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Valley Views: Moi? In a fight? Let's learn from race in history, not get upset by it

Now, I usually mind my own business when I overhear a conversation, but this wasn't the case last week in the swimming pool at the YMCA waiting for my water aerobics class to begin. I was slowly warming up and idly listening to a conversation between a man and woman treading water nearby. I wouldn't say I "know" them but they, too, are regulars.

Then I heard her ask him: "What is this 'critical race theory?'"

And he began to reply: "It teaches kids that from the time they are born that they are guilty."

I actually felt my blood boil at what I considered a gross misinterpretation. I charged through the 10 feet of water that were separating us.

"Wait! Wait!" I said. "That's not what it is at all."

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He turned toward me and firmly stated, "You may have your opinion but I am talking."

For a second I actually thought it might escalate into a shouting match, something entirely out of my comfort zone. So I backed off and chose an exercise spot a bit distant as the class began. But I could hear the rest of his answer, an extremely negative and incorrect account of critical race theory as I understand it.

I was upset. Which actually was good for my energy level as I jogged and kicked and vigorously pushed and pulled the water-resistant dumbbells. And I thought during the entire class about what had just happened.

This was a man I'd spoken to many times in the past. He and his wife had recently taken a scuba diving trip to Tahiti, and I'd told him about my diving experiences in the Red Sea many years ago. We'd also commented about the teachers and the classes as they resumed earlier this year.

And, although the Y should not be a place for political discussion, I'd heard him expound during the recall election on how he was all for it and go on to criticize Gov. Gavin Newsom. Which was dismaying but had not sent me into a fury.

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Now, I had 45 minutes of exercise time to consider what made me so angry that I had thrust myself into their conversation. What had I hoped to gain from it? And now what, if anything, should I do? I made my decision.

When class was over, as everyone dried off and packed up, I grabbed my belongings and approached the guy.

"Excuse me," I said, and he looked up. "I want to tell you I am sorry."

He smiled slightly and mumbled something like, "That's OK."

"I should not have interrupted you," I continued. "And I am sure we have things in common that we can agree on."

I paused.

"We both like water aerobics," I said.

Then he laughed pleasantly. I responded in kind and walked away.

My understanding of critical race theory (CRT) is that it includes the lives of Black residents in American history and the impact of slavery from the beginning. This sounds quite different from my education in the 1950s. It was relatively recently, upon reading Jill Lepore's "These Truths: The History of the United States," that I received a broader view of our nation's founding and early years.

But I am aware of the great divide in America of facts and alternative facts so I went to good old Merriam-Webster -- online because it had to be up to date -- and found the following definition:

Critical race theory: "a group of concepts (such as the idea that race is a sociological rather than biological designation, and that racism pervades society and is fostered and perpetuated by the legal system) used for examining the relationship between race and the laws and legal institutions of a country and especially the United States."

Learning the complete history of our country and its institutions and how and why laws were passed sounds like the definition of education to me. And I don't feel any guilt due to the actions of my ancestors, only sadness for the injustices.

These issues, historical and current, sound like a good thing to explore and discuss -- without interrupting each other -- so we can move forward in a better way.

Editor's note: Dolores Fox Ciardelli is Tri-Valley Life editor for the Pleasanton Weekly. Her column, "Valley Views," appears on the second and fourth Fridays of each month.

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Valley Views: Moi? In a fight? Let's learn from race in history, not get upset by it

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Nov 25, 2021, 8:22 pm

Now, I usually mind my own business when I overhear a conversation, but this wasn't the case last week in the swimming pool at the YMCA waiting for my water aerobics class to begin. I was slowly warming up and idly listening to a conversation between a man and woman treading water nearby. I wouldn't say I "know" them but they, too, are regulars.

Then I heard her ask him: "What is this 'critical race theory?'"

And he began to reply: "It teaches kids that from the time they are born that they are guilty."

I actually felt my blood boil at what I considered a gross misinterpretation. I charged through the 10 feet of water that were separating us.

"Wait! Wait!" I said. "That's not what it is at all."

He turned toward me and firmly stated, "You may have your opinion but I am talking."

For a second I actually thought it might escalate into a shouting match, something entirely out of my comfort zone. So I backed off and chose an exercise spot a bit distant as the class began. But I could hear the rest of his answer, an extremely negative and incorrect account of critical race theory as I understand it.

I was upset. Which actually was good for my energy level as I jogged and kicked and vigorously pushed and pulled the water-resistant dumbbells. And I thought during the entire class about what had just happened.

This was a man I'd spoken to many times in the past. He and his wife had recently taken a scuba diving trip to Tahiti, and I'd told him about my diving experiences in the Red Sea many years ago. We'd also commented about the teachers and the classes as they resumed earlier this year.

And, although the Y should not be a place for political discussion, I'd heard him expound during the recall election on how he was all for it and go on to criticize Gov. Gavin Newsom. Which was dismaying but had not sent me into a fury.

Now, I had 45 minutes of exercise time to consider what made me so angry that I had thrust myself into their conversation. What had I hoped to gain from it? And now what, if anything, should I do? I made my decision.

When class was over, as everyone dried off and packed up, I grabbed my belongings and approached the guy.

"Excuse me," I said, and he looked up. "I want to tell you I am sorry."

He smiled slightly and mumbled something like, "That's OK."

"I should not have interrupted you," I continued. "And I am sure we have things in common that we can agree on."

I paused.

"We both like water aerobics," I said.

Then he laughed pleasantly. I responded in kind and walked away.

My understanding of critical race theory (CRT) is that it includes the lives of Black residents in American history and the impact of slavery from the beginning. This sounds quite different from my education in the 1950s. It was relatively recently, upon reading Jill Lepore's "These Truths: The History of the United States," that I received a broader view of our nation's founding and early years.

But I am aware of the great divide in America of facts and alternative facts so I went to good old Merriam-Webster -- online because it had to be up to date -- and found the following definition:

Critical race theory: "a group of concepts (such as the idea that race is a sociological rather than biological designation, and that racism pervades society and is fostered and perpetuated by the legal system) used for examining the relationship between race and the laws and legal institutions of a country and especially the United States."

Learning the complete history of our country and its institutions and how and why laws were passed sounds like the definition of education to me. And I don't feel any guilt due to the actions of my ancestors, only sadness for the injustices.

These issues, historical and current, sound like a good thing to explore and discuss -- without interrupting each other -- so we can move forward in a better way.

Editor's note: Dolores Fox Ciardelli is Tri-Valley Life editor for the Pleasanton Weekly. Her column, "Valley Views," appears on the second and fourth Fridays of each month.

Comments

Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 25, 2021 at 9:52 pm
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 25, 2021 at 9:52 pm

"Long before Europeans, Africans, and Asians settled in North America, sovereign societies shared the continent through complex and frequently negotiated networks of alliances, confederacies, intermarriage, treaties, and trade agreements".

Contrary to recorded history. Columbus did not "discover" America. It was always here. Native American tribes lived for centuries on the American continent. Columbus was the first white man to enslave people of color in America, he kidnaped and enslaved Native American Indians.

Regarding the "Louisiana purchase" (October 01, 1775) the land was not France land to sell. the French never ventured more than a couple of miles north of New Orleans. Napoleon successfully negotiated the first major land fraud in America claiming ownership of Louisiana territories, selling that land he did not own.


MichaelB
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 26, 2021 at 5:33 am
MichaelB, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 26, 2021 at 5:33 am

"But I am aware of the great divide in America of facts and alternative facts so I went to good old Merriam-Webster -- online because it had to be up to date -- and found the following definition:
Critical race theory: "a group of concepts (such as the idea that race is a sociological rather than biological designation, and that racism pervades society and is fostered and perpetuated by the legal system) used for examining the relationship between race and the laws and legal institutions of a country and especially the United States.""

Let me guess. An opposing (not left wing) point of view on this issue are "alternative facts"? Try something else to explore besides the good old dictionary to be up to date on this issue.

Web Link


Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 26, 2021 at 5:56 am
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 26, 2021 at 5:56 am

President Andrew Jackson, 1830 speech before congress.
Denounced Indians, stating "they have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition. Established in the midst of another and a superior race...they must necessarily yield to the force of another of circumstance and ere [before long] disappear".

May 28, 1830, congress passed the Indian Removal Act; The Indian people had no representation in this matter. The U.S. Army immediately removed 60,000 Indians from the lands in the east. The Act, referred to as a unitary act of "systemic genocide, because it discriminated against an entire ethnic group in so far as to make certain the death of vast numbers of its population".


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 26, 2021 at 7:52 am
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 26, 2021 at 7:52 am

Maybe a lot has changed since I was in grade school, high school, and college, but I was taught US history from the historical events perspective which included the aforementioned targeted events as well as from the perspective of those impacted by them - and it wasn’t limited to Native Americans or African Americans- it included the Irish, Jewish, Asian, and Muslim communities as well - and instead of calling it critical race theory , it was just called “history “

I don’t understand why we need to rebrand things in a polarizing manner.


Rosie
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 26, 2021 at 11:09 am
Rosie, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 26, 2021 at 11:09 am

The problem is that you are viewing CRT as a graduate course in college definition and people who may be "opposed" to CRT is really opposed to the applications of it in real life. You can study CRT, Socialism, Capitalism, and whatever you like when you're grown and have more critical analysis skills to decipher fact from fiction and impact of various theories on current state of society. In the past this was in college.

For many of us, we're opposing critical race theory praxis. How is CRT being applied and waterfall down in our education of K-12 kids. It's becoming more and more apparent that an infusion of "race-essentialism" is being introduced in K-8 education. Young children just do not have the full capacity to process these ideas in full totality with their short time in the world. What people like myself are opposed to is having to see race first in someone above all else. Please do a little more "googling" and look at what Chris Rufo (as one source) has gathered overtime on how critical race praxis has infiltrated all parts of US society. I don't have the characters left to do this for you.

I don't think I'm going to change your mind, and you haven't changed mine because you looked up the definition of CTR. I guess I'm old school. I am an Asian immigrant (I know in some circles I'm considered white adjacent). However, I was poor, I and my family have experienced racism, I have been able to overcome many difficulties to have a good life here in America. I believe in social programs to help those in need, but I'm opposed to removing personal agency. Telling kids that a system keeps them down, that what they do won't matter because "the man is keeping you down." How exactly do you think that is going to help K-8 kids achieve anything in life? Kids need hope, teenagers need hope, adults need hope. Just think back 10 years before today, before critical race praxis in broad society...has race relations gotten better or worse? I think you know the answer.


Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 26, 2021 at 11:35 am
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 26, 2021 at 11:35 am

African American communities, Irish communities, Jewish communities,
Asian communities, Muslim communities all continue to grow vigorously in America.
The Native American Indian community is nearly extinct.


ptown
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2021 at 11:54 am
ptown, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Nov 26, 2021 at 11:54 am

Rosie, thank you for your well thought out point of view.


John
Registered user
Birdland
on Nov 26, 2021 at 1:19 pm
John, Birdland
Registered user
on Nov 26, 2021 at 1:19 pm

Very well said Rosie.


Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 26, 2021 at 3:45 pm
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 26, 2021 at 3:45 pm

Indian children born in years following the Wounded Knee massacre as young as age five, were sent away to boarding schools. I was placed in boarding school on the Crow Creek Reservation along with my cousins. I escaped twice. I was captured twice, returned to the school where I remained for ten years.

We were force fed Latin, punished when caught speaking our language. Standard type of punishment was running the gauntlet on hands and knees while as many as one hundred classmates struck our body with whips and sticks. At age seventeen I left the reservation for good, never returned.

I was first person witness to children bullied, children beaten, children dying. Every Sunday evening, we were forced to watch old west films of U.S. calvary killing Indians.

The boarding school's primary objective of "civilizing" or assimilating Native American Indian children into Euto-American culture in the process, these schools denigrated Native American Indian culture and made children give up their language and their religion. At the same time the schools provided a basic education in Euro-American subjects.


Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 26, 2021 at 7:34 pm
Michael Austin , Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 26, 2021 at 7:34 pm

Yes, we can "debate and discuss these horrible acts".

President Andrew Jackson a Democrat sponsored the Indian Removal Act and the ensuing systemic genocide that came with it.

President Abraham Lincoln a Republican freed the African American slaves.

Columbus was the first white man to enslave people of color (Native American Indians) in America.


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