Friday, September 21, 2007

A nigger, coon, darkie, Jim Crow

A negro (pl. –es); a colored person; a blackamoor; a black man; a black; a nigger; a darky (darkie); a coon; a Jim Crow; colored people; the colored.

That is the definition, according to Sharp's electronic Korean-English dictionary, of "black person". As an educator, I am appalled. As a person, I am offended.

My students are doing oral reports on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, title VII. As such, numerous students asked me to look over the outlines that they had written, in order to ensure accuracy and good grades. As I looked over the outline of one of my students, I saw "As she was a woman and Nigger, these laws..." Whoa. I asked her where she learned this word, as she is not a native English speaker. "My dictionary", was her reply. So, I asked her to show me the dictionary, and what I read left me flabbergasted. I explained to my student that "nigger" is a bad word, inappropriate and offensive, as are "coon", "darkie", "blackamoor" and "Jim Crow". I explained to her what racial slurs are, and she looked up the word "nigger" in her dictionary. When she found the definition, she was shocked and embarrassed. I helped her to understand that I was not upset with her, as it was not her fault, but that I was not only taken aback, but shocked and appalled that her dictionary would contain such words as part of the standard definition for "black person".

The words "nigger", "coon" ,"darkie", "blackamoor" and "Jim Crow" are not part of the definition or translation of the words "black person". Appropriate terms would have included: "person or people of African descent", "person or people with dark skin" or, as some of the other dictionaries listed "Afro- or African-American" and "African". I think it is interesting that all of the dictionaries (so far) have limited to term to Africans and African Americans, as if there are not "black" people in other countries/continents. Some of them also used "colored" or "people of color" in their definitions. These at least I can understand. How did racial slurs become appropriate definitions/terms for a group of people, any people? Those are not even "slang" terms, they are offensive references and derogatory words.

Needless to say, a few people at Sharp will be getting letters from me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Typhoon is Coming, The Typhoon is Coming!

Important Announcement!
To All Faculty and Staff,
Classes are canceled tomorrow due to Wipha Typhon. We expect to resume classes on Thursday, September 20, 2007. Please remind students of the cancellation.
Thank You.
The Principal.

I received this note and looked out of my classroom window. It had been a dark, dreary day with heavy rainfall. I thought nothing of it, as we have had a few dark, dreary, rainy days in the past two weeks. My temperament was a little unbalanced, something I attributed the lack of sunlight and my secret desire to be at home enjoying the company of one recently returned significant other. I was so lethargic I found myself dreaming of Friday (it's Tuesday). My students looked equally as weary and melancholy as I felt, which is always a bad sign at the beginning of the week. I hoped it was just the rain that was affecting everyone. Oh, if today were Friday, I mused silently
as I corrected my 10th graders' English papers, then I could go home, drink some chocolate, watch DVD's, and sleep until I wanted to wake up. I wouldn't even look at lesson planing, or grading, I would just relax. These were my thoughts. Well, those and why do some of my students think that one sentence = one paragraph and therefore 5 sentences = an essay? Only Tuesday and I need a break.
Is it wrong to thank God for a typhoon?

East China Braces for Fierce Typhoon

SHANGHAI, China (AP) — China's commercial center of Shanghai was evacuating 200,000 people on Tuesday ahead of the expected arrival of Typhoon Wipha, potentially the most destructive storm to hit the city in a decade, local media reported.

Whipping up waves up to 36 feet high, Wipha was moving northwest across the sea north of Taiwan and was forecast to make landfall south of Shanghai early Wednesday, weather reports said.

"The typhoon is very likely to develop into the worst one in recent years. We are still observing it. It's hard to say at this moment," said a man who answered the phone at the city's meteorological bureau. As is common with Chinese officials, the man identified himself only by his surname, Fu.

At 9 a.m. (9 p.m. EDT) Tuesday, Wipha's center was located about 137 miles east of Taiwan's capital, Taipei, according to the Hong Kong Observatory's Web site.

Shanghai and the coastal provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian to the south issued typhoon warnings requiring all vessels to return to shore or change course to avoid the storm, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

State-run newspapers reported that some 200,000 people living in coastal or low-lying rural areas of Shanghai were being evacuated as a precaution, although the city was only experiencing intermittent showers early Tuesday.

A worker was killed and another seriously injured Tuesday when scaffolding collapsed at a highway construction site in Taipei, Taiwan's Disaster Relief Center reported.

Schools, offices and the stock market in northern Taiwan were ordered closed as a precaution and flights from Taiwan to Japan, South Korea and a few other Asian countries were canceled, officials said.

The storm was upgraded from a tropical storm on Monday afternoon. Wipha is a woman's name in Thai.

The deadliest storm to hit the China coast in recent years was Typhoon Winnie in 1997, which killed 236 people. Typhoon Rananim, with winds of more than 100 mph, was the strongest typhoon to hit the Chinese mainland since 1956, killing nearly 200 people.