Sunday, June 03, 2007

Ho Culture

Why doesn’t the black community see the connection between tolerating the language of the rappers and the violence that pervades their community?

May 17, 2007
The Black And White Of "Ho" Culture
By Kathleen Parker

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- In a new twist in American race relations, a federal court has ruled that a white teacher in a predominantly African-American school was subjected to a racially hostile workplace.

The case concerned Elizabeth Kandrac, who was routinely verbally abused by black students at Brentwood Middle School in North Charleston. Their slurs make shock jock Don Imus look like a church deacon.

Nevertheless, despite frequent complaints, school officials did nothing to intervene on Kandrac's behalf, arguing that the racially charged profanity was simply part of the students' culture. If Kandrac couldn't handle cursing, school officials told her, she was in the wrong school.

Kandrac finally filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and subsequently brought a lawsuit against the Charleston County School District, the school's principal and an associate superintendent. Last fall, jurors found that the school was a racially hostile environment to teach in and that the school district retaliated against Kandrac for complaining about it.

The defendants sought a new trial, but U.S. District Judge David C. Norton recently affirmed the verdict. However, he did not support the jury's findings of $307,500 in damages for lost income and emotional distress.

Although Kandrac clearly suffered -- she was suspended from her job shortly after a story about her EEOC complaint appeared in the local newspaper, and her contract was not renewed -- her case didn't meet evidentiary requirements for damages. The judge said a new trial would have to determine damages, but the school district and Kandrac settled for $200,000.

While the dollars-and-cents issue may have been of paramount importance to school and district officials -- and would have lent heft to the verdict -- the more compelling issue for students, parents and society is the idea that a particular group of people can be allowed to behave in a grossly uncivil and threatening way by virtue of their racial "culture."

The key legal question was whether a school could be held responsible for students' behavior. In this case, the black children of Brentwood had been given a pass for their behavior because vulgar language was considered normal for their culture.

Defense attorney Alice Paylor told jurors that the kids heard this same language at home and there was "no magic pill" to make them behave. Paylor is probably right about that, though a magic paddle might have worked wonders.

Back in the day, if a student talked the way these did, he or she would have received a well-deserved thwack, been suspended and sent home to face the wrath of his or her father. That process likely would have put a swift end to the tribal tyranny now often tolerated in the service of self-esteem.

Let's be clear: What these children called this teacher is beyond reprehensible and could be only be construed as hostile and threatening. Here's a sample: white b----, white m----- f-----, white c---, white a------, white ho.

Other white teachers and students corroborated Kandrac's account, including a male war veteran who testified he would rather return to Vietnam than to Brentwood.

Kandrac's attorney, Larry Kobrovsky, argued that the repeated use of "white" made these slurs racists in nature. But school officials insisted that because black students were equally abusive to other blacks, the language wasn't inherently racist.

Here's what we know without question: If majority white students had used similar language toward black students and teachers, the case would have been plastered on the front page of The New York Times until heads rolled.

A black Kandrac would have a million-dollar book deal, a movie contract and hundreds of interviews to juggle. Her oppressors and those who passively facilitated her abuse would have been pilloried by the media -- their faces all over the evening news -- while the reverends Al and Jesse organized protests.

But a white Kandrac -- who faced a daily barrage of insults, who had books and desks thrown at her and her bicycle tires punctured -- was treated like an incompetent wimp. She was just a lousy teacher out for money, the defense attorney said.

Though Kandrac lost her job, the real losers are the children deprived of an education by the actions of a tyrannical few. And the worst racists are those teachers and administrators who denied these empowered brats the expectation of civilized behavior.

May the rest of America now be emboldened to act decisively in the interest of students who want to learn.


War among blacks is too easy to ignore
May 15, 2007
BY MARY MITCHELL Sun-Times Columnist

What are we to do now? That question nagged me every time I thought about the family of Blair Holt. Blair was the 16-year-old Julian High School junior who was killed Thursday when a 16-year-old gang member opened fire on a 103rd Street CTA bus.

Michael "Mario" Pace, an alleged gang member, has been charged with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder. Kevin Jones, 15, who allegedly gave Pace the gun, faces the same charges.

How in the hell does a 15-year-old boy get his hands on a gun?

As is usually the case, the intended target of Pace's hatred -- which was apparently driven by an ongoing rivalry with another gang member over a girl -- walked away without a scratch.

But Blair, an honor student, was shot when he used his body to shield a girl from the gunfire. He died during surgery. Four other teens were wounded in the armed attack.

Even those of us who do not know the Holt family have wept over this tragedy.
Ronald Holt is a Chicago Police gang-crimes officer. Annette Holt is a captain with the Chicago Fire Department. If there is one couple who would have taken steps to protect their only son from the dangers in the street, it had to be this one.

Still, despite teaching their son right from wrong, despite nurturing his dreams, educating him, and undergirding him with moral values, they could not shield him from someone else's son who had no dreams.

That's the sad reality of what's going on in too many black neighborhoods.
No matter what your profession or where you live, if you are an African-American parent of a male child, you cannot shake the dreadful feeling that what happened to the Holt family could happen to you. We are grieved by the thought that maybe the only way to keep our children safe is to never let them out of our sight.

There is never a reasonable explanation for senseless violence. Certainly, the families of the victims who were killed by a mentally deranged student at Virginia Tech last month felt a similar frustration.

Still, those parents could take some comfort in knowing that the shooter was a sick young man who should not have been allowed on the campus in the first place. Many of these parents have turned their sorrow into activism and are demanding changes at the university, as well as in our gun and privacy laws.

What are we going to do now?
Blair's murder is not an isolated case. According to a recent report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the black murder rate fuels the nation's murder surge, and homicide is the leading cause of death among black males ages 16 to 34. Yet, only about a third of the homicides are solved. So, why wouldn't thugs and gang-bangers believe they can get away with murder?

In a column written this year about the black homicide rate, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, the dean of black analysts and social commentators, blamed the carnage in part on the "accessibility of drugs and guns, and the influence of misogynist, violence-laced rap songs."

These conditions "also reinforce the deep feeling among many youth that life is cheap and easy to take, and there will be minimal consequences for their action as long as their victims are other young blacks," Hutchinson wrote.

'They're just children'
Blair's final act of heroism stands in stark contrast to Pace's alleged wanton act of terrorism, and it is the clearest evidence yet that there is a war going on in the African-American community.

This is a class conflict that pits brothers against brothers and neighbors against neighbors; and because the enemy looks likes us, walks like us and talks like us, it is easy to ignore the battle lines.

But know this: This war has already claimed some of the brightest stars in our families. And many of the future victims of this war will embody all of the hopes we have for the future of the black race.

I look at my 6-year-old grandson and cringe knowing that unless the God-fearing and decent among us find a way to win this war, one day I will be sending him to the front lines against black children who -- for whatever reason -- have already lost their souls.

"They're just children," noted Ronald Holt, Blair's father, when the two suspects were arrested. "You wonder where it comes from. What causes a child to wantonly and blatantly hatch such an ill-conceived plan? To go out and do something like this? What makes them do it?"

We are shell-shocked by what has happened to the Holt family. But it is with them -- it is for us -- that we must take a stand.

In this war we have to decide which side we're on: the side of the law, or the side of the gangs. If that means turning our back on a family member, so be it.
We have to make ending gang and gun violence our movement and our cause.


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At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I hear students using the "n" word, I send them to a website

It's sad when they try to justify that it's OK for them to use it because someone told them that somehow because one version ends in "er" vs. ending in "ar" thus it's OK.
The web site features a collection of postcards from the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Apparantly whites would mail these assorted photo cards to each other.

The collection is featured in a museum in NYC, and I first saw the reference to it in the former CBS show "Touched By An Angel"

I then say, what do you think the last words heard by that black man who was lynched by those 100 or so white men, were before he met Jesus?

The students then try to change the subject.


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