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Ok to be clear, it's not peanut butter sandwiches themselves. But supposedly mentioning them as an example of american food is considered racist by some principal in Oregon.

Another example of PC gone amuck. I hate the way these politically correct know it alls really make a caricature of the progressive movement I identify with. THere's not much to say. Let's get started with the articleat hand.

But in conjunction with recent equity training in local Portland schools, one principal is raising questions about the mention of the sandwich, arguing it has broader implications about race, the Portland Tribune reports.

The sandwich was reportedly mentioned in a lesson plan last year. Verenice Gutierrez from the Harvey Scott K-8 School used it as an example of a subtle form of racism in language, according to the report.

“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” Gutierrez said, according to the Tribune. “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.”

Say what? My family eats a bunch of curries. We have Naans too. I am proud of the Indian food my family makes from time to time. But guess what. I have eaten my fair share of sandwiches as a kid, and now, as an adult, just like many other Americans. I would certainly not think of a chicken curry naan wrap as "american" . There is no need to make me feel assimilated by pandering to me. Just stop asking me what my "nationality" is when you mean ethnicity or ancestral origin or whatever.  

You know, McDonalds is incorporating burritos as a regular breakfast item.  Chipotle is as mainstream as Popeye's. One doesn't need a minister of assimilation to dictate we have chains like Chipotle. It happens naturally. It's fine to include tortillas into a lesson plan if the teacher thinks of it naturally. Assimilation happens both ways.  There is no need to force it. To be so didactic makes you realize why our schools are in trouble.

The article I linked to is based on this itemthat showed up in the Portland Tribune. Here are more excerpts:

Chuck Barber, who also offers boys’ drum corps at Vernon and Faubion schools in Northeast Portland, approached Gutierrez last year to start up a lunch-time drum class for black and Latino boys once a week. This year, it’ll expand to two classes a week, to accommodate new boys as well as those with experience.

At least one parent has a problem with the the class, saying it amounts to “blatant discrimination and equity of women, Asians, whites and Native Americans.”

“This ‘club’ was approved by the administration, and any girls who complained were brushed off and it was not addressed,” the parent wrote anonymously.

Gutierrez denies that any students were turned away from the drum corps, and vehemently rejects any suggestion that it is discrimination to offer a club catering to minority boys.

“When white people do it, it is not a problem, but if it’s for kids of color, then it’s a problem?” says Gutierrez, 40, an El Paso, Texas, native whose parents were Mexican immigrants. “Break it down for me. That’s your white privilege, and your whiteness.”

First of all, as long as the club is not rejecting white and asians, I see no problem with it. So, I am not going to comment on this piece as part of the complaints could be coming from white parents who feel that they should not assimilate into the majority demographic of that school district. So I won't bash Gutierrez on this one if that's the case. Still, she has no business using words like "That's your white privilege and your whiteness". That is no freaking way for a Principal to communicate.

Reading that article, that lady misses the point. A lot of Asians have assimilated just fine and do not get bent out of shape by some mainstream american references. A lot of asian and Indian americans still maintain their own traditions. I do admit Hispanics are a differnt ballgame as there are alot more of them and so some of their cultural influences will win out in the assimilation mix compared to indian and chinese influences. But that should happen organically and not forced by some public school employee. She mentions Somalis too in her example , so she is being clear that she is willing to pander to every tiny niche group out there, and cannot pass it off as merely recognizing the reality of hispanic influence in american culture.

You know what would help a poor minority kid? Better home life. Better peer group serving as role models for these kids(Indian Americans just dont have a natural affinity to medicine or engineering, they just notice their relatives are in those professions, and we have some goals to compare to, which is a natural part of human development).  Maybe minority kids aware of minority role models in educational professions and the hurdles they faced go a long way in letting them relate to way out of their predicament. Lobby for more education dollars so kids can get a safe haven from any troubled home life. There are thing we can do as a society. let's not drop the ball with such idiotic tangents.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sandwiches are American? (8+ / 0-)

    Yes, little known fact that the Earl of Sandwich hailed from Salt Lake City, Utah.

    Mitt Romney actually is what Republicans pretended John Kerry was. - Jed Lewison

    by MasterKey on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 09:45:24 PM PDT

  •  I actually find the principal's remark offensive (11+ / 0-)

    in this context:

    “What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” Gutierrez said, according to the Tribune. “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.”
    Is she insinuating that people of colour - or people who eat foods of non-British ethnic origin - are not American? Because that is racist.

    Now, there is a reasonably good point to be made that if you're teaching a class full of immigrants (say, you're an ESL teacher, or perhaps you teach in a school in a predominantly-immigrant neighbourhood) it's probably a good idea to evaluate potential cultural bias in your examples. A class full of first- or second-generation Somali, Chinese, or German immigrants might not fully appreciate the point you're trying to convey with your PBJ reference.

    But that's not a racism issue. That's simple ethnocentrism, which, as any anthropologist can tell you, is one of the few cultural universals. Ethnocentrism in itself is probably morally-neutral, but needs to be part of your conscious awareness when you're interacting with people of different cultures.

    What's racist is implying that the people who don't get your cultural references aren't American.

    "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

    by kyril on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 10:40:36 PM PDT

    •  Thanks, kyril ~ (5+ / 0-)

      I think you're spot-on here.

      Of course, I would argue that all cultures have some version of the sandwich or the wrap.  What are Vietnamese spring rolls, but wraps?  What is a quesadilla, but a Mexican grilled cheese sandwich?  What are samosas, but the tastier, spicier (and almost certainly more ancient) Indian version of a British/Cornish pastie or an Italian stromboli?  [IOW, stuff baked or fried within a breading or crust.]

      And nobody can tell me that a pita wrapped around felafel with salad stuff and sauce is NOT a Mideastern sandwich.  Swap out the felafel for meat, it's a gyro.

      PB&J may be typically American, and I still adore them.  But they are only one variant on a universal theme of "stuff wrapped in bread."

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 11:09:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually... (5+ / 0-)

        If you swap out the felafel for meat, you get what's known in Turkey as a doner kebab and in Greece as a gyro.  In other Mideastern countries it's known as shawarma.  
        Exception:  if you replace felafel with pork, your sandwich will not sell well in the Middle East; your dish will probably be called souvlaki.  

        To complete the circle, substitute marinated pork on the rotisserie, and you get a taco al pastor.  These are typically served on tortillas.

        Still, to say that "Mexicans do not eat sandwiches" is the height of ignorance.

        "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

        by Yamaneko2 on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 11:38:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  LOL -- (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, commonmass, exlrrp, Calamity Jean

          I bow to your superior knowledge of sandwiches.

          Nevertheless, I abide by my major point: the sandwich/wrap is a universal food despite the slight differences among cultures.

          To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

          by Youffraita on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 11:42:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Torta: King of sandwiches! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, commonmass

      Seriously, it's a bolillo (roll) split and filled with a bunch of savory, yummy ingredients.  For example, the local Mexican bakery serves a killer torta with ham, white cheese, onions, jalapeños, mayonnaise and pureed navy beans.  

      "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

      by Yamaneko2 on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 11:30:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oregon has it's own Reverend Moon (4+ / 0-)

    And his name is Bob Pamplin. He puts out a shitty rag called The Portland Tribune. And a ton of other local papers.

    The Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/....

    Better get back to the web. The internet isn't going to surf itself.

    by RodSerling on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 11:30:59 PM PDT

  •  An American Invented Peanut Butter (7+ / 0-)

    It was an American, George Washington Carver, who invented peanut butter, and as such it is an All-American Food!
    Peanuts are African, however. It is only the ground paste of the peanut that is uniquely American. Because it took an American to figure out how to grind the peanut.
    Peanut butter is also good with pita, but torta or nan? No. Never.
    By the way, Carver invented peanut butter as a way to get rid of peanuts.

    The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet. Mark Twain

    by AWhitneyBrown on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 11:53:18 PM PDT

  •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

    I think you miss the principal's point (intentionally or not, I'm not sure).  And I think you're incredibly rude regarding the principal.  Privilege, especially related to race and ethnicity, exists in this country.  And if someone in charge finally wants to point that out - it should be no problem.

    To me, it seemed as though the principal is trying not to take away anyone's "American-ness" but to display microaggressions and cultural assumptions about white identity and culture.  Why is that a bad thing - to make people aware that different cultures experience different things?  

    To me, it would be worst to assume and imply that what's normal for one family who is white is normal for another family.  THAT'S assimilation.

    It's like watching an unknown winning a boxing match vs. the world champ and asking him halfway why he didn't knock his opponent out in the first round.

    by bsmcneil on Sun Sep 16, 2012 at 03:51:15 AM PDT

    •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

      Here, I'll be ruder. Claiming that referring to peanut butter is racist or indicative of white privilege is stupid and racist in itself.
        This is, after all, the USA. It is unreasonable to expect that children of immigrants can be protected against any reference to the eating habits of the rest of the population.

  •  Some people are obsessesed with race (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, IndyReader

    It's everywhere they look.  No matter how large or small there is something racist in everything.   I've met people that dedicate their lives to finding racism even where it doesn't exist.  It's almost a religion to them and the teacher in this article sounds like one of those people.

    To you, I'm an atheist. To God, I'm the loyal opposition.” ― Woody Allen

    by soros on Sun Sep 16, 2012 at 04:30:43 AM PDT

  •  Living in Texas, there's lots of assimilation: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pravin, Youffraita

    assimilation of Latino culture by whites. I love the cognitive dissonance of the idea of a bunch of anti-immigrant whites discussing immigration politics while scarfing down enchiladas and burritos* at a Mexican restaurant in a Houston suburb.

    *To be fair, "Mexican" food as typically found in Texas is probably better called "Tejano" food. It is a pretty specific cuisine found in the borderlands on both sides of the Rio Grande.

    I know what Mitt Romney is hiding: Mitt Romney. equalitymaine.org

    by commonmass on Sun Sep 16, 2012 at 05:21:49 AM PDT

    •  Tejano food (0+ / 0-)

      would still have been better/more authentic than the "Mexican" food available almost everywhere from PA to NYC when I was a young adult.

      (Immigrants from Puebla, among other places, have opened delicious taquerias, etc., in the decades since, so the situation has improved mightily...but is still not as good as where you are.)

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Sun Sep 16, 2012 at 11:51:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In all the time Ive lived in Oregon (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a a

    this is the first time I ever heard of the Portland Tribune

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Sun Sep 16, 2012 at 05:50:22 AM PDT

    •  Portland Tribune is some free paper (0+ / 0-)

      I had no idea what it was either. I just initially read the Huffington Post article and decided to link to the source of it which was the Portland Tribune.

      Usually the free papers are liberal, but in this csae it is possible it maybe conservative s the guy owns some Christian radio station.

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