I have noted stories of high schools dropping honors and AP classes in the name of so-called ‘equity’ like this lately, with a great deal of sadness and sympathy for those kids who would have benefited most from more challenging classes. The intelligent, motivated and intellectually-gifted students are bored beyond all reason by the standard classes – I know that I certainly was, and my high school days were from 1969-1972 in a largely white blue-collar working-class to no-class suburb of Los Angeles. This was when California public schools were still pretty good, and students were ‘tracked’ by abilities as well as interest in higher learning. I’d estimate that only thirty or forty out of a graduating class of 600 or so were tracked towards the Honors/AE classes; Sunland-Tujunga was, as I said before, a blue-collar, working-class community, with a small sprinkling of middle-class. My own mother was about as pushy a tiger-mom as there was, and her collegiate ambitions for us didn’t go much beyond the state university system, never mind any of the west coast Ivies. An east-coast Ivy wasn’t even in the same universe.
Arts & Letters
The Hard “Nope”
It was a post at Bookroom Room that led me to jump aboard this particular train of thought – that most of us have certain concepts embedded in us so firmly that absolutely nothing will ever get us to violate them. As Bookworm put it, “Because as I’ve contended for years, every person has one absolute truth. It’s the one thing they know to their bones is true and the world must align with that truth … For my mother, who would have been a fashionista if she’d had the money, style and beauty were her truths. She sucked up all the lies about Barack and Michelle Obama until the media talking heads said that Michelle was the most beautiful, stylish first lady ever, above and beyond even Jackie Kennedy. That ran headlong into Mom’s truth and, after that, she never again believed what the media had to say about the Obamas.”
It’s a concept worth considering – our own truths, which we will stubbornly hold on to, refusing any threats or blandishments. It varies from person to person, of course. Some have only small and irrelevant truths, which are never seriously threatened, and there are those who have no real truths at all, save perhaps self-aggrandizement – but even so, for some keeping to their truth is a hard struggle, deciding to hold to that truth against everything – especially if they have status or a living to make, in denying that truth.
In the last year that we lived in Spain, I came to the knowledge that many very supposedly-well educated people had the most surprising gaps in their general knowledge of things. This realization came sometime in 1991, I think – and since then, evidence of this has mounted into a heap the size of the Matterhorn. But this was the first time that I saw proof of this in someone that I had assumed to be somewhat well-educated. I took a neighbor and her children on an excursion downtown. (I had been assigned to the base there for more than five years, the neighbor and her family were recent arrivals – the father of the family was our newest Protestant chaplain.) I wanted to show them the fascinating and quaint old city heart of Zaragoza; the Cathedral of the Pilar, the ancient cathedral, La Seo, the central plaza with the old palace of the city hall at one end, a stretch of ancient Roman wall at the other, and the 19th century food market with its’ ranges of individual tiny stalls under the iron roof. The children were of an age to appreciate all this, enormously.
The Last Straw of US
Well, that’s it for Disney for now and the predictable future – anything whatsoever to do with a Disney brand anything for this family. Disney-brand movies, Disney-owned media outlets, toys, games and clothing with Disney characters on them, the parks – the whole ball-o-wax. I was pretty certain I was done with them when I wrote this, almost a year ago. (Disney was already circling the drain with me, the year before, when this posted.) This most recent release of theirs has gone beyond offensive wokery, romped through partisan propaganda and plunged headlong into purveying outright lies – lies about American history, which to me, as a passionate reader of history (as well as a scribbler of historical fiction) is a form of blasphemy. Worse than that – a putrid and manipulative lie.
Slavery did not build this country. The ‘peculiar institution’ as it was described in antebellum writings, in fact rather retarded industrial development in the old South. I will concede that extensive production of cash crops as rice, tobacco, indigo and cotton did depend on slavery. Those enterprises enriched a small, elite fraction of Southern slaveholders and kept the rest of the South relatively poor, undeveloped, and almost medieval in backwardness, although like the medieval nobility, convinced of their own superiority. Industry, innovation, and immigration all inclined to those places North of the Mason-Dixon line, while the South stagnated, even after Northern victory in the Civil War brought an end to chattel slavery.
A Serious Temptation
So – I established the practice of wearing late Victorian or Edwardian-style outfit when out doing a book event; everything from a WWI-era grey nurses’ dress with a white apron and kerchief, to a black taffeta bustle skirt and jacket with a blue ribbon sash hung with orders and jewels and a white widow’s bonnet (a la Queen Victoria). It’s an attention-getter in a room full of other authors and readers, and a wonderful social icebreaker/conversation starter: Hi, my name is Celia, I write historical fiction, so I like to dress the part!