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Teacher Assigns Extremely Offensive Math Homework

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Teacher Assigns Extremely Offensive Math Homework

Lakeland Union High School Math Assignment Has Lac Du Flambeau Members Upset Over Cultural Insensitivity


Lakeland Union High School Homework

An offensive math homework assignment issued to students at Lakeland Union High School has members of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Wisconsin urging administrators to bring more cultural sensitivity to the school’s curriculum, Indian Country Today Media Network reports.

Abbey Thompson, a member of the Lac du Flambeau Tribe, posted a photo of her son Noah’s completed homework assignment to Facebook, attracting inflammatory responses from across the country and Canada.

“What happened after Chief Short Cake Died?” is the question posed at the top of the assignment — the answer to which was “Squaw Bury Short Cake.”

Richard Vesbach, a third-year math teacher at LUHS and the one responsible for assigning the homework, has since written a number of apology letters.

Vesbach explains that he found the assignment in an outdated book of worksheets from the 1980s that had been left in the classroom when he started teaching. He says he has gotten rid of the book.

“None of that excuses what has happened and I take full responsibility for my actions,” Vesbach wrote. “No one else is to blame but me. As a result, LUHS has appropriately sent me home for the day. I recommended that they not pay me.”

School administrators would not comment on whether Vesbach would face further disciplinary action.

In January, a suburban Atlanta teacher resigned following an investigation over third-grade students being assigned math homework that included word problems about slavery.

One of the problems read: "Each tree has 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?"

Another was: "If Frederick got two beatings each day, how many beatings did he get in one week?"

lakeland union high school math assignment

by on Oct. 7, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Replies (141-150):
krysstizzle
by DeepThought on Oct. 8, 2012 at 8:45 PM

It seems like you're deliberately missing my point, which is simply this: words mean something, and a seemingly inocuous word can most certainly be a racially charged slur (i.e. colored or squaw).

Do you seriously not know that calling a black person 'colored' would be a very racist thing to say?

And I have yet to hear anyone say that "brown skinned" is a racial slur. I've never heard it used as such. 

Quoting EireLass:

I'm not Native American. A couple of Native American women (they say they are, we don't really know each other) have said it means different things.

If you read through the entire post, she is the only one speaking in physical rage. Others are talking in a teaching way.

A black and a colored are two different things aren't they? We're all colors, but we're not all black.

And I don't call anyone anything so none of this really means anything to me.

But now that I think of it....remembering my daughter at 3. She called someone "brown-skinned".....wonder if she should have been punched in the face.

Quoting krysstizzle:

You asked the question "how is it that it can mean 2 totally different things within the same culture?" then went on to insinuate that that would only happen if a person was being unhappy and negative, which is (obviously) patently untrue. So the comparison is fair.

Quoting EireLass:

I thought we were talking about Native Americans?

Quoting krysstizzle:

So you think it would be entirely appropriate to call a black person "colored"? Since, of course, colored has more than one meaning in this culture. 

Quoting EireLass:

Well, yes, for you. Because you can only allow yourself for it to mean you're a cunt and nothing more. How is it that it can mean 2 totally different things within the same cultures? Or is it more that some people, such as yourself, will do anything to find negativity in things. That you are by nature, not happy unless you can bring misery into something? That you can only be violent rather than enlightening, etc?

Quoting LauraKW:

Ostensibly "colored" is merely a distiction of skin pigmentation. Though grammatically appropriate, I doubt a black person would tell you it is a term of respect. "Squaw" is not a term of respect no matter how it is spun.
Quoting EireLass:

So even though it only means woman, wouldn't you want to educate your husband and children on that? And wouldn't it really only make you roll your eyes at someone who's trying to be tough (by using derogatory terms) and has no clue that he's addressing you respectfully? If anything, I'd think it would make you laugh in their face.

Quoting fmchavez:

I have only ever been called a squaw in a derogatory manner. That word has horrible connotations despite the fact that it actually just means woman (especially since few who actually use this word know that). I would not be happy if my daughters brought this home. My husband would likely flip his lid (and that takes a lot from him, he doesn't even honk the horn in the car when it's warranted).


LauraKW
by "Dude!" on Oct. 8, 2012 at 8:50 PM
I apparently gave you more credit than you deserved. You're second sentence makes no sense. I don't understand why you're fixated on making this personal.

Quoting EireLass:

Well, I find that hard to believe. CafeMom is not your spiritual tribal ground, yet you'd use physical force as opposed to calm information.

Quoting LauraKW:

I can see by your comments that comprehension is not your friend today. I'll use small words if it will help you. Don't come up to me at a spritual event on holy grounds that belong to my tribe and call me a racial slur that insults my people. That is not the time or place for me to teach anything. You would have to be a guest to be there at all. Outside of that scenario I would - and have - educated people on the ways of my tribe and Indians in general. I had a lengthy conversation today with my Samoan co-worker about the differences and similarities between our people. We both learn a lot from each other.



Quoting EireLass:

I'm not as thin-skinned as you I guess. I have been called plenty. I hardly felt the urge to 'punch someone in the face' over it. How you address it is really what matters. And we can see by your comments, you don't have the ability to teach, to bring thoughtful advice to, or to calmly correct anyone. You can only retaliate physically.....over a word. You've referred to yourself as a middle aged woman. I hate to think this is how you react to people when they say things you don't like. They say the world's going to hell in a handbasket. Are you carrying it?

Quoting LauraKW:

You might ask that of a person who would call someone a racial slur to their face.


Quoting EireLass:

Why would you put yourself in such a dangerous position over one word?

Quoting LauraKW:

I would likely punch you in the face.


Quoting EireLass:

And what would you do if someone did that?

Quoting ChancesMommy07:

If someone was to walk up to me at a powwow and call me a squaw I'm certainly not going to laugh (and it has happened) nor would I be happy to see it on my sons homework. But he did apologize



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LauraKW
by "Dude!" on Oct. 8, 2012 at 9:00 PM
For the third time - this isn't about the teacher for me. This is about the words on the paper. This is about mocking Native Americans. Not sure why the focus lasered onto the word "squaw", but "Chief Short Cake" is what originally caught my eye. I can't see the OP on my phone when I quote, but the other name used - put together they are mocking and offensive. Again, has nothing to do with the teacher, he is merely the catalyst that brought the offensive math page to light.

Quoting Lizardannie1966:

Again, it depends on how that slur is taken, too and whether or not a person can look at what's written or said (how it's written/said, too) and not take it personally depending.

He made a mistake and that mistake should not speak for the rest of his ability or his "brightness."

It's apparent that the "joke" on the paper assigned was not intended to be derogatory and that's how I see it.

Quoting LauraKW:

Intent does not make a slur less derogatory. It can pardon the user to a degree, but it doesn't change the slur. Again, the teacher is irrelevant to me. He is a dumbass for either giving material to his students that he hadn't perused or for giving his students material with a slur that he found inconsequential. Neither option makes him out to be a bright candle.



Quoting Lizardannie1966:

But did we call things on their inability to be politically correct as much as we do now?

I don't recall that.

Why are slurs more of an issue now? Well again, for me, it goes back to his (the teacher) intent. I don't believe he intended any harm.

I do think that there are too many who draw conclusions too quickly when it comes to this sort of thing without really stopping, digesting and thinking it through--is the "slur" meant as an offense or was it a mistake on the person who said it? IE...the case with this teacher.

Had he done it on purpose (creating that assignment himself and not caring what the implications might be), my arguments would be entirely different. But he didn't and that matters to me, personally.

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Lizardannie1966
by on Oct. 8, 2012 at 9:04 PM

I'm aware of what this has been for you.

I've already stated how I feel about all of it--and more than three times.

I don't see the words on that paper as intentionally mocking Native Americans.

Quoting LauraKW:

For the third time - this isn't about the teacher for me. This is about the words on the paper. This is about mocking Native Americans.
krysstizzle
by DeepThought on Oct. 8, 2012 at 9:05 PM

I do. 

Quoting Lizardannie1966:

I'm aware of what this has been for you.

I've already stated how I feel about all of it--and more than three times.

I don't see the words on that paper as intentionally mocking Native Americans.

Quoting LauraKW:

For the third time - this isn't about the teacher for me. This is about the words on the paper. This is about mocking Native Americans.


Lizard_Lina
by Silver Member on Oct. 8, 2012 at 9:09 PM
I don't get the offensive part?


Quoting Lizardannie1966:

I'm aware of what this has been for you.

I've already stated how I feel about all of it--and more than three times.

I don't see the words on that paper as intentionally mocking Native Americans.

Quoting LauraKW:

For the third time - this isn't about the teacher for me. This is about the words on the paper. This is about mocking Native Americans.

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LauraKW
by "Dude!" on Oct. 8, 2012 at 9:25 PM
Native Americans - I prefer the term Indian - cultures are not the same. We have our own languages - not just dialects, completely different languages. Our own customs, our own histories. Tribes have different governments, different Constitutions, different laws, different treaties with the US govt. We are all indigenous to this hemisphere, and our tribes basically had similar shitty outcomes with the US govt. I'm Cherokee. We tend to have higher or more prominent cheekbones than other tribes. I've noticed that Kiowa tend to have a sharper nasal ridge. I'm not terribly familiar with the Navajo but they seem to have darker skin than Cherokee in general - perhaps because the Cherokee originate from the North Carolina area and lived more in shaded areas than the Navajo who lived in more arid sun-baked lands.

Using a word from one language, one culture, when there are hundreds of tribes - using one word to generally address all Native American women is marginalizing at best.

I find it ironic that you threw the term "Oriental" in there. Something "not quite right" about the way I talk online - that is hyterical, I'm going to work that into a conversation somewhere.


Quoting EireLass:

"Within the same culture".....I'm saying it this way, rather than create a long drawn out paragraph. I figured you might be smart enough to catch on. Native Americans...not really grouping them together, yet I am. (meaning them as opposed to all people ie. Oriental, African American, etc etc) And because the only ones who've talked about this with experience are (supposed) Native Americans, and have identified they are with a particular tribe. From my experience, no they are not all the same.

You have come out with your fists up....I don't think I was first to present you as a negative person. I'd say you did very well on that, yourself. There is something 'not quite right' with a person who talks as you have, online.

Quoting LauraKW:

Did I ever say "squaw" meant "cunt"? "Within the same cultures" - what cultures are you referring to? Do you think all Native Americans are the same, that we all have one culture? You seem very focused on presenting me as a negative person, intent on trying to make this personally about me. Why?

Quoting EireLass:

Well, yes, for you. Because you can only allow yourself for it to mean you're a cunt and nothing more. How is it that it can mean 2 totally different things within the same cultures? Or is it more that some people, such as yourself, will do anything to find negativity in things. That you are by nature, not happy unless you can bring misery into something? That you can only be violent rather than enlightening, etc?

Quoting LauraKW:

Ostensibly "colored" is merely a distiction of skin pigmentation. Though grammatically appropriate, I doubt a black person would tell you it is a term of respect. "Squaw" is not a term of respect no matter how it is spun.

Quoting EireLass:

So even though it only means woman, wouldn't you want to educate your husband and children on that? And wouldn't it really only make you roll your eyes at someone who's trying to be tough (by using derogatory terms) and has no clue that he's addressing you respectfully? If anything, I'd think it would make you laugh in their face.

Quoting fmchavez:

I have only ever been called a squaw in a derogatory manner. That word has horrible connotations despite the fact that it actually just means woman (especially since few who actually use this word know that). I would not be happy if my daughters brought this home. My husband would likely flip his lid (and that takes a lot from him, he doesn't even honk the horn in the car when it's warranted).


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LauraKW
by "Dude!" on Oct. 8, 2012 at 9:28 PM
How do laws apply to me? As laws.

Quoting EireLass:

Curious as to how you believe they apply to you.

Quoting LauraKW:

As you are a former law enforcement officer I think you're likely more than familiar with the laws outside of tribal lands.

Quoting EireLass:

So how does the law go when it's done outside of 'sacred tribal land'?

Quoting LauraKW:

You didn't quite understand - laws are different on tribal lands. Sacred grounds are not the factor for the difference in laws.

Quoting Lizardannie1966:

The laws do not apply on sacred ground--the same laws that would apply off--yes? I now understand what you've meant about that.

Quoting LauraKW:

The original scenario presented - I forgot by whom - stated she was called "squaw" at a powwow. My people / clan / tribe / however you want to make the distinction have stompdances. They are held on tribal lands. I would not go to jail for punching someone who called me a racial slur at a stompdance on sacred land. I also would not react in such a manner if I were not on sacred land at the stompgrounds for a spiritual event. For instance, if someone at the PTA called me that name we would likely have a discussion about why that is not appropriate.

Quoting Lizardannie1966:

Don't get me wrong--what you describe is something that I believe would cause many people to want to ball up their fist and hit some chin. But it's a matter of deciding what's important? Attempting to knock (literally) some sense into someone who probably doesn't possess much sense to begin with? or spending a night in jail and facing possible future legal problems? I understand the anger behind the scenario you've described. I just wouldn't go that far. I'm sorry for went you went through in high school. :(

Quoting LauraKW:

I'm a middle-aged woman who has only ever hit someone when I was hit first (I was physically abused by a boyfriend in high school). I abhor violence. But if you were to come up to me on sacred grounds at a spiritual event and call me a racial slur - yes, my likely instinct would be to punch you. You say it would be a very rare reason for you to deck someone - you just found a very rare reason.

Quoting Lizardannie1966:

I'm not going to call her ignorant. But I guess I just don't see how you go from one extreme to the other and what is the goal? Showing off your amazing ability to punch someone for being a shit dick? Punching them will not teach them to not make a comment like that but I suppose it will make the person doing the punching feel better. :/ I'll never understand the whole, "I'll punch em" thing. It would be a very rare reason for me to ball up my little hands and deck someone and I'm a middle-aged woman who has yet to do so. *sigh Everyone is different, I suppose.

Quoting EireLass:

Ignorance at it's finest.

Quoting Lizardannie1966:

You can't be serious? What if it wasn't even meant in a derogatory way? You'd still give a person a right hook?

Quoting LauraKW:

I would likely punch you in the face.

Quoting EireLass:

And what would you do if someone did that?


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Lizardannie1966
by on Oct. 8, 2012 at 9:30 PM

You're not alone.


Quoting Lizard_Lina:

I don't get the offensive part?


Quoting Lizardannie1966:

I'm aware of what this has been for you.

I've already stated how I feel about all of it--and more than three times.

I don't see the words on that paper as intentionally mocking Native Americans.

Quoting LauraKW:

For the third time - this isn't about the teacher for me. This is about the words on the paper. This is about mocking Native Americans.


LauraKW
by "Dude!" on Oct. 8, 2012 at 9:45 PM
That's nice, but I'm not Algonkian. Why should I appreciate being called a word that is not a positive part of my heritage and has only been used rudely or maliciously towards me?

Quoting yourspecialkid:

 I thought this was very interesting...


http://www.nativeweb.org/pages/legal/squaw.html


From the piece...I recommend reading the rest.



Kwai kwai. Greetings. I write to you as an alnobaskwa, an Abenaki woman, questioning the motion to gut our original language in the name of political correctness. Over the past few decades, in my travels as a traditional storyteller and historical consultant, I have met many indigenous speakers and elders who are concerned at the efforts of otherwise well-meaning people to remove the word "squaw" from the English language.


Squaw means the totality of being female


Squaw is NOT an English word. It IS a phoenetic rendering of an Algonkian word that does NOT translate to "a woman's private parts." The word "squaw" - as "esqua," "squa," "skwa," "skwe" and other variants - traditionally means the totality of being female, not just the female anatomy. The word has been interpreted by modern activists as a slanderous assault against Native American women. But traditional Algonkian speakers, in both Indian and English, still say words like "nidobaskwa" = a female friend, "manigebeskwa" = woman of the woods, or "Squaw Sachem" = female chief. When Abenaki people sing the Birth Song, they address "nuncksquassis" = "little woman baby."


During the contact period, northeastern American Indian people taught the colonists the word "squaw," and whites incorporated it into their speech. English observers described women's medicinal plants such as "squaw vine" and "squaw root," among many others. There are rumors about the word's usage as an insult by French fur traders among western tribes who were not Algonkian speakers. But the insult was in the usage, not in the original word.


Any word can hurt when used as a weapon. Banning the word will not erase the past, and will only give the oppressors power to define our language. What words will be next? Pappoose? Sachem? Pow Wow? If we accept the slander, and internalize the insult, we discredit our female ancestors who felt no shame at hearing the word spoken. To ban indigenous words discriminates against Native people and their languages. Are we to be condemned to speaking only the "King's English?" What about all the words from other Native American languages?

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