Watermelon busted

If Condoleeza throws a watermelon off a tall building, how long will it take for the instructor who wrote the math-test question to apologize?

The Bellevue Community College math instructor who wrote a racially insensitive math question came forward during an emotional campus meeting Wednesday, apologizing for what he termed an “egregious mistake.”

“Though I never intended insult, I am judged for what I should have known. Educators are held to a higher standard,” said Peter Ratener, who has taught at BCC for more than 25 years.

The guy thought a watermelon joke would be OK if he mocked a black Republican? Blacks were not amused.

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Comments

  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    This isn’t a matter of inadvertent racism, if there really is such a thing. Nobody’s that stupid.

    This is the equivalent of calling Rice an Oreo.

  2. It’s definitely intentional, and the guy probably figured because it was a Republican, he’d not only get away with it, he’d be cheered.

    You know, if a person wanted to use that problem – they could simply substitute David Letterman, who, in the early days of his show (and maybe still, I don’t stay up that late any more) was known for doing such a thing. In that case, no harm, no foul, and it’s actually kind of funny.

    (I KNOW I remember having seen Letterman throw a watermelon off a building at some point).

  3. ricki wrote:

    (I KNOW I remember having seen Letterman throw a watermelon off a building at some point).

    Yeah, but that wouldn’t have made the important point that if you’re a conservative you’re not genuinely black, the amount of melanin in your skin notwithstanding. That would have just been another comedian smashing a piece of fruit. Galagher’s been doing that for a couple of decades, I think.

  4. “Educators are held to a higher standard”…yeah, like this comment would have been OK in a corporation, in a government agency, or in a military.

    Is there no limit to the self-importance of these people?

  5. “…yeah, like this comment would have been OK in a corporation, in a government agency, or in a military.”

    Educators are held to a higher standard … of truth, unlike the capitalist pigsties (“corporations”), the Bush regime, or its warriors. That is why our universities are dark (“ivory” is Racist™) towers of resistance against Rightist ignorance.

    They are also held to a higher standard in a different sense by their enemies (the aforementioned trinity of evil). While the President can get away with anything, scholars must watch what they say, lest they end up in Abu Ghraib. In the backwards world of 1984 (yeah, it’s 2006, but how good is Bush at math?), a non-Racist™ joke can be grounds for offense. Remember that Racism™ is only perpetuated by the oppressor against the oppressed. Condoleezza Rice is an oppressor. And remember that there is no such thing as race. So it doesn’t matter if she is “black.”

    Seriously,

    Blacks were not amused.

    Color-shmolor, who was amused besides Mr. Comedian?

  6. If the question had Condi Rice throwing Michael Moore up in the air it would have been way funnier.

  7. Yes and if you stand on your left foot and look over your right shoulder and squint, I look a little like Robert Redford.

    And if you look at everything through the prism of ‘how can I possibly, by every means immaginable, assuming the worst possible motives, attribute racial motives to something, and assume that every white person is a charter member of the KKK,’ well yes I guess you could this as racially insensitive.

    Criminy people, it is a math problem, where the teacher tried to make it interesting. To mention a black person and the word, ‘watermelon’ in the same sentence does not mean the person is a slatering foam at the mouth racist. Get a life and try to lighten up.

  8. Robert Wright says:

    Hm. This bothers me.

    It was a stupid, insensitive remark to make.

    But there’s a big difference between racism and insensitivity.

    The call for his resignation is an example of mean spirited political correctness which, in my opinion, is worse than his math problem.

  9. atlas wrote:

    Get a life and try to lighten up.

    Another racist comment typical of the elite, white, patriarchal establishment which maintains its privileges by embedding demeaning, stereotype-engendering messages in seemingly innocent expressions!!!!

    Whew. That’s not nearly as easy as it looks. You really have to work pretty hard to string those words together so they appear to mean something.

  10. Ryan Grant says:

    To be fair, from the article:

    Ratener said the question originally had referred to comedian Gallagher, who smashed watermelons as part of his act, and that he changed it to Condoleezza because she was a more recognizable icon and because he likes the name.

    And, from an earlier article:

    Originally, the question referenced Gallagher, a comedian who smashes watermelons and other fruit as part of his act, and was used on a math final about four years ago. The question was rewritten about two years ago to reference Condoleezza and a federal building. As part of common practice, the question was kept on file and used by other teachers to be handed out on practice tests.

  11. Andy Freeman says:

    > The call for his resignation is an example of mean spirited political correctness which, in my opinion, is worse than his math problem.

    If he’d referred to Rev Al Sharpton or any other prominent black Dem, he’d have been fired long ago.

    When the education mafia ceases to be partisan left, we can talk about tolerance.

  12. Indeed an excellent sentence, Allen. I’m going to print it out and send it to my buddies. People have long recognized me as white but you are the first to be perceptive enough to see that I am also elite and a patriarch.

    Well I’m clearly out of the mainstream here and need guidance. I try to send the kids home each day not feeling like they have had a day of pure oatmeal and knowing that they will get oatmeal tomorrow and the next day, and out to the horizon.

    But lest I fall into the trap of freudianly expressing my barely suppressed racism, help me out here.

    Clearly I can’t use the terms, catfish, collard greens, fried chicken, chittlins. What else? Are there food products that I am not thinking of? How about asparagas? It comes in spears you know. I don’t think I should mention spears.

    On names. I realize that Al and Jesse are out of bounds. But how about Michael, or Tiger? Then again I’ve known quite a few blacks with names like George and Fred. What’s a white elite patriarch to do?

    Anxiously awaiting,
    Atlas

  13. Hey, Atlas, you might want to check out a white musician by the name of Junior Brown. He does a great country song about “Catfish And Collard Greens”.

  14. Indigo Warrior says:

    If I could take all the talent wasted on arguments over race for the past thirty years or so, and harness them productively … by George, cities on the moon and Mars!

  15. Triticale, musicians get a pass for some reason. If he was a teacher he would be ‘sleeping with the fishes’.

  16. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    I love teacher-designed tests..(Note: I teach 5th grade)

    1) If Rep.Cynthia McKinney punched a police officer twice a day for 365 days, how many punches would she punch that officer in a month, assuming she did this at a constant rate, upon entering and leaving the Capitol building?

    2) If Jesse Hijackson shook down a company for $2,000,000 in California and double that in New York, what is the total amount hijacked?

    3) If President Bush allows x number of illegal aliens to be ‘guest workers’ and approximately 12 million illegals are living in the U.S now, write an alegbra expression to show how to find the number of illegals who would choose to be legalized as ‘guest workers’.

    4) If red states and blue states are mixed equally, would they be:
    a) purple b)pink c)yellow d) brown e)all of the above

    5) Black Conservatives can best be compared to:
    a) Nazis b)wooly mammoths c)Uncle Tom d) brave

  17. atlas wrote:

    Indeed an excellent sentence, Allen.

    Thank you, thank you.

    I’m going to print it out and send it to my buddies.

    I’ll assume proper attribution.

    People have long recognized me as white but you are the first to be perceptive enough to see that I am also elite and a patriarch.

    That’s me, preceptive to a fault.

    Well I’m clearly out of the mainstream here and need guidance.

    Certainly a possibility given the egregious nature of your transgression.

    I try to send the kids home each day not feeling like they have had a day of pure oatmeal and knowing that they will get oatmeal tomorrow and the next day, and out to the horizon.

    In what way does this put you outside the mainstream? No one cares if you do otherwise, you aren’t rewarded for doing otherwise, there’s no objective means of measuring if you manage to do otherwise nor is such a method much sought after. So you seem to be right in the mainstream.

    But lest I fall into the trap of freudianly expressing my barely suppressed racism, help me out here.

    It would be my pleasure.

    Clearly I can’t use the terms, catfish, collard greens…..

    There’s your central mistake. You’re assuming that there are some standards, some rules, some objective and identifiable means of measuring when the bounds have been transgressed. How charmingly naive. The point of the chastisement isn’t to deter offensive behavior rather, the offending behavior is the excuse for the chastisement. As such, when the offending behaviour becomes difficult to find, the behavior deemed offensive changes.

    What’s a white elite patriarch to do?

    Sneering condescension is generally acknowledged as evidence of superiority, as is thin-lipped disapproval. Better yet though is finding evidence of racism everywhere although that vein is pretty thoroughly mined so you may have to explore the novel and seemingly unlikely for evidence of racism. That’s my advice.

    Find evidence of racism where no one else has found, and denounced it. That’s the ticket.