Teaching and learning DEI, My Experience

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My wife and I have a kid in college, and she’s taking the mandatory Diversity class. The teacher is an older black woman (not sure if she’s African American, Jamaican American, Polynesian American, or other). Having spent almost all day every day this year researching and writing about Critical Race Theory and Reparations for Slavery, I had certain expectations of the class. Of course, on day one the teacher flat out said that they will not be teaching Critical Race Theory, but the homework and required reading is full of it. That is to say, the required reading teaches certain things and declares them to be truths regardless of how illogical or flat-out stupid these things may be.

The first homework assignment required watching a 5-10minute video set in Papua, New Guinea. In a tall office building, a few guys got together and came up with an idea. It’s sort of like old-school Vaudeville was in the US. The guys wrote little plays with jokes, dancing, singing, and more. The teacher and the required reading had a problem with this. The truth is these little bits of entertainment were little more than live-action commercials, where roving, modern minstrels would tow a trailer out to remote areas and do their advertisement shows for the locals. The phrasing of the class questions made it clear that these minstrels doing live-action Coke commercials for tribesmen were in line with some sort of cultural holocaust.

No joke, reading the literature, hearing the commentary on the video, and reading the homework questions, they made this bs little flatbed trailer with a couple of people in the middle of a remote field in Papua New Guinea, akin to Conquistadors, the British Army marching into a colony, or NAZIs. With all the problems in the world, 8 billion people -most of whom don’t know how to read, have running water, and live far far below the poverty line, this is the problem they were REALLY upset about. Close to nuclear war? Doesn’t matter as long as there are two with a bottle of Coke surrounded by jungle tribesmen in New Guinea. The rhetoric was over the top, and boundless.

The sin that offended the scholars so badly was that greedy imperialists were taking advantage of these tribes. For 9000 years the tribes had lived by foraging in the meanest jungle on the planet. They learned to sustain themselves by growing sweet potatoes, and when they needed to trade with other tribes, they traded in clam shells and pigs. Along comes these Coke capitalists, and now the peaceful, primitive tribes who have lived as one with planet Earth since the last ice age, now they’re being corrupted by the economic imperialists; their resources are somehow stolen by corporate imperialists.

I was the wrong person to ask for help with homework that night. Truth be told, I shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near this class (but God help me I want to attend it just once!). The homework asked about the effect of introducing capitalism and modernity to these ancient peoples. The answer they were looking for was that the people who knew little more about life than how to plant a sweet potato were better off left alone, pure, and uncontaminated by the modern world. I explained how that was the answer they wanted, and then I explained further why it was wrong.

Huge crowds were gathering for these little minstrel shows. Thousands of people made their way through the triple canopy jungle, over steep mountains, and across rushing rivers just to watch some guy drink a bottle of coke all at once. He’d finish, burp, and thousands- maybe tens of thousands of people shown in the video would laugh until they cried. I pointed out the enjoyment that these people were getting from the ad shows. I explained how someone in that crowd might look at the bottle, see the symbols, on it, and be inspired to learn to read.

In the palm of a human hand, one can hold all of humanity’s knowledge. Knowing how to read a book, a library, or a smartphone, or how to surf the internet…. I like to think that might enrich someone’s life more than the ins and outs of planting sweet potatoes. Maybe they would watch these little shows and learn more about comedy, and funny stories, and their culture would grow? Maybe they’d just have a Coke and a smile. Once upon a time that wasn’t a bad thing at all. Today, the unchecked spread and consumption of soda pop is so dangerous that college students have to pay thousands of dollars for a class to tell them the evils of bubbly imperialist blood sugar. The textbook, video, and teacher clearly had an unhealthy issue with the unhealthy issue.

The Coke people wanted to sell Coke and other products, so the tribesmen would have to trade some of their goods for cash. The homework really hated this. They asked what effect having to start using cash would have on their culture. The answer they wanted was of course that “cash kills culture”/we should all be one big collective. The logic was flawed, and I pointed this out: having to learn to use cash didn’t mean they couldn’t still use seashells and pigs. Adding cash to their lives would be like adding grapes as a new form of currency for trading with the swamp tribes, or oranges as currency for dealing with the tribes of fishermen. We carry dollars, pesos, euros, and more, and our credit cards can even automatically switch between most currencies.

The homework also asked about language. OMG. Would having to learn to understand the basics of another language make the tribesman lose their identity? If one were to learn a different language, then how would they determine what their identity was? Surely such a dangerous identity crisis would lead to a spike in sweet potato people’s suicide, right? Wouldn’t multiple languages kill their whole culture like in Western Europe (Er, uh, sorry, bad example)? What if through new languages they came to learn about other religions? Or history? Or science? Or different philosophies? Dogs and cats living together?!

Again, this isn’t my homework assignment. I was supposed to be helping our daughter find the correct answers from the video and the reading. I tried to explain that what the teacher wanted was to show that a person is whatever cultural identity they feel is most like them (except when it comes to skin tone. People who are not Caucasian are identified by their skin tone per the reading). The teacher wanted the students to know that there are a zillion different cultures out there, but one way or the other a person is identified by what culture they identify with/choose to follow (or more importantly the color of their skin). It’s identity, identity, identity. Most importantly, that identity should not be infringed upon or forced to change. It’s okay if a culture changes on its own, but if an outside influence makes it change, that’s called oppression.

Having done my due diligence to explain what the scholars clearly wanted to be pulled from the reading and the video, I thought that it was my obligation to also teach what is right and what the racist scholars living in academia’s bong bubbles were dreaming up. The reality is that we are individuals. We can be part of a culture or not, but it’s foolish to follow a culture rather than learn to be your own person first and foremost. People should be judged by their character, not their tribe, or heritage, their stereotype, nationality, or the color of their skin.

It was getting late, and I was getting a little ranty and ravy. I told her that if the teacher disagreed that the running dog lackeys of the capitalist Coke conspiracy of burps, jokes, dancing, and skits weren’t destroying the 9000-year-old grand culture of the sweet potato jungle people, then she should remember that no one is forcing them to drink Coke or buy laundry detergent or whatever was being sold. The people still had free will, and the only real risk to the rest of the world was if the roving Vaudeville van pulled up to the wrong valley of tribesmen and started selling ketchup. THAT would be a risk to innumerable cultures as they tried to meet and trade goods and ideas with the tribesman.

Our daughter rolled her eyes, closed em, sighed, and asked, “Why Dad? Why ketchup?”

My wife, who had been watching the entire time braced herself-not knowing specifically why but knowing that she should.

“Because Papua New Guinea is not only home to sweet potato jungle people, but also some of the last remaining tribes of cannibals, and if they learned about ketchup, it might be the last time any other culture could meet them and make it out to tell others.”

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You’re gonna love this, Scott. Not everyone loves diversity.

“Inside chilling case of American missionary John Allen Chau, 26, who was killed in a hail of ARROWS by Indigenous tribe as he made desperate attempt to join their reclusive community so he could teach them about Jesus”

Inside chilling case of American missionary John Allen Chau, 26, who was killed in a hail of ARROWS by Indigenous tribe as he made desperate attempt to join their reclusive community so he could teach them about Jesus | Daily Mail Online

Last edited 7 months ago by DrJohn

If memory recalls correctly, he was only the latest to have tried to visit the tribe. There were several other occasions, and few met with survival.

Of course, the rest of the story is that the Coca Cola company took profits from their unhealthy products, donated $50K to BLM, which promoted terrorism, antisemitism and war in the Middle East with Israel, and may ultimately lead to WWIII. “Try to be less white” is Coke’s unofficial slogan. Great company.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I had any of their products.

I wonder if the video people just preferred Pepsi products

People don’t understand why there was a tribe of cannibals on Papua, New Guinea.
There were originally five tribes, distributed so that four controlled all of the ocean coastal area and one was landlocked.
Eventually the landlocked tribe had no more edible birds or animals …. at all.
They still could not access the ocean to fish, so they warred with those other tribes and ATE their captives.
Later, still, they ate their own dead, whether by age, illness or accident.
These cannibals are the first humans to suffer from prion disease which they called Kuru (the falling down disease.)
They even ate those people who died from Kuru.
A Scandinavian neuro researcher smuggled the brians of many who died of Kuru to the states and studied Kuru in Virginia.
He couldn’t rent facilities for long term research, so, once his time was up he let many animals infected with Kuru go free or be sold back to goat and sheep ranches.
We used to be able to by mutton in stores but after this researcher caused “scrapie” to get into our sheep population we outlawed mutton and can only sell lamb for meat in the USA.
Lovely.


Last edited 7 months ago by Nan G

OMG! I love it! I especially loved the last ketchup comment! Thank you!

Anyone that worked for a corporation probably underwent some sort of “diversity training”. Mine was somewhat different from this “college” course. It taught us how to get the job done while respecting each person’s individual culture. Somehow, that seemed a bit more useful and considerate than basically telling someone to look at their hand and if the color of the palm matches the color of the back of the hand, you are a piece of shit.