The subtly racist peanut-butter sandwich

A peanut-butter sandwich could be racist, according to Verenice Gutierrez, reports the Portland (Oregon) Tribune.

Last year, a teacher used peanut-butter sandwiches as an example in a lesson.

“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” says Gutierrez, principal at Harvey Scott K-8 School, a diverse school of 500 students in Northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood.

“Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.”

And maybe this is incredibly patronizing.

Guitierrez, along with all of Portland Public Schools’ principals, will start the new school year off this week by drilling in on the language of “Courageous Conversations,” the district-wide equity training being implemented in every building in phases during the past few years.

Through intensive staff trainings, frequent staff meetings, classroom observations and other initiatives, the premise is that if educators can understand their own “white privilege,” then they can change their teaching practices to boost minority students’ performance.

Scott teachers met in the first week of school to read a news story and discuss its inherent “white privilege.” A few teachers had the courage to object to the school’s lunch-time drum class, which is open only to Hispanic and black boys. About 65 percent of students are black or Hispanic.

At least one parent has a problem with the the class, saying it amounts to “blatant discrimination and equity of women, Asians, whites and Native Americans.”

“This ‘club’ was approved by the administration, and any girls who complained were brushed off and it was not addressed,” the parent wrote anonymously.

“When white people do it, it is not a problem, but if it’s for kids of color, then it’s a problem?” responds Gutierrez. “That’s your white privilege, and your whiteness.”

When white people create an explicitly whites-only school class or club . . . ? Does that happen in schools?


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  1. Stacy in NJ says:

    It’s a distraction. Reading the article I see the school performs in the bottom 15% of schools statewide. The principal’s reforms have produced “uneven” results. Yeah, no doubt.

    My prediction: In a few years this principal will move on to a new school – probably getting a salary increase when she does. Her old school will still be in the bottom 15% of performers because, after all, there is no way any teacher or school could overcome the deficit these students begin school with (this will be and is the excuse this principal will use) (Or, It’s not my responsibility or fault). See Chicago public school teachers.

  2. “… the school’s lunch-time drum class, which is open only to Hispanic and black boys.”

    Is this even legal?

    You can make the environment hostile enough that very few white and Asian kids will want to attend and that is probably legal. But to just exclude based on race?

  3. I think that this obsession with white privilege leads the ignoring of socio-economic differences that can have a real impact on how teachers interact with students and families. For example teachers might assume that students have access to a computer, laundry facilities, a house, etc.

    I think this is less true in very poor schools because teachers either understand it going in or quickly come to understand their students lives. However, I think that teachers being clueless persists in more integrated schools and schools that have only a few students that live in poverty. I previously brought up the expectation that kindergartners have to bring in class sets of individually wrapped snacks. Even things like higher school fees and paperless classrooms that rely on families having computers.

    It seems as though there is a need for more useful inservice trainings that go beyond patriarchy and white privilege.

  4. Additionally, all the understanding in the world isn’t going to improve how students learn and achieve.

  5. Pfft…I ate a PB and Jam sandwich for dinner last night…there was nothing racist about it, but it was tasty…:)


    • Bill – did you carfully consider how the bread kept the rest of the sandwich in line by laying out strict boundries? It’s left as an exercise for the student to determine the relative abundance of bread colors in PBJ’s. White bread is obvious, but how do you classify marbled rye?

    • That wasn’t on white bread, was it? ‘Cause that would be a problem…

  6. I never eat PB&J. I do like pitas. I didn’t know it wasn’t American to eat pitas and we’re only supposed to eat PB&J. Bummer.

  7. Two words: private school.

    Any pack of bureaucrats with enough time to puzzle over such nonsense doesn’t have enough real work to do.

  8. It’s Portland, after all. Wasn’t that where their website actually stated that teaching/encouraging kids to delay gratification and plan for the future was racist?

    Anyone who comes here and wishes to avoid anything outside their familiar cultural content should be encouraged to return to their place of origin ASAP.

    And, yes, Foobarista is right; we have vastly too many educrats. The job eliminations should begin at the top; those riffed can either return to the classroom (at classroom pay, disconnected from EdDs and such nonsense) or find another line of work.

    • It’s Portland, after all. Wasn’t that where their website actually stated that teaching/encouraging kids to delay gratification and plan for the future was racist?

      Seattle, actually.  But I’m sure Portland did, or was ready to do, something equally facepalm-worthy.

      • Sorry – I was confusing my lefty cities. Portland is the place where both federal and local taxpayer money is being spent to subsidize grocery stores – so that no one has to travel more than 1/2 mile to shop – despite the fact that something over 90% of Portlanders (?) own cars.

  9. Wally Katolik says:

    That principal is an anti-American MULTICULTURALIST RACIST!!!

    It’s E Pluribus Unum = the Somali kid and other LEGAL immigrant kids need to be acculturated to the American way of life!!! They can have their Somali or whatever culture at home, in their place of faith, but NOT in the school other than on one day in the year where all ethnicities are celebrated. One of the roles of American PUBLIC education is supposed to celebrate American exceptionalism so that all LEGAL immigrants become AMERICANS!!!

    I’m an American by choice and not accident of birth. I was born in postwar Western Germany of Eastern European parents. The family emigrated to Australia and when i was 13 we immigrated to the United States. After 5 years became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America.

  10. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    Exhibit # 7,455 of how Leftist, politically correct drivel has poisoned public education, along with other societal institutions. Sometimes a peanut butter sandwich is just a peanut butter sandwich. Also, when in Rome….do as the Romans.

  11. Sometimes the pendulum doesn’t swing back until everything’s pretty much destroyed.

  12. Wow. Racism *and* encouraging childhood obesity by promoting simple rather than complex carbohydrates?

    I would totally pull my children out of that school and homeschool them.