Guess what’s racist now? Peanut butter!
posted at 3:40 pm on September 11, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
Contrary to misconception, George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter, which has its origins in Inca culture as early as 950 B.C. Maybe if the sticky spread were the brainchild of a black botanist, Verenice Gutierrez wouldn’t be working so hard to brand it as a “white” food—even when it’s not served on white bread.
According to the Portland Tribune, Gutierrez, principal at Harvey Scott K-8 School, in Portland, Ore., will be schooling her teachers and students in the language of “Courageous Conversations.” The ostensible goal of the program is to enable everyone in the racially diverse school to follow the lead of Gutierrez, who, the article notes, “picks up on the subtle language of racism every day.”
And what could be more racist than peanut butter, that food of white privilege? “What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” Gutierrez says by way of explaining the scope of the problem.
“Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.” One is sorely tempted to offer suggestions about what Gutierrez can go eat.
It isn’t clear from the article what the phrase courageous conversation is supposed to mean exactly, but the premise of the program is that “if educators can understand their own ‘white privilege, then they can change their teaching practices to boost minority students’ performance.” Accordingly, on the first day of the school year for staff, the first item of business for teachers was to have a “courageous conversation”—to examine a news article and discuss the “white privilege” it conveys.
Interestingly, the article proceeds to note that the school offers a lunch-time drum class available to black and Hispanic males only. One parent who tried to initiate a courageous conversation with Gutierrez over what the parent termed as “blatant discrimination” against “women, Asians, whites, and Native Americans” found the lines of communication promptly severed.
Gutierrez denies that there is anything discriminatory about a club that caters exclusively to minority males. And if you refuse to accept her point of view, then she has another answer:
When white people do it, it is not a problem, but if it’s for kids of color, then it’s a problem? Break it down for me. That’s your white privilege, and your whiteness.
If Gutierrez can’t see the problem with this reaction, should she really be in charge of a school 26% of which is white?
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