Racism

From The Smoking Gun:

APRIL 13--To prepare for an upcoming exam, students at a Washington state college last month were given a sample test that contained an algebra problem involving someone named "Condoleezza," watermelons, and a federal building. The practice test was distributed to students in an intermediate algebra class at Bellevue Community College, and has triggered an uproar at the school. In a meeting yesterday, Bellevue President Jean Floten apologized to students for the act of "institutional racism" and pledged that the school would step up efforts to improve racial sensitivity. A copy of the entire test--with the watermelon problem at question 25--can be found below. The college has declined to identify which teacher created the test, but Floten said the instructor has apologized and is seeking sensitivity training. The practice test was given to students as an actual final exam in 2004, though nobody apparently objected at the time.


Here's the actual test question:

25. Condoleezza holds a watermelon just over the edge of roof of the 300-foot Federal Building, and tosses it up with a velocity of 20 feet per second. The height of the watermelon above the ground t seconds later is given by formula h = -16t2 + 20t + 300.

a. In how many seconds will it pass her (she's standing at a height of 300 feet) on the way down?
b. When will the watermelon hit the ground?
c. How high did the watermelon get above the ground?


The way I see it, you can approach this question from three vantage points:

1. Since there is a racial stereotype about blacks and watermelons, by mentioning a black woman and a watermelon as a test question, the author was clearly being racist.

2. Anyone who would complain about this test is clearly a racist since they made a logical jump from watermelons to African-Americans.

3. Watermelons are a fun thing to throw off a building, since they make a huge splat. In fact, they might be the most fun thing to throw off a building because they're heavy and full of juice. When this test was created in 2004, Condoleeza Rice was a relevant figure in the news who is known more for being Bush's toadie than for the color of her skin. In extremely liberal Washington State, using Condoleeza Rice to throw an object off of a building could have been amusing. The fact that the object was a watermelon was merely an unfortunate coincidence, and there was no intent to be racist.

I think I'll go with #3. When there is real racism in the world, and people are severely affected by it, it's unfortunate that people are wasting their time with this type of shit. Focus on the real issues, ignore the manufactured claims of racism, and maybe something would actually get accomplished. Fucktards.

3 Thoughts:

Blogger Su said...

You forgot the European vantage point which is:

4. Watermelons and black people? Er... I'm sorry, I don't understand...

4/14/2006 6:41 AM  
Blogger Avitable said...

Yeah - forgot about that one. I don't even understand where the stereotype came from and have only a passing knowledge of it.

4/14/2006 7:11 AM  
Blogger Shell said...

I'm not a republican and don't like Bush, but I would be irritated by any political suggestiveness in a standardized test. If it's something they require of students, they need to keep their politics out of it.

Cheers!

4/16/2006 11:42 AM  

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