In 1990, Gina did something that surprised many, given the pain that divorce had brought upon her own life when she was just a little girl. Gina, like her mother, left her husband. And, like her mother, she did so after a long extramarital affair. A final similarity was that there was no effort to win custody of her two children. She wanted to break away and begin life anew with her second husband.
Unlike her mother, she suffered no adverse effects in the workplace. Her divorce never really came up at work except among good friends who offered their support. She continued to teach for a number of years until an unfortunate incident changed her life in the course of a day.
Ebonics was a topic of discussion in the realm of education in the 1990s. In fact, one day in front of class, she was asked her opinion of Ebonics by one of her black students. Her reply was blunt. She told him Ebonics was harmful. She said it taught young black people that they were “nothing more than niggers” when, in fact, they are just like everyone else. She concluded by saying “Therefore, they should talk like everyone else.”
Gina’s use of the word “nigger” in the classroom set off a firestorm that resulted in her termination. The termination occurred over the protests of the young black man who asked the question and who insisted he was not offended by her answer. In fact, he agreed with it.
Most people would say that America has become a more tolerant place since the 1960s – a land relatively free of condemnation. That view is more than simplistic. It is wrong. The nature of judgment, not the level of judgment, has changed drastically in the last half-century. The cases of Mrs. White and her daughter demonstrate that clearly.
Mrs. White was given a pass on her use of a racial epithet in class in the 1960s because it was not seen as injurious to any individual. It wasn’t being used as an insult. It was being used to tell a student what he was not. But she was dismissed after her divorce because her behavior was seen as injurious to several individuals. It hurt her husband and children and set a bad example for her students.
Unlike her mother, Gina taught in the era of postmodern education where judgments are made on the basis of group considerations. People who see the truth as defined by power struggles are inclined to see our institutions as oppressive. And that is why Gina was supported rather than fired after her divorce. She was making a statement, not just about herself, but about women everywhere. They are free to be happy rather than subjugate themselves in deference to patriarchal oppression.
But postmodernism would not tolerate her later transgression along the lines of race. She did not offend the black student in her class. She offended a race. And groups have consumed the rights once held by individuals.
In education today, there would be no speech codes without postmodernism. And there would be no postmodernism without the influence of Marx. It’s no mystery that speech codes are used to defend the Marxist ideas that gave them life. They play the role their parents assigned them.
Author’s Note: Thanks to Dennis McCallum, editor of The Death of Truth, for inspiring this column.