CC’s incredibly racist existence.

I wish I could tell you that Mr. Smigielski doesn’t know better! I want to assume he writes this defense of Lil Chris because he doesn’t know all the harm that man’s actions have caused but he directly references it here when he writes, “True, there are numerous negative aspects of the effects of his voyages. The use of torture and mutilation of people when governing Hispaniola and his use of slavery and the spreading of deadly diseases are recorded as a result of his voyages [emphasis mine]” so this isn’t a result of not knowing. The decision to spend time and to defend a racist says a lot about the writer’s character, values, and priorities. Namely that the writer likely agrees with at least some of the racist’s actions, the writer values the racist as an individual, and that the writer prioritizes the feelings of this (dead, cold, body is literally dust at this point) racist over the lived feelings and experiences of fellow Chelsea residents.

I want to respond more directly to what Mr. Smigielski wrote, so in this section I’ll be including direct quotes from the article.

In the last 40 years liberal, left wing, Neo-Marxist educators have written books, taught and propagandized the American people to believing that Christopher Columbus was an evil man.

The first time I learned that CC was anything more than the guy who directed the Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria and brought us the pilgrims, I was probably about 14. For 14 years of my life I had been learning about CC every year around Thanksgiving and every year. For 14 years I was a fed a sanitized version that said nothing about the violent acts he committed. We were told stories of the peaceful encounters between CC and the Native Americans. Our teachers reminded us constantly that they broke bread together and shared their cultures with one another. If that isn’t propaganda. . . . .

To finally read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History (and not even the full book!! Howard BODIES CC in the prologue I’m so serious) and learn that we had constantly been lied to in our curricula up until that point was bewildering. I didn’t leave that reading / class / year thinking that CC was evil, but I did leave thinking that the people who decided to pretend he wasn’t evil, were.

You see, intentionally erasing history or pretending bad things have never happened in history shows that you know that they’re bad. It is simply violence for a person to decide that they and they alone are entitled to both sides of a story. In only giving us the good, teachers never allowed us to come to our own conclusions about this man. They were giving us one and one way to think about him and his impact on this stolen land.

The Columbian Exchange brought to the Americas the coffee bean, citrus fruits, onions, grains such as rice, wheat and oats, and Livestock such as pigs, the horse, cattle and sheep, and yes, diseases as well.

I just have a quick question on this one:

What do you think is more harmful: not knowing what an orange is or contracting smallpox from a foreigner who showed up and thinks he owns the place?

Mr. Smigielski uses this paragraph to highlight all the wonderful things CC has made possible for the Americas (and he goes on to talk about the world, too). They’re all factual, of course! But I promise that none of the students who came into the City Council meeting that day were upset because we can buy onions at Market Basket. I love oatmeal just as much as the next person don’t want a statue of a racist in my city simply because he advanced trade at the time.

When someone says, “XYZ person does not deserve a statue in our city due to their racist and oppressive lifestyle” the response should not be a laundry list of all the good things they’ve done. When someone flips you off in traffic, the response isn’t “well! they ate their vegetables today!” because that has literally nothing to do with the topic at hand! This discussion isn’t and never was about his positive achievements*.

*Said achievements that are not his singular doing. Said achievements would not have been impossible without him, probably just staggered throughout time and with a little less deadly force most likely

But probably the most important idea brought to us through the Columbian Exchange was the future path and idea of a new way of governing with the concept of freedom and liberty and the formation of our Constitution and the creation of the United States of America, the greatest most successful nation in history.

The idea that the United States… THESE United States… are what’s being called “the greatest most successful nation in history” simply needs its own section just so I can add a reaction meme. (If you’re over the age of 70, a reaction meme is basically a picture)

“the USA is the greatest most successful nation in history”

The posting went live this month and you’re at least 70 so you’ve had at least that many years of experience in this great and successful nation where:

  • women make less money than men in the exact same job, doing the exact same thing, and probably getting sexually harassed or ostracized because of their gender
  • you cannot raise a family on minimum wage
  • health care is tied to employment (a “work-or-die” mentality shouldn’t need to be the case for the greatest most successful nation in history but that’s just me)
  • little to no regulation on the cost of prescription drugs or treatments that people need to stay alive, forcing people to choose because their prescribed medication or keeping the lights on
  • the rich continue to get rich on the backs of the poor, even in a pandemic
  • over half a million people died in this nation due to piss poor government response to the virus
  • voter suppression exists to this day !
  • there are enough homes / buildings in this country to house everyone and yet we have a major houseless population AND to add insult to injury we intentionally keep houseless people out of sight via uncomfortable (and usually unsightly) urban design practices
  • people who have been in US cages: innocent people who cannot afford bail, people (and their children) fleeing their home countries for a modicum of safety, Japanese people and people of Japanese descent, etc
  • hate crimes all the way down
  • the cost of higher education continues to rise while the quality of the education doesn’t improve (the quality of college sports coaches’ cars improves annually along with tuition rates! interesting!)
  • related, we spend more on military than we do for education or pretty much anything else
  • children are forced to pay for food at a place where they’re required by law to be at for 6+ hours per day, regardless of if their families can afford it or not (*save for specific schools, grants, districts that have made steps to combat this. regardless it is not enough)
  • to this day we still have cases going in front of judges essentially asking if it’s okay to discriminate against people (see: bathroom law for trans people; Black girls wearing their natural hair in school; selling wedding cakes to gay couples, kneeling on a man’s neck for 8 straight minutes, etc)
  • our incarceration rate is the highest in the world, so yeah i guess we are successful at that !!

This nation is a dumpster fire so PLEASE lend me your rose colored glasses because I too want to look around and think of this place as “the greatest most successful nation in history”. (Y’all see why Mr. Smigielski’s race was important earlier?)

Just an editing note, from writer to writer: instead of saying that the Columbian Exchange brought us “a new way of governing” you could say it “de-legitimatized any government structures that didn’t align with European elites, regardless of how well they were working and for how long they had been in place” -> it gets the same idea across but with actual information rather than the rosier view you decided to give it!

 If a group in power determines to disqualify a historical figure based on its own definition of a social norm and then disapprove practices of the past social norm then we, as a society, will not have any figures to commemorate for a source of inspiration. 

First of all: *stares in Colonized*

Secondly: what exactly about CC is inspiring to you? Quickly….

What is the social norm that you’re referring to? Commemorating racists? Yeah, we don’t do that anymore, keep up x

If you need figures to commemorate you can start with the Massa-adchu-es-et and Pawtucket leaders on whose land you and I both live.

I’m getting tired and y’all are getting The Point so let me know if you want me to continue and do a Part 2!! Otherwise, keep fighting the good fight my sweet pals ❤ don’t let ANYONE gaslight u about CC xoxo

Posted in Blogging, Linguistics

Every Single Thing Wrong With Education: a brief primer

At the start of this semester I was asked, “if you were named Secretary of Education tomorrow, what would you do?” and I accidentally entered a state of paralysis because my answer is simply: everything. As a teacher for the past four years and having worked in education in other capacities for just as long, I’ve collected my list of qualms with education as a whole. I’m writing this as an extension of the answer I gave in class that night, an answer that was by no means holistic or well-thought-out.

This year, working part time has shown me how many issues with teaching could be solved by simply having smaller class sizes or fewer responsibilities as educators. Being able to focus on the smallest number of students allows teachers the opportunity to build positive relationships with each student and notice trends much sooner. We can also solve this problem by incorporating more TAs in the classroom. An aide can help with tasks such as taking attendance, running small pull-out support groups, distributing materials, relieving the teacher in emergencies, an on-site support in case of a substitute, and other tasks that take up space in the primary teacher’s mind on top of content and pedagogy. In some schools, a TA might even be an older student in their final year who is completing an internship of sort and using this a hands-on experience out of genuine desire and interest. This could be another way to further develop community: the desire to become a role model in the classroom might inspire students in ways Pep Rally’s don’t usually. We can also solve this problem by hiring more teachers: raise the status and importance of teaching, reduce the burden of the career, pay educators more, remove the financially burdensome barriers to licensure, and creating more equitable community to classroom pathways.

Grades gotta go. Standards based all the way baby! I’ve taken to writing rubrics at the bottom of all of my formative assessments (classwork, homework, etc) and simply giving students a completion grade. With the pandemic, I’ve done away with late grades entirely. If you turned it in you turned it in. During in-person school years I’ve created separate sections in the gradebook for late vs on-time work. Personally, as a very frazzled individual, I found it hard to keep up with the bean-counting necessary to have accurate submission times recorded for each student. I’d love to read more about where and how we can teach timeliness and keep students fairly in sync while still honoring students personal work styles and giving them the flexibility and guidance to be the best students they can be. Students should be allowed to reassess for things the same way they would likely be given a second chance on their driving tests, most standardized exams, and many realms of life.

More community. Community building is probably at the center of your school’s mission statement or guiding principles or ideologies but what does that look like inside your school’s halls? It’s amazing the type of projects that a cohort based system are able to work on and come up with. If students, baseline, felt more safe and understood within school walls, this nebulous “community” may be easier to come by. Educators, counselors, admin, students, families, everyone needs to believe in the school and in their students/selves. We can build community around the fact that we care about these students and their educations and are doing everything in our power to make sure they’re supported in and through it. Everyone also needs to be educated on how to manage their emotions and express themselves in manners most aligned with their authentic selves. This would allow for positive relationships to flourish and community to be underscored in this setting. I would also like to see schools have more of a symbiotic relationship with the immediate neighborhood, members, and small local businesses.

Food needs to be free for all students point-blank period. Speaking of food, with proper practice with cleaning and being respectful of our spaces, students should be able to eat unobtrusive food freely. Think of the number of times in the day you as an adult, are likely to meander on over to the pantry and graze? So why do we not allow even a crumb of food in the classroom? We should give students the opportunity to practice and model cleanliness if that’s our biggest issue. When people are forbidden from doing something, they do it sneakily. We need to be working with students, considering why and how our long-standing rules are in place, and figuring out the best relational compromises to keep students learning, safe, and healthy. We can spend several minutes of every class reminding students of the “no food” policy or we can accept that bodies operate how they operate and sometimes a lil snack is less distracting than hunger or hunger-induced apathy.

Revaluing of alternate post-secondary paths. Vocational school or going straight to working shouldn’t be taboo! These are all valid, viable, and worthy of support in the same way that college-bound students get supported for their plans. When refocusing on all post-secondary paths rather than just college, we will have to sit back and reevaluate which “core courses” are actually necessary, to what degree, and really understand what we’re asking students to internalize and learn. It would allow more room for non-traditional classes such as Executive Functioning or SEL or Financial Literacy or Sexual Wellness, or Gardening. These courses are likewise able to make a person more well-rounded and I would have found, at minimum, just as useful as Pre-Calculus.

What are some things that grind your gears about K-12 education in the US? Big or little, I’m really curious!

Posted in Blogging

Is Virtue Signalling Really All That Bad?

I was listening to this week’s episode of Sibling Rivalry (The One About Wokeness) and Bob the Drag Queen and Monet X Change were talking about virtue signalling.

Bob says it’s okay because it shows safety in whatever establishment that you’re at. Which I get.

Monet cites a Kamala event that shows that virtue signalling could be nefarious. Which I also get

I don’t remember which Kamala event that Monet was referencing and if I stop to look it up right now I will simply never get this post out so I found a different Kamala event instead: Kamala did CNN’s LGBTQ Town Hall in fall 2019 and when she introduced herself with Cuomo, she included her pronouns (“she/her/hers”) while introducing herself. To me, that screams virtue signalling because it is not consistent with her everyday behaviors (that we see constantly because she is a public figure). She was aware of her audience and aware that she could show this small token to demonstrate that she knows the first thing about LGBTQ issues. Does her baseline understanding and demonstration not stand for something?

Deray McKesson on his interview with Kid Fury and Crissle West on The Read TV mentioned enjoying seeing Pride merchandise because it still shows some level of growing awareness and inclusion.

Around 9:30 he starts his discussion on queer representation. He discusses LGBTQ symbolism is now starting to be seen like “it’s a normal thing, not an aberration”

On pride merchandise, which I consider to be virtue signalling on behalf of a company rather than a person at times, Deray has another opinion: “People make fun of all the commidifying pride but like I wish I grew up in Baltimore seeing people wearing the pride flag. That would have symbolized something to me that I never saw any of that stuff in the city when I was growing up.”

The issue with virtue-signalling is that the expectations of what people are meant to do in order to wear XYZ badge of honor is fairly high.

It is one thing to lie and manipulate people. There have been too many instances of people using virtue signalling as a means of lying to and manipulating people. But what about the people who don’t even believe that they’re lying?

For example, if a celebrity puts up a selfie and says “black lives matter” in the caption, they get dogged
for usurping the movement for their own gain,
for detracting from the ~real~ organizers,
for muddling the message.
why are we gatekeeping every single individual who believes in this sentiment? Can we not bring them inside the club and shape their views there?

I think virtue signalling is important because it is showing this massive shift in mass awareness of LGBT issues. It’s not “you can’t say BLM and not RT a gofundme as well” like tbh they can? and maybe they might? and maybe the thought never crossed their mind? people grow and change and learn every single day and have behaviors that simply come from ignorance.

This is a hard realization because I never want to defend a celebrity especially ones that I consistently do pretty stupid/capitalist things, but I think we’re being a little too excessive in our expectations. I don’t do half the things celebrities are demanded to go with regards to how I present my views on social issues but i definitely virtue signal. i need to virtue signal in order to find the networks i want to be in.

Even within the LGBTQ community and as someone who is part of a good 3 marginalized groups here in the U.S. I still don’t feel “woke” at all– I’m constantly asking myself:

is it considered outing someone if you say “my friend xxxx, oh wait that’s their deadname, i mean’t yyyy”?

is it okay to identify is HoH even though I have never considered myself a member of that culture, but feel my experiences are aligned enough?

is it really anti-Black/anti-feminist of me to call Kamala by her first name and Cuomo by his last name?

we need to expand the definitions of activism and people who can be “in the club” and get to wear the badge so that we can compassionately teach more of the intricacies of club involvement. that being said virtue signalling is pretty important. profit-based marketing that preys on people looking for virtue signals from brands they thought they could believe in…. yikes, for sure, but that’s a different issue. there’s no way an entire company / entity / business even has the same understanding of xyz issues that they’re slapping a rainbow flag on so like ???

Posted in The Here and Now

Welcome to 2021: Where the days are made up and the weeks don’t matter

i made a 6 day spread starting on wednesday bc i have realised that None Of It Matters– what functional use do i have for being able to see all 7 days at once? in this economy? no way. i always way prefer having space for stickers and white space and the ability to include everything i DO need rather than trying to cram 7 days, or stretch 5 days.

it reminded me that any DIY planning style is always going to be super individual and even then constantly ready to change to fit my life as it ebbs and flows. i think i find it really neat to be able to do something just for me and no one else simply because i like it or find it helpful. i’m grateful for that autonomy.

anyway i got these cute fun stickers at Michael’s the other day! my sweet pals got me a gift card for my birthday and i thought i lost it (oops) but when i found it i drove straight to Michael’s so i wouldn’t have a chance to lose it again ! this pack of stickers had many astrology themes and is purple and gold based so i LOVE it! i also got a floral pack, to no one’s surprise.

what new types of bullet journalling have you done since The Quar started?