Luis Ramirez and Three of His Murderers

Another Reason Why Some Educators Won’t Talk About Race

Jose Vilson Jose 13 Comments

Luis Ramirez and Three of His Murderers

No, you’re going to get into race at length. Or any other real world issue for that matter. Because you’ve made your blog just as someone in the edublogosphere prescribed: edu-tech here, ed policy there, a response to the latest trend sprinkled in. You’re doing well for yourself and your readers skyrocket. The only controversy you ever touch is the difference between a PC and a Mac. Naturally, you choose PC. You look at others who do so as “brave” and “outside your comfort zone.” Yet, the minute you directly address a social issue close to your heart, you shy away because it veers from the norms of what edu-bloggers do. Then, you get e-mails like this in response to your blog posts:

From: Jeff <…>
Subject: Stinking Mexicans

Message Body:
First things first:  To Jose above who wrote to veronica

“Veronica,” frankly, poverty is faceless. Here’s one link that’ll shut your whole argument down.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_poorest_places_in_the_United_States

Your [sp?] full of shit Jose, and this link only goes to prove that Mexicans are the problem. Think I’m lying? Check out the statistic on that page that says, and I quote, “Of the major locales with the lowest per capita income in the United States, seven are in Texas and all of these have at least a 97% Hispanic population.  I rest my case. Mexicans are pathetic, uneducated, slime balls. It will be too soon if I ever see another one again! They’re not smart, and they have no ethics or morals. I have been robbed and burglarized by Mexicans. I have caught them shoplifting in stores. I have witnessed 6 hit and runs by those people, one my own car. I have even caught one masturbating out in the open behind my house. Mexicans are just one sorry, pathetic group of people that IO don’t care to live with. I think they all should be run out of America.

It’s amazing that the word “post-racial” even exists when I still receive letters and comments like these. I do get that I’m not the only one who gets this type of fan mail, but make no mistake: every time I get a letter like this, I’m reminded of the deep-seated soot at the core of this country. I never underestimate the power of the hatred in people’s hearts, but I am equally disappointed at the apathy of people who work with people.

Same as it ever was.

Jose, who probably won’t respond to this.

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 13

  1. Laura

    Makes me gladder still that we’re dealing with race in my Spanish class as a unit at this very moment. Wonder what my students would have to say about that response.

  2. David Wees

    That’s horrific. The more I dive into the opposition against any kind of sane schooling system, the more I find out what complete and utter morons so many people are.

    Sigh.

  3. talda

    honestly, i believe the one people who think to believe we are in a “post-racial” society are those who have yet to pull their heads out from the sand. until we can all get on the same page on how there are racial inequalities, we won’t be able to even begin to take those first few steps towards being “post-racial.”

  4. Bill Ivey

    Sadly, many of the people who think we’re in a post-racial society could be solid allies if their eyes were opened. That’s one of the things I try to do in my school, with at least some success. I think. I hope!

  5. msladydeborah

    When someone finds “post-racial” America, I would like for them to point out the location for the rest of the society to see because it eludes my vision field.

    The beast of racism is not one that is easily tamed or totally conquered. It continues to be fed a steady diet of ignorance and intolerance based on so many different factors. Efforts to starve it continue to be stymied by attitudes like the ones displayed in the e-mail.

  6. Matt

    We humans continue to discriminate because that’s just how we see things. As Bateson demonstrated at NYU, we can only perceive differences. Sameness is indistinguishable. Unlike machines like computers which can manipulate such data.

  7. MSR

    I think it is easier to percieve differences because they are so foreign/alien. It is natural to unconcsiously be attracted to and enjoy sameness because that is how we naturally form and sustain relationships/friendahips. Something has to be attractive, eg. you like the same music, work on sam floor, etc… .. .and though I do not defend the email above, I think that this person’s perception is colored (pun intended) by negative experiences with one particular ethnicity.

  8. Matt

    I see more programming than experiential data resolution acting out. They’re kids, without experience by definition. They’re drawing it from the simulacra.

  9. jmholland

    The scary thing is that guys like this actually try to put together an argument with points and statistics and stuff. I had a post I tried to run on Inside Pre-K before they shut down and my editor tried to tell me “race doesn’t run”. http://emergentlearner.com/?p=268 You can hear the fear in this guy’s voice.
    Here is that post. Hardly controversial at all. It is the fear of a world where morality is not connected to the color of your skin that scares this guy. If the world isn’t black (brown) and white then he might actually be the evil in the world.

  10. Grace

    First off, I want to thank you for posting this. It is very saddening to see that people are ignorant enough to concieve this notion that because one indivual portrays such behavior that all individuals of such group are just the same. NO. We live in a world where individuals make mistakes, accomplishmenst and much more, but we surround ourselves with those who only see the awful things, and that is not what it should be about. As a current education student, it makes me wonder if parents go on to engrave this same notion into their children. What then, do we as future educators do when the cycle is repeated with children who are just learning how to stirve and survive?

  11. NYC Educator

    I kind of wish the people who ruined our economy would have stuck to shoplifting, or public masturbating. Then we might not find ourselves contending with Scott Walker and similar insidious criminals, and who cares where they came from, as long as we can make them go away.

  12. Post
    Author
    Jose

    Thanks for all the comments.

    In general, I’d like to believe that a few of us know how to handle race conversations and I’ve always maintained that if you’re going to be a racist, which this guy exemplified in his letter, then be all out. Don’t be subtle about it. I don’t think we’re all going to coalesce around one idea of race, particularly because “race” will change faster than we as humans do. Thus, it’s important for us to have open and honest conversations about it, but also ensure that we understand each others’ humanity within that. It’s not one or the other, it’s both.

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