Showing posts from October, 2013

Privilege! Or, ew, haoles.

I’ve never thought of myself as a racist—I believe in equality and diversity and I see the beauty of all ethnicities... I speak lots of languages, I’ve been to lots of countries, eat all kinds of cuisines, read storybooks from all cultures—sheesh, I’ve even got a fancy degree that says “anthropology” on it, someplace.I don’t harbor a secret aversion to any group of people, I don’t tell racist jokes, and I call people out on it if they do. I’m an all-around PC gal.
But living in Hawaii, I get to confront the truth about my past racist behavior. It’s uncomfortable. So I thought I’d share. Because discomfort loves disclosure. (Somebody should embroider that on something. Maybe a hospital gown with an open back.)
The thing with my life in Hawaii is that, over here, for the first time in my life as an American in America, I’m not a member of the majority ethnicity (which here is mixed!) or the majority culture (Local!) and I don’t speak the standard dialect of English (Pidgin!)—at least n…

The Five Paragraph Essay

At this moment, children across the United States are gazing at posters of hamburgers, counting on their own five fingers, sketching outlines studded with roman numerals and dots and dashes. Why? to try and construct that keystone achievement of the public school classroom: the five paragraph essay. We teachers natter on about Thesis Statements! And Topic Sentences! And Supporting Proof! As if these are universal truths—divine principles like Faith, Hope, and Charity; Maiden, Mother, and Crone; John, Paul and Ringo. We cling to this five paragraph lifeboat like it can calm the waters, guide us to shore, take us to new realms. But is it all just tinkling brass—form without substance? Is the five-paragraph essay really the essential first tool for organizing thought on paper?
Poetry doesn’t have a thesis statement. Gerard Manley Hopkins didn’t need to say, “Eh hem. This poem will be about the variegation of life and how that diversity reflects the joyfulness of our connection with our …