Monthly Archives: December 2016

Pretty Privilege

Here is another anonymous blog post sent to me that I would like to post and respond to.

This all boils down to something I will call pretty privilege.  Pretty privilege is subtle, not as in your face as other types of privilege.  I will say that I think I have a pretty face, and am attractive from the neck up (as long as you don’t count my hair…#workinprogress), but I don’t usually have pretty privilege.

The idea of pretty privilege is stupid.  There are way more important things to worry about, even more pressing inequalities in the world.  But since this is on my mind, I will write about it.

I haven’t invested as much into my wardrobe or other things you see many women doing, because I thought I was wasting my time.  Who am I getting dolled up for?  Oh right, nobody, because I’m invisible.  So why waste all this time and money?  Turns out guys want these things, so it’s a cycle.

Pretty privilege is not just about dating.  Life does not revolve around having a man…trust me, I would know.  But pretty privilege is also about people treating you like a human being, instead of just some…thing.  There are way too many examples to share here, but you can definitely see the difference.  There are so many variables that could be at play, but pretty privilege (among other things) is what I think of first.

In order to get pretty privilege, you need the total package. Pretty privilege is the combination of good looks, a nice body, nice clothes, and charm. You probably need at least 3 of the 4.  I usually have one or two going for me at any given time. Yes, I can be charming at times, and I’m getting a little better in this area, but I’m still extremely awkward.

Even when I had a “nice body” for a hot second, my dating life was worse than ever because I still was holding onto that emotional baggage. I was bitter then because I put in all that hard work (it was REALLY hard) and guys still weren’t falling at my feet.

Nobody wants a bag lady.

The world cares a lot about pretty privilege, but probably not as much as I think. It’s ridiculous how shallow I am. I realize that the maturity level of some, maybe most, people has surpassed mine in this area.  But I’ll be stuck here until I work it out.  This is me trying to work it out.  Maybe in 2017 I can work on not caring so much which will no doubt lead to more happiness.

This post was both poignant and heartbreaking. I too do not feel that I am a “pretty” individual. I would classify myself as average at best. This is one of the reasons that I do not care much about how I am dressed. Why does it matter what clothes I am wearing when I have a gigantic nose that people will be focused on anyway. With the realistic understanding that I am not part of the beautiful crowd, I have been freed from worrying about my looks. This is mostly liberating.

One reason why I am able to not dwell on this and let it take over as much as my guest blogger is because I am a male. Males have the ability to shrug looks off and can focus on their other strengths. An example of this is the funny guys, the sports guys, or the musicians. In my opinion, looks do not drive males self-worth as much as it seems it does for females. This is because we see males who most would not consider part of the beautiful crowd with women who we would. Just look at Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, or Modern Family. Males can play to their other strengths and be accepted. It doesn’t seem like women have that same opportunity. I would imagine that those individuals who identify outside of male or female struggle with this as much or more than the guest blogger.

This would not matter as much if it was just about finding a mate. As you read in the guest blog above looks affect your self-worth. If you believe that people see you in a negative light it changes the decisions you make. You may not want to go to that new situation where you don’t know a lot of people. If you do go to these events and you are not comfortable in your skin you will not be as apt to be social and make those networking connections that are so important both personally and professionally.

Looks affect our income. Take this article for example:

Harvard economist Markus Mobius and Wesleyan University economist Tanya Rosenblat published the seminal paper “Why Beauty Matters” in 1994. They found that in three different samples of workers, more attractive people consistently earned 12 to 14 percent more than unattractive people — regardless of gender — with evidence that the “labor market sorts the best-looking people into occupations where their looks are productive.”

To that end, a 2012 paper found that comely real estate brokers outperformed homely colleagues. (link)

What worries me the most is looks affect our students’ education. This comes from both students and teachers.

More uncomfortably, first- and sixth-graders think attractive teachers are kinder and happier, and college students thought that attractive professors were clearer, more helpful, and of higher overall quality.

In news to no one who was awkward in high school (or beyond), hot people tend to be super confident. Mobius and Rosenblat chalk this up to a self-fulfilling prophecy that will have been at work since kindergarten — teachers expect cute kids to do well (thanks to above-mentioned halo effect), so they give them more attention than ugly kids. With that attention comes better grades, more confidence, and greater comfort with public display. (link)

My final thought is that school shouldn’t be where “pretty privilege” begins to sprout. This means that we have to address this head on. When a student comes in looking so cute we dote on them just as much, not more, as when they get that lightbulb moment in class. We as educators should recognize that we have a bias towards our student’s looks. What we judge as cute is influenced by race, weight, or other physical features that students have no control over. Let’s be aware next time a student breaks a rule on how we handle the situation. Did we excuse their behavior because they are so cute? Did their looks (weight, gender, race) have anything to do with why we doled out consequences? Are we being fair when it comes to the rules in our class? (In this case fairness being more about equality than equity.) This is an area that I will be working to improve.


NFL and Dodgeball

Physical Education as a whole has a confidence problem. We are constantly worried about our brand. Don’t call us gym teachers because we don’t teach gym. Make sure you dress up so people won’t think X Y or Z about you. Let’s latch onto the term physical literacy because it legitimizes us as teachers. After all, if other teachers teach numeracy and literacy we will fit right in! Dodgeball is the devil! Not only should students not play it in class no one anywhere should play it! We feel inferior to everyone. I understand it completely. When people ask me what do I do I tell them I teach Physical Education and I cringe. I imagine what these people who may or may not be in education are thinking. I follow my job title up with a quick elevator speech of what a Quality Physical Education program look like. 

2016-12-18_0044.pngThe reason that I bring up all this up is that the NFL is having a dodgeball competition played by the professional players during the pro bowl. The audacity of them! The unmitigated gall! How could the NFL who supports physical education through the
Fuel up to Play 60 program do this to us? SHAPE America has an official position against it after all! Don’t they understand how much we have been stigmatized by that game? That game has single handily brought down the reputation of our noble profession. When people play that game a Physical Education teacher loses their whistle.

Let’s dissect the NFL and their affiliation with SHAPE America and physical education in general. Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by National Dairy Council and NFL, in collaboration with the USDA, to help encourage today’s youth to lead healthier lives. Physical Education and Health educators can apply for grants of $4,000 is available per school year to support teachers and their students as they work to implement Plays from the Fuel Up to Play 60 Playbook. They also provide wellness activities that are part of this program are based on best practices and encourage students to take a leadership role. Fuel Up to Play 60 is for every student, and there are ways for them to get involved in their own wellness — online and offline — every day of the year. We can safely say that the NFL and physical education have a great relationship. 

Now let’s look at some big stories that have recently come from the NFL. We have multiple players arrested for domestic violence. That is a nice way of saying that grown men who are physically at their peak brutally assault women who cannot protect themselves.

The book, “League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth,” reports that the NFL used its power and resources to discredit independent scientists and their work; that the league cited research data that minimized the dangers of concussions while emphasizing the league’s own flawed research; and that league executives employed an aggressive public relations strategy designed to keep the public unaware of what league executives really knew about the effects of playing the game.

Read that again. The NFL covered up the effects that concussions had on their players. Do you think that this didn’t affect high school players as well? Don’t you think they were suffering concussions when they were playing as well?

As SHAPE America members are we more worried about grown men playing dodgeball outside of a physical education class than what the NFL actually stands for? Where was this worry and outrage when we were accepting support from a league that employed physical abusers and covered up the destruction of their employees? No one said anything then. Suddenly play some dodgeball during pro bowl weekend and we care. We are outraged that an activity that has a high mvpa rate and is clearly a game that will increase a person’s physical literacy, would be held by an organization that supports SHAPE America.

Dodgeball is a fantastic game that should be played outside of physical education class. It should be encouraged for anyone who is not fearful of getting hit in the face to play. We do not play it in class due to the fact that it creates an imbalance of power and some students have the RIGHTFUL fear of getting hit in the face. People will get hit in the face when they play. If you understand this may happen and you willingly take that risk the game is a fantastic calorie burner.  

If we as a profession are worried about how we are perceived, start to create a Quality Physical Education program. Allow parents and stakeholders to see what you are doing in your class. Volunteer to be on school committees to show your dedication as well as how much of an asset you are to the team. If you want to make real changes don’t petition the NFL, join your state AHPERD or SHAPE. Dodgeball is not the problem. We ARE THE PROBLEM.

We have to be advocates for our program. We have to take on the team of teachers that we work with that are simply rolling out the ball. We have to start finding professional development outside of school hours to better ourselves. We have to show that we are more than just sports. We are the only subject that can teach the whole child. Grown adults playing dodgeball at a half time does not worry me. What worries me is the people posting videos on Twitter or Facebook that don’t tie into the standards. What worries me is a physical education teacher not being able to articulate why we won’t play dodgeball in our class to their students. What worries me is the policing of activities outside of our class because we are worried about how it makes our profession look. What worries me is that we are a profession that is twisting in the wind unsure of our identity.


Another vantage point: Watch Your Mouth! — Dr. Dorian Leigh Roberts

There are a couple of things that you won’t catch me doing. You won’t catch me eating fried chicken out in public. You won’t catch me eating watermelon out in public. You won’t catch me teaching students that the button on the iPad is called the “belly button.” You won’t catch me cussing in front […]

via Watch Your Mouth! — Dr. Dorian Leigh Roberts

The n-word

What would you do if you heard a student call another student the n-word in a cavalier and friendly manner? What would you do if a student called  you the n-word? I would imagine the tone of the child, the color of the child, and the color of your skin would play major factors into your response. The reason this is even a subject that I am writing about is that I was in a public Voxer group last week and a gentleman who is white used the entire word numerous times repeating what a student allegedly called him as well as their friends. 

I side voxed the person and told them that although I was not personally offended by the word I did not think it was a poor idea for them to say it. Every adult in America knows what word someone is referring to. It does not need to be used in its entirety. I personally thought they overstepped their bounds by using it. This person was open to my dialogue but ultimately disregarded my words.

I discussed this story with a friend of mine who is black and they asked me why I was not offended by the word. This forced me to figure out why I wasn’t offended? I know the word has a steep history of hate and violence behind it. I consider myself a humanitarian. Why am I not offended personally by its use? I came to the conclusion that the word has no power over me directly and that is why it didn’t offend me.

I also realized that on some level I should be offended by it because it hurts people I care about. This was an awareness that grew because I was challenged.

This brings us back to the original reason why the word was brought up in the Voxer group. What would you do if your students were using the n-word to each other and neither party was offended by it? I listened to numerous black people speak up about what they would do as well as what they have done in the past. They were all in agreement that the word in any form should not have a place in school.

How would I react if one of my students called me, a white male, that in school? I don’t know.

I have a couple of major takeaways from this exchange over the last week. The first one is that anyone who is not black should not be using the word in any form. Secondly, it is about the students comfort more than my own. Lastly, if you do hear the word it is a great time to grab that teachable moment. Ask the students do you know the history of the word? Does it make any of the other students uncomfortable when they use it? Why do they feel the need to use it? This could be the start of a great discussion and gain an insight into our student’s lives.

13th Amendment

The climate on social media has changed. The bridge that allies had been building over the past couple of years were suddenly torn down as if a hurricane had swept through. It was allies fault that the election went the way it did. We didn’t have the conversations with our families and friends that would have turned the tide. We didn’t campaign hard enough, shout loud enough, entice enough voters to come out and support the marginalized people of the United States. Allies did a lot of talking but were there enough action?

One of the messages that I have seen over and over again is that it is not the job of the downtrodden to teach the privileged. Where does that leave people like myself? How am I going to learn when the source of the pain and suffering is tired of speaking about it? The same way everyone else in the world learns anything. Read a book, go online, or watch a factual documentary that will explain the history of the United States and how it was built on the backs of blacks. So that is what I did. I watched the 13th Amendment on Netflix and live tweeted it because the message is so important.

I must be honest. This is not a movie for the faint of heart.  It started with this stat. The United States have 5% of the world’s population and houses 25% of the world’s prisoners. That stat alone should raise your eyebrow. In 1970 there were 340,000 people in prison. In 2015 there are 2.3 million prisoners. That is an extraordinary jump. We have 737 people in jail for every 100,000 residents. One million of the 2.3 million people locked up are black. It doesn’t make sense that a group of people that makes up 17% of the population makes up almost half of the people incarcerated. How is this the land of the free when we have so many people incarcerated? The movie helps explain the history behind this.

The 13th amendment states:
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

The important part of this amendment is that slavery/involuntary servitude was illegal unless that person was convicted of a crime. This “loophole” created a climate where people of color were arrested for,  “…minor crimes such as unemployment, loitering or gambling, and selling them to private employers through the convict lease system.” Once they were thrown in jail they were free labor for the South to rebuild itself. America was literally built on the backs of jailed People of Color.

I had no idea what the movie Birth of a Nation (the original)  was about let alone it being the most racist mainstream movie ever made. This movies creation created reverberations that are still being heard today.

What makes “Birth’’ most offensive is its depiction of its black characters — all of the prominent ones performed by white actors in blackface — during Reconstruction. Griffith depicts defeated Southerners being terrorized (and even disenfranchised from voting) by illiterate, corrupt and uncouth former slaves (seeking interracial marriage) under the influence of white Northern carpetbaggers. Link

I did not know that the movie created the burning cross as a symbol for the KKK.

Thomas Dixon included a pivotal cross-burning scene in his 1905 novel The Clansman; he was attempting to legitimize the Klan’s supposed connections to the Scottish clans. A decade later, D.W. Griffith brought The Clansman to the silver screen, eventually renaming it The Birth of a Nation. Exhilarated by Griffith’s sympathetic portrayal, Klansmen started burning crosses soon after to intimidate minorities, Catholics, and anyone else suspected of betraying the order’s ideals. The first reported burning took place in Georgia on Thanksgiving Eve, 1915. They have been associated with racist violence ever since. Link

The visuals from the movie were disturbing. It showed pictures of People of Color hanging from trees as well as images of slaves who were brutally beaten. It also showed pictures of Emmett Till. I had known the story of Emmett previously; however, seeing the video of his mother at the funeral on video brought it to a whole other level. Emmett’s mom had purposefully had an open casket so everyone could see the carnage that was done to him. This is not the history that is taught in schools.

Fast forward to Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. Nixon purposefully brainwashed Americans into correlating Hippies and marijuana as well as People of Color and heroin. This was a way to keep control of a population.

Reagan made possession of 5 grams of crack an immediate 5-year mandatory sentence while cocaine, essentially the same drug in a different form, needed 500 grams to receive the same sentence. Crack was used mostly in cities while cocaine was mostly used in the suburbs. Who do you think was affected by this difference in sentencing?

Bill Clinton created the three strikes and you’re out rule. This combined with mandatory sentencing took all the power out of the judge’s hands and placed it instead into the prosecutor’s hands. You can see how as a country we have used the legal system to keep People of Color behind the eight ball.

The most powerful part of the movie is that it shows the number of people being jailed each decade on a line graph. This is coupled with music of that decade. The LA Times states, “…music plays a key role as well, not only with songs like Nina Simone’s version of “Work Song” heard on the sound track, but with key words from rap lyrics like Public Enemy’s “Don’t Believe the Hype” appearing as arresting large type on the screen.” Link We forget that music is a political commentary as well as an artistic endeavor.

When we look at the current climate we see People of Color being shot in the back by police, placed in illegal choke-holds and suffocated, and dying on the way to jail in the custody of police. We still have people driving around with confederate flags on their trucks, people freaking out that the Mall of America hired a black Santa and a President who was supported by the KKK.

I am doing this movie a complete injustice. You need to watch it. I will end this blog with the closing thought of the movie. We ask ourselves how could people tolerate slavery and lynching back in the day? We are living and tolerating it now.