Am I racist for teaching William Faulkner?

I got reamed out this weekend by a perpetually irate parent because her Special Snowflake is African-American and was ‘forced’ to read a story by William Faulkner in literature class that mentions Negroes (being set 10 years after the Civil War) and once uses the ‘n-word’. Blacks are not the focus of the story, it just mentions one old servant, and she chewed me out for 20 minutes about ‘negative images’ before I realized that she thought the main character was black. (The story is ‘A Rose for Miss Emily’, if you’re familiar with that short story). Miss Emily is white – although Mrs. Snowflake was outraged that a black woman be portrayed as fat, dirty, and crazy. After I corrected her on the race of Miss Emily, it was okay that a white woman be portrayed as fat, dirty, and crazy. AND she told me that I, as a white woman, had no business mentioning slavery, or teaching anything about that period. In fact, she would prefer that the Civil War and slavery never be mentioned in any class because it was a shameful period, and should be forgotten. :confused:
Admittedly, I am a white country person. Do black people these days just want to forget the Civil War and slavery, or is she just nuttier than usual?

I am a black city person, and I don’t think the parent in question is best described as nutty. She’s best described as stupid.

If she gets that yanked up about a story written 80 years ago by a genuine American master she has what my dear old mother would have called “high class worries.”

And if she wants to forget the Civil War and slavery because it is shameful, she is is just plain wrong. That’s precisely why we should see that it is never forgotten.

No, there’s nothing racist about teaching literature set in a different time period and that uses the language of that time and place. I don’t know the story specifically but her objection doesn’t make any sense. And of course, saying ‘white people have no business mentioning slavery’ is itself racist. And really, really stupid.

Don’t go there. This is about one oversensitive parent, not all black people.

Seriously - what happens when somebody tries to teach Huckleberry Finn? (Well, I did just typo that “Fuckleberry”, which I think would give a few parents a valid complaint.)

It gets banned.

The parent was wrong, stupid and long-winded. She should appreciate Faulkner.

I don’t think a stupid person can appreciate Faulkner.

Incidentally, how is Faulkner’s writing stupid, and about what is it “wrong”? (I won’t argue long-winded.)

Perhaps, if anyone cares what the misguided woman thinks, someone could explain to her that blacks have zero reason to be ashamed of slavery.

You’ve been whooshed.

Whites also have zero reason to be ashamed of slavery, seeing as how it ended 30 years before the current oldest person in the world was born.

I do try to present a balanced view of literature, but Mrs. Snowflake thinks if you aren’t black, you can’t understand the nuances of the situation.

“Those who forget the past are codemned to repeat it.”

I guess that means that black folk can’t understand the nuances of literature by white authors.

(Which is probably true: we probably all have trouble understanding the nuances of literature from outside our own social milieu, though trying to read up on other cultures might help a bit.)

I dunno. What did you teach him?

If you don’t teach l’il Snowflake, Snowflake’s mum sure isn’t qualified to do the job.

Following that logic, if you weren’t ever a slave, then you can’t understand slavery. I’m guessing Mrs. Snowflake was never a slave. Therefore, she should shut up and sit down.

Black person here. What Marley said. The woman is not a spokesperson for black people. She is a nut and an idiot.

On the other hand, both black and white people (and others) in America today live on foundation partially built by slavery. The present is made of the past.

This has sometimes been cited as grounds for reparations and affirmative action to benefit black folks. I’ve also known a couple black writers to give thanks for the fact, with the idea that–even with racism–circumstances for black folks in America often beat circumstances for black folks in Africa.*

Either way I think that slavery is an inescapable part of American heritage. No matter what color you are or when and where your particular ancestors came to this land, holding American citizenship in itself makes you an inheritor of slavery (oh, and the slaughter of the Natives, too).

Should we be consumed with shame? Should this fact rule our lives? Of course not. We are inheritors of great and beautiful things, too, legitimate sources of pride. Naturally we should work to preserve and develop the great and beautiful parts of heritage, to make those our own most lasting legacies in turn.

But, it’s kind of a cheat to claim the good without accepting a measure of the bad.

  • Note, I haven’t ever been persuaded of this as a general argument, but clearly some sons of slaves have done pretty well for themselves.

Who said white people did? Fish have no reason to be ashamed of slavery, since now we are apparently just randomly listing groups that shouldn’t be ashamed of slavery.

It is implied in the OP that the woman has a problem with negative views of blacks. I assume this is why she doesn’t want slavery taught. I thought it may help her to know that slavery does not cast a negative view on blacks. I have no earthly idea why you brought white people into the discussion. Odd.