Saturday, September 20, 2008
"How can it be racist if I like them?"
I got a "D/F" on my very first essay in my Modern Lit class. Bleah.
I suppose it shouldn't bother me. The professor did say she graded these "mercilessly," as this first essay doesn't count towards our grades. (She gives us the first paper to learn exactly what she wants.)
However, this paper did shake my confidence a bit. Not so much about myself, as I'm currently so close to earning a degree that it would be ridiculous to think that I can't get through the remaining few courses. Rather, it shook my confidence in the professor, and her ability to conduct this class.
In this essay, I was to discuss the unconscious racism of the narrator in "I Want To Know Why", by Sherwood Anderson. (FWIW, he's from my home town.)
I pointed out that as the story was written in the 1920's, and the narrator was only 15, his use of the word "nigger", was not necessarily racist. Rather, I figured it's just the word they used at the time.
In the margin, the professor wrote: "But it's racist, regardless."
Huh? What kind of facile point is that to make?
I also wrote that the narrator has a profound admiration for blacks; they are part of the horse-racing scene he's so interested in. Like the horses, they have their place and fill it well. It's the owners of the horses, who are white, that he sees getting drunk and cavorting with ugly prostitutes.
So, I pointed out that though the narrator is racist, in that he can't see blacks as being anything other than good cooks and dedicated horse-tenders, he has an admiration for that type of work, so much so that he wanted to do that type of work himself. So, his racism is of a rather nice variety.
The professor wrote: "Racism isn't 'nice'."
WTF? Am I going to have to toe some politically-correct line with this woman? And honestly, I'm reminded of the Seinfeld episode, the one where "Donna Chang" wasn't Chinese.
Jerry: "How can it be racist if I like them?".
Anyway, grades aside, this professor makes modern literature about as fun and interesting as jury duty. I would have never predicted that my Shakespeare class would be the funner and more-interesting of my two classes, but it is.
I have thirteen more of these essays to write over the course of the semester. They only need to be 200-250 words apiece, but right now I don't feel like even writing one more word for this woman.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Bleah...