What We Missed

Fuck Congress. House Republicans killed extension of the payroll tax cut and jobless benefits. Democrats have no plans to call the Senate back into session.

Beautiful post by a 1st-grade teacher about preventing gender bullying in the classroom.

You can watch The Purity Myth documentary for only $2 until the end of the day today.

Thank you, anarchists of Occupy Wall Street, for showing us a new way forward.

How Romney’s using political doublespeak to claim he opposes anti-gay discrimination.

This Dutch Christmas tradition is super racist.

Happy Hanukkah!

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10 Comments

  1. Posted December 20, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    I really love the post from the 1st grade teacher, thanks for sharing it!

    • Posted December 21, 2011 at 2:51 am | Permalink

      If I had her as a teacher while I was a kid, I wouldn’t have absorbed some pretty fucked up views on gender that I’ve been trying to make progress with.

    • Posted December 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Love this post. We have a little boy in our classroom who chooses to have long
      hair. Had to tell other students to leave him alone and try to challenge their gender stereotypes yesterday. I can remember being little and refusing to play with stereotypically girl toys and being very upset when I wasn’t allowed to roughhouse with the little boys. Now I do MMA. My mom had to sneak out just to play football.
      It is surprising how early (and uptightly) the gender stereotypes form.

  2. Posted December 20, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    My stepmother, who comes from Germany, has told me of that “Schwartz Piet” character in that part of the world. There’s also a similar folklore with Santa’s helper being “Krampus”, an imaginary devil/imp sort of character, rather than a person of a particular race. I wonder which tradition originated first?

    • Posted December 20, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

      Krampus is from pre-Christian Germany (so, back before Charlemagne), and Zwarte Piet in the current incarnation is from the 19th century (specifically from a book illustration around 1845 or 1850).

      • Posted December 21, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the clarification! I probably should have figured Krampus was older given his “horned god”-like attributes. :)

  3. Posted December 20, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    About “Zwarte Piet” – I live in a neighboring country and I’ve always been told at home and in school that he’s white during the year but on the night of 5 December he helps Sinterklaas, our equivalent of Santa, climb down chimneys all over the world to place Sinterklaas’ gifts for kids in front of the fireplace. It’s also a tradition to leave drinks or snacks in front of the fireplace to reward him, and he’s basically just an equivalent of Sanfa’s little helpers.

    But, that’s what they’ve been saying over the past two decades, it could very well be that the roots of this character are racist and have to do with Dutch colonialism. Most people here don’t know what blackface means – and the only decidedly black-looking character in folklore is Zwarte Piet. Maybe it is still quasi-accepted as a tradition because the Dutch have never had much black/white tension in their own country? I mean in the US this would’ve been banned a long time ago.

    I have never thought about him much but growing up I found him really scary and then when I first heard of blackface in the US I immediately found this character despicable, despite the chimney story.

  4. Posted December 20, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    I really wish I had that teacher as a student. It would have been nice to discover that I didn’t have to be a man 18 years ago.

  5. Posted December 21, 2011 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    the post with the primary school teacher made me smile. it’s so important to educate kids & give them the tools to critique social constructs & children are so open minded & capable of understanding more than adults give them credit for. it’s why i wanted to teach primary(but have settled for secondary for irrelevant reasons). im saving this article for when i’m feeling bitter & need hope for humanity.

  6. Posted December 21, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    From the last article, “In fact, they became so mad that organizers of New Westminster’s Dutch Sinterklaas celebrations in Canada have pulled Black Peter from their traditional parade after complaints that the black-faced helper carried racist undertones.”

    Overtones is more like it. Seriously.

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