Nice White Lady

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Maysie Maysie's picture
Nice White Lady

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

This is my first attempt to link to a video.

It's a MadTV parody of the "white woman goes to inner-city school and inspires the students of colour". Hilarious.

[url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVF-nirSq5s]on You Tube[/url]

Michelle

HA! writer sent this to me a couple of months ago and I thought it was hysterical. I was thinking about this the other day when I was at the video store, because I saw a new release which was along that theme (except I'm not sure that the teacher was white - but it was the same inner-city-kids-being-taught-by-teacher-who-cares kind of thing).

Obviously the white lady teaching the inner city teens thing is kind of ridiculous, but I have to say, I have a soft spot for movies like "Stand and Deliver" where the teacher is from the same ethnic or racialized group.

Maysie Maysie's picture

I heard about the YouTube link from [url=http://www.racialicious.com/]racialicious.com[/url], my favourite blog. Some of the comments talk about that, and how different it is when the teacher shares the same backgrounds as the kids. Maybe films based on such stories don't make as much money. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

Free_Radical

To be fair, many of these movies - such as [i]Dangerous Minds[/i] or the latest, [i]Freedom Writers[/i] - are based on true stories, and it is impossible to dismiss them as "ridiculous". As was [i]Stand and Deliver[/i].

Then we have perhaps the most influential of these archetypes, [i]To Sir, With Love[/i], where Sidney Poitier is the inspiring teacher to a bunch of unruly, and mostly white, students in the London slums. Where does [i]that[/i] fit?

Stargazer

quote:


Then we have perhaps the most influential of these archetypes, To Sir, With Love, where Sidney Poitier is the inspiring teacher to a bunch of unruly, and mostly white, students in the London slums. Where does that fit?

It doesn't. Where are you going with this? What is your point?

Free_Radical

quote:


Originally posted by Stargazer:
[b]Where are you going with this? What is your point?[/b]

Merely objecting to the notion that:

A: only movies about "nice white ladies" helping kids in the ghetto get made, or are successful.

B: that these stories are "ridiculous", i.e. not true (or stretch one's belief).

TemporalHominid TemporalHominid's picture

very funny, writer directed me to that video as well...

I love Mad TV

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

I'm not certain, but if we investigated, I bet we would find the original story of "To Sir With Love" was a black teacher teaching mostly non-white kids. But that wouldn't sell as well.

Michelle

quote:


Originally posted by Free_Radical:
[b]To be fair, many of these movies - such as [i]Dangerous Minds[/i] or the latest, [i]Freedom Writers[/i] - are based on true stories, and it is impossible to dismiss them as "ridiculous". As was [i]Stand and Deliver[/i].[/b]

Who said anything about "Stand and Deliver" being ridiculous? I gave that as an example of a teacher movie that DOESN'T have a white person teaching inner city kids. The teacher in that movie wasn't white.

Michelle

quote:


Originally posted by Free_Radical:
[b]
Merely objecting to the notion that:

A: only movies about "nice white ladies" helping kids in the ghetto get made, or are successful.[/b]


Who said that? Did someone in this thread say that?

Free_Radical

quote:


Originally posted by Michelle:
[b]Who said anything about "Stand and Deliver" being ridiculous? I gave that as an example of a teacher movie that DOESN'T have a white person teaching inner city kids. The teacher in that movie wasn't white.[/b]

You didn't read my post carefully enough:

quote:

Originally posted by Free_Radical:
[b]To be fair, many of these movies ("these movies" meaning so-called "nice white lady" movies) - such as [i]Dangerous Minds[/i] or the latest, [i]Freedom Writers[/i] - are based on true stories, and it is impossible to dismiss them (again, "nice white lady" movies) as "ridiculous". As was [i]Stand and Deliver[/i] (another example of an "inspiring teacher" movie based on a true story, like the previous two).[/b]

[img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

quote:

Originally posted by Michelle:
[b]Who said that? Did someone in this thread say that?[/b]

Why, yes:

quote:

Originally posted by bigcitygal :
[b]Some of the comments talk about that, and how different it is when the teacher shares the same backgrounds as the kids. Maybe films based on such stories don't make as much money. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img] [/b]

Stargazer

To Sir, With Love is very popular and a classic. There goes that theory.

Michelle

Oh, that's weird, because what you quoted by BCG certainly didn't say that "only movies about "nice white ladies" get made."

Nor did she say that they were the only ones that were successful. She suggested that perhaps movies about nice white ladies were MORE successful.

See, that's what happens when people who clearly aren't sympathetic with the purpose of this forum enter threads here just to pick apart strawperson arguments that never got made in the first place. Pretty boring for the rest of us. Pretty distracting, too.

TemporalHominid TemporalHominid's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Frustrated Mess:
[b]I'm not certain, but if we investigated, I bet we would find the original story of "To Sir With Love" was a black teacher teaching mostly non-white kids. But that wouldn't sell as well.[/b]

maybe, but that sounds like speculation. That movie was made in 1967, so they may have made some conscious decisions to push the envelope, but not too radically.

Sidney Poitier made several movies that pushed the envelope by being topical, and introducing the public to social and progressive ideas e.g. Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (1967)

These movies were made in a different social context than today. Britain for example was a hot bed of racial hatred in '67 (some places still are today), my parents' attitudes to people of colour even today are influenced by the attitudes of the time. The film, To Sir, With Love shows a sanitised and , fictional London in that the movie toned down the racial rhetoric.

"I wouldn't mind having this lot in my stocking for Christmas. "

"Ah, so you're the new lamb for the slaughter - or should I say, black sheep?"

[ 29 August 2007: Message edited by: TemporalHominid ]

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Yeah, but it is based on a true story about a black man who was an engineer and couldn't get a job in his field. So he took a teaching position in a school in East London that was home, primarily, to poor, immigrant families. So, while it is speculation, I think it is fair to bet most of his students were non-white, unlike the movie.

Free_Radical

quote:


Originally posted by Michelle:
[b]See, that's what happens when people who clearly aren't sympathetic with the purpose of this forum enter threads here just to pick apart strawperson arguments that never got made in the first place. Pretty boring for the rest of us. Pretty distracting, too.[/b]

Just pointing out that it's a little unfair accuse these so-called "nice white lady" movies of racism or holding up false stereotypes when many are based on true stories. If Erin Gruwell really did teach, and inspire, students at a high school in Long Beach, how can you call the story "ridiculous"?

If there are racist stereotypes at play in the writing, production and success of these films (and perhaps there are), wouldn't a review of the genre contribute to our understanding?

Unless someone can show me otherwise, there are several of these "nice white lady" movies based on true stories. There are also several true stories, and successful films, where the teacher is not white.

Likewise, the genre also includes numerous fictional stories, again with both white and non-white teachers, to varying degrees of "seriousness", quality, and yes - completely unfair portrayals of non-white students. ([i]Sister Act 2[/i], [i]Blackboard Jungle[/i], [i]Take the Lead[/i], [i]The Principal[/i], etc.).

[ 29 August 2007: Message edited by: Free_Radical ]

TemporalHominid TemporalHominid's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Free_Radical:
[b]
Just pointing out that it's a little unfair accuse these so-called "nice white lady" movies of racism or holding up false stereotypes when many are based on true stories. If Erin Gruwell really did teach, and inspire, students at a high school in Long Beach, how can you call the story "ridiculous"?

[/b]


I think you are missing the point. It's not necessarily that these archetypal movies/books are racist (the white director, the white writers, and the white executives may have a bias).

The point is that the archetype of the "inspirational" story where whitey saves the day and takes on the 'white man's burden' of teaching the p.o.c. students euro-centric manners and protestant work ethic is done over and over again.

The MadTV skit sums up the archetype succinctly, that's what parody and satire aims to do.

These stories where whitey does good is attractive to white people. The archetype is not all that removed from "The Education of Little Tree" written by the segregationist and white supremacist Forrest Carter (which was found out to be fictional).

It does not matter if "whitey saves the day" stories are based on true stories or that they are inspirational to white people, because the archetype story is still largely fictional and sanitised.

It has been sanitised for consumption, the archetype is Euro-centric, it is about white people's salvation, and has to appeal to white people. The subject is not interested so much in the community whitey saves, or the individual students whitey saves, but in the redemption of the white person. The archetype is a redemption story.

If the archetype is about empowerment, it's not about the community's or the students' empowerment, but about the nice white lady's empowerment, to overcome guilt, to succesfuly confront and conquer the "white man's burden". The empowerment and redemption comes at the expense of the community and at the expense of the students she comes to save.

[ 29 August 2007: Message edited by: TemporalHominid ]

AfroHealer

quote:


Originally posted by TemporalHominid:
[b]I think you are missing the point. It's not necessarily that these archetypal movies/books are racist (the white director, the white writers, and the white executives may have a bias).

The point is that the archetype of the "inspirational" story where whitey saves the day and takes on the 'white man's burden' of teaching the p.o.c. students euro-centric manners and protestant work ethic is done over and over again.

The MadTV skit sums up the archetype succinctly, that's what parody and satire aims to do.

These stories where whitey does good is attractive to white people. The archetype is not all that removed from "The Education of Little Tree" written by the segregationist and white supremacist Forrest Carter (which was found out to be fictional).

It does not matter if "whitey saves the day" stories are based on true stories or that they are inspirational to white people, because the archetype story is still largely fictional and sanitised.

It has been sanitised for consumption, the archetype is Euro-centric, it is about white people's salvation, and has to appeal to white people. The subject is not interested so much in the community whitey saves, or the individual students whitey saves, but in the redemption of the white person. The archetype is a redemption story.

If the archetype is about empowerment, it's not about the community's or the students' empowerment, but about the nice white lady's empowerment, to overcome guilt, to succesfuly confront and conquer the "white man's burden". The empowerment and redemption comes at the expense of the community and at the expense of the students she comes to save.

[ 29 August 2007: Message edited by: TemporalHominid ][/b]


Damm TemporarlHominid i could not have said it any better.

Here are a few questions for those who can;t see the racist/whitesupremacy slant of the "nice white lady" movies.

Ask yourself this.

Where are the stories/movies about the African, Native & Hispanic teachers who are doing great work in their communities?

Why in our consciouses memories do we only remmeber a movie from 1967 .. and maybe one other in recent times where the teacher making the difference was from the community that they served?

Why are there little to no stories/movies about the damages that "nice white ladies" have done to our communities, in their attempt to save us from ourselves. ( There is more than ample data/evidence about that kicking around ) ?

It may not be conscious to the majority Eurocentric population that anything is wrong with this warped/biased/racist picture of reality that is being painted, but it is blatantly obvious to many of us.

Checkout this April 17, 2006 rabble article on

[url=http://www.rabble.ca/everyones_a_critic.shtml?sh_itm=901fbf73013dd45e188..., the Media & the Myth of Community [/url]

Which explores related issues.

TemporalHominid TemporalHominid's picture

quote:


Originally posted by AfroHealer:
[b]

Why are there little to no stories/movies about the damages that "nice white ladies" have done to our communities, in their attempt to save us from ourselves. ( There is more than ample data/evidence about that kicking around ) ?

.[/b]


Good question AfroHealer. When it comes down to it, maybe this is the question that has to be asked. This is a question that never occured to me.

1234567

My dad used to always say to me "nice people can be racist too" Since then I've decided that those kind of nice people seem live in their own little bubbles. They are not only racist, they are sexist, they are homophobic. Quite frankly, they don't like change. They are frightened of it. One of my friends worked on her friend's dad for years. He was one of those "nice" people about aboriginal people. It was towards the end of his years that he finally "got it" and after that he was our biggest and loudest non-aboriginal voice. When he got it he really got it!

Free_Radical

Thank you for your thoughtful response, TH. It is very interesting.

Perhaps my defence of many of these movies because they're true doesn't quite stand up.

Though I'd definitely choose that over one of the alternatives - where a story is constructed out of whole cloth of a white teacher saving the day. At least with a true story there is [i]some[/i] protection from a writer injecting their false assumptions and biases.

At the end of the day though, we don't make a movie out of [i]every[/i] story of an inspiring teacher - and there is obviously selection involved. Who's story do ultimately choose to tell? There may be a tendency for film producers to be drawn towards the "nice white lady" archetypes, based on who is likely to consume them.

At the same time though, the E.R. Braithwaite's and Jaime Escalante's of the world [i]do[/i] seem to get their fair share of coverage as well. Likewise, is it not the same audience who is expected to consume their stories as well? I.E. the same audience that the film producers at the same time appear biased towards selecting "nice white lady" movies for?

Maybe it's a mistake to be focusing on the [i]teacher[/i] - though it's compelling to ask who is being held up as a role model or authority figure - and asking if they are a white person ([i]Freedom Writers[/i]) or someone who is a minority ([i]Stand and Deliver[/i]).

Instead, the [i]students[/i] (depicted as - take your pick - unruly, illiterate, troubled, criminals, violent, etc.) who need saving [i]are[/i] typically non-white.

Michelle

quote:


Originally posted by AfroHealer:
[b]Ask yourself this.

Where are the stories/movies about the African, Native & Hispanic teachers who are doing great work in their communities?

Why in our consciouses memories do we only remmeber a movie from 1967 .. and maybe one other in recent times where the teacher making the difference was from the community that they served?[/b]


It's funny, you know, I like this genre, but I've never seen "To Sir With Love" - I've only heard the title, and I didn't realize it was a movie from the teacher-teaches-the-hopeless genre. The only movie that I could think of, off the top of my head, was Stand and Deliver, which is, as you say, a teacher from the community he served.

I think I must have seen the trailers from Dangerous Minds and Freedom Writers, though, because I had this vague notion in my mind about having seen the Nice White Lady "done" but I didn't remember the names of the movies, and I haven't seen them.

This isn't to say that my experience is typical, and I'm not negating what you're saying at all Afro Healer. Certainly those two new movies, Dangerous Minds and Freedom Writers (which I just read about today) are exactly as you say.

I think it's interesting that movies like this are always done with the teacher as the central theme. As TH was saying, this is geared to a white audience, so we can feel good about ourselves as we watch it. I would probably get sucked into that feeling as much as the next white person if I were to watch those movies (and maybe I will, just to see). Because they're meant to speak to well-meaning white people like me, to ease the burden of our "white liberal guilt". [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

Even if they're true stories - as was stated before in this thread, they're still told from the perspective of the white people involved in the story, and it's still the Great White Saviour theme.

TemporalHominid TemporalHominid's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Michelle:
[b]

Even if they're true stories - as was stated before in this thread, they're still told from the perspective of the white people involved in the story, and it's still the Great White Saviour theme.[/b]


yes,

plus the idea that p.o.c. students or visible minority students are only valuable if they and their parents submit to the saviour and "clean up" and reform .

The redemption archetype requires the p.o.c. cooperate and be moulded into the image of their saviour, and that is their only value in the story. The p.o.c. students, their parents, the community on whole needs to be erased, reprogrammed and re-booted for the one white person's redemption to succeed.

AfroHealer

quote:


Originally posted by TemporalHominid:
[b]

yes,

plus the idea that p.o.c. students or visible minority students are only valuable if they and their parents submit to the saviour and "clean up" and reform .

The redemption archetype requires the p.o.c. cooperate and be moulded into the image of their saviour, and that is their only value in the story. The p.o.c. students, their parents, the community on whole needs to be erased, reprogrammed and re-booted for the one white person's redemption to succeed.[/b]


Damm that was righton !!! You hit the nail on the head.

OK TemporalHomid .. Um . YOU rock . um . STop reading my mind and writting my thoughts for me?
What am i gona do on rabble if you say it all? [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

I know i can say .. Keep UP the good work!!

OK Ok .. I'll remember the rasta teachings of I & I. I'll Smile and appreciate the brilliance and beauty of your mind, and give you a virtual *hug* [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img] .

SO I will add to my list of questions.

Why don't we see stories about how the "nice white laddy", discovered that she was racist, well meaning but misguided ?

and about how the youth and the rest of the community taught her about life and then proceeded to have her taking the kids and other leaders from the "inner city" . .to go teach the rest of the "nice white peeps" how to keep it real, how to care for each other and love each other. How to really be human. To be your brother & sisters keepers.

Stories like that will show/teach that there is a lot to be learned from us.

As the saying goes "one love, one heart"

"emancipate yourself from mental slavery, only we can free our minds .." Bob Marley

TemporalHominid TemporalHominid's picture

quote:


Originally posted by AfroHealer:
[b]

Damm that was righton !!! You hit the nail on the head.

OK TemporalHomid .. Um . YOU rock . um . STop reading my mind ....

I'll Smile and appreciate the brilliance and beauty of your mind, and give you a virtual *hug* .

"emancipate yourself from mental slavery, only we can free our minds .." Bob Marley[/b]


yeah I don't know what's going on there, don't expect that too often from me, heh. Thanks for the hug.

good questions by the way AfroHealer, I like your use of humour to succinctly highlight the issues, and the Marley quote fits so well in the thread.

As an educator myself (I am a male Caucasian btw) I feel I should aim for a philosophy as summed up in that Bob Marley quote.

I try offer children the best tools humanity has if they want them, and leave it up to the kids to decide what they want to do with those tools. I am stumbling and bumbling along trying to figure out how to do that, and not become tempted in becoming the students' saviour.

We educators have the benefit of hindsight, but we seem to be very good at repeating past mistakes. Education attempts to include the diverse communities, but sometimes we make decisions without the input of our communities. Our text books and euro-centric curriculum is suspect, and educators on the whole (being human) fear change. Educators are not perfect yet, and we need to be watched and challenged and encouraged by communites to be inclusive and adapt to the needs of the community.

Personally and professionally, I have growth as a human, citizen and educator to do yet. The one thing that does not need growth are my narcissistic tendencies [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 29 August 2007: Message edited by: TemporalHominid ]

Maysie Maysie's picture

I'm really feeling the love for AfroHealer and TemporalHominid right now. Thanks to you both for your amazing contributions. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

Bacchus

quote:


Why don't we see stories about how the "nice white laddy", discovered that she was racist, well meaning but misguided ?

Driving Miss Daisy?

And yes I realize one movie does not a movement make, but does that one fit?

AfroHealer

quote:


Originally posted by bigcitygal:
[b]I'm really feeling the love for AfroHealer and TemporalHominid right now. Thanks to you both for your amazing contributions. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img] [/b]

Ok .. are you ready TemporalHominid .. ok lets go one, Two THRE .. *GROUP HUG* LOL ..

Yeah BCG .. like i always say .. "its all about the love"

TemporalHominid TemporalHominid's picture

quote:


Originally posted by bigcitygal:
[b]I'm really feeling the love for AfroHealer and TemporalHominid right now. Thanks to you both for your amazing contributions. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img] [/b]

you are welcome

quote:

Originally posted by AfroHealer:
[b]

Ok .. are you ready TemporalHominid .. ok lets go one, Two THRE .. *GROUP HUG* LOL ..

[/b]


[img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 30 August 2007: Message edited by: TemporalHominid ]

Pogo Pogo's picture

The tough part is that it is the audience that is driving this. Life presents so much stress already (real and self-imposed) that for most people movies are a chance to put the stress aside for 90 minutes. Bring home a movie that tells you to look deep into yourself and people will send someone else for the movies the next week.

CMOT Dibbler

quote:


Originally posted by Pogo:
[b]The tough part is that it is the audience that is driving this. Life presents so much stress already (real and self-imposed) that for most people movies are a chance to put the stress aside for 90 minutes. Bring home a movie that tells you to look deep into yourself and people will send someone else for the movies the next week.[/b]

It dosen't have to be a movie that tells you to look deep inside yourself. It just needs to be a movie about teachers from minority communities helping their neighborhoods, cities or towns prosper without the help of middle class white suburbanites. Such tales can be told a multitude of different ways. Not every film about brown people absolutely has to be "Do The Right Thing".

CMOT Dibbler

...or "soul food" *shudder* [img]eek.gif" border="0[/img] [img]frown.gif" border="0[/img]