Acronyms are now racist according to the San Francisco School art department and we're like, AYKM?

Feb 2nd

To the ever-lengthening list of "things that are now white supremacy" add acronyms because when you're on the lookout for racism, you're going to find it no matter what.

The director of that department said, "We are prioritizing antiracist arts instruction in our work." So they got rid of the acronym "VAPA," which is short for visual and performing arts.

It's like one of those dog whistles that even dogs can't hear.

"It is a very simple step we can take to just be referred to as the SFUSD Arts Department for families to better understand who we are," explained Sam Bass, Director of the SFUSD Arts Department.

Assuming they know what SFUSD stands for, which TBH, sounds kind of profaney to me.

To recap, an acronym that stands for "visual and performing arts," is not as useful a description as "arts department."

Okay, I'll bite, why was this necessary again?

"The use of so many acronyms within the educational field often tends to alienate those who may not speak English to understand the acronym," he added.

Maybe we should do away with English, as well.

So, instead of educating non-English speaking children to speak the language of the country they live in, we'll just dumb down everything around them which while condescending, at least makes things a heck of a lot easier on the teachers.

That educating thing is hard.

That's based on a 1999 paper written by author Tema Okun titled "White Supremacy Culture." Okun told me that, "Our culture perpetuates racism when things continue to be written down in a certain way."

Buckle up, this is going to be quite the ride, for I am about to take you on a magical mystery tour into "anti-racist" thinking.

First, I had to read that 1999 paper and while I can't say I was particularly enlightened, I admit I did want to beat my head against the nearest wall, which I guess is kind of striking a blow of sorts against white supremacy.

This is a list of characteristics of white supremacy culture that show up in our organizations.

You know it's going to be good, right? You can just feel it.

Culture is powerful precisely because it is so present and at the same time so very difficult to name or identify.

So, let's just make some stuff up!

The characteristics listed below are damaging because they are used as norms and standards without being pro-actively named or chosen by the group.

That's kind of what culture is. But by all means, let's racialize it the better to bring people together in the spirit of resentfulness, suspicion and mistrust.

They are damaging because they promote white supremacy thinking.

I'm breaking these out because I want you to keep each and every one of these in mind as you read the list.

Because we all live in a white supremacy culture, these characteristics show up in the attitudes and behaviors of all of us –people of color and white people.

We're all victims here!

See, she's just trying to help.

Therefore, these attitudes and behaviors can show up in any group or organization, whether it is white-led or predominantly white or people of color-led or predominantly people of color.

Okay, got it? These are characteristics that show up in our culture that are products of white supremacy, essentially "white things" and not anything you should be associating with people of color.

There are a lot but I'll show you some choice examples. But by all means, read them all if you like!

Perfectionism

• little appreciation expressed among people for the work that others are doing; appreciation that is expressed usually directed to those who get most of the credit anyway

The rest of the explanation is like listening to a teenager whine: "How come I never get any credit for the stuff I do right?"

But they do have a point. We don't spend nearly enough time celebrating mediocrity, which sends a totally not-racist message to black and brown people that their culture is nothing like that "perfectionism-seeking" white culture.

Sense of urgency

continued sense of urgency that makes it difficult to take time to be inclusive, encourage democratic and/or thoughtful decision-making, to think long-term, to consider consequences

It's white supremacy to want to get things done in a reasonable amount of time rather than spend countless hours in staff meetings.

Quantity over quality

Don't get too hung up on the title, the author certainly didn't as the explanation has little to do with it.

•all resources of organization are directed toward producing measurable goals

The problem with focusing on measurable goals is that people can be held accountable which is of course extremely racist.

The message? People of color shouldn't be judged by measurable goals?

•things that can be measured are more highly valued than things that cannot, for example numbers of people attending a meeting, newsletter circulation, money spent are valued more than quality of relationships, democratic decision-making, ability to constructively deal with conflict

You know what can really mess up the "quality of relationships," in an organization?

Going bankrupt and everyone losing their jobs because no one was paying attention to circulation numbers and expenses.

Although the "ability to constructively deal with conflict" will definitely get a workout.

•little or no value attached to process

Back to the staff meetings, which is what process is. She really likes staff meetings.

I think I'm comfortable with not valuing process.

Worship of the written word

•if it's not in a memo, it doesn't exist•the organization does not take into account or value other ways in which information gets shared•those with strong documentation and writing skills are more highly valued, even in organizations where ability to relate to others is key to the mission

This paper on white supremacy is saying that people of color don't naturally have "strong documentation and writing skills."

That's something white people have.

This is starting to resemble the agenda for a KKK meeting.

Individualism

•little experience or comfort working as part of a team•people in organization believe they are responsible for solving problems alone

This is the kind of thing people say about individualism when they don't understand individualism.

•creates a lack of accountability, as the organization values those who can get things done on their own without needing supervision or guidance

People who are held responsible for getting things done lack accountability.

Okun has a doctorate, by the way.

A Jill Biden doctorate.

Objectivity

•the belief that there is such a thing as being objective or ‘neutral'

I objectively disagree with that.

Oh, right.

•requiring people to think in a linear (logical) fashion and ignoring or invalidating those who think in other ways•impatience with any thinking that does not appear ‘logical'

Are we talking about white supremacy here, or Vulcan supremacy?

Right to comfort

•the belief that those with power have a right to emotional and psychological comfort (another aspect of valuing ‘logic' over emotion)•scapegoating those who cause discomfort

It's white supremacist culture to not want to be harassed by third-rate intellects like Okun.

This paper (and really, if you think I'm just cherry picking, check it out for yourself) formed the basis for determining that acronyms are a part of white supremacy.

The really interesting part? The paper never mentions acronyms. Nothing. The word does not appear once in the document.

The VAPA people, I'm sorry, SFUSD Arts Department people, made it up all by themselves using this deeply dishonest paper to support the decision.

And it's a decision based on, a paper that conflates "western culture," the culture that has created undreamed of material abundance and personal freedom, with being white.

And I'm the racist.

In other news, San Francisco public schools remain closed to in-person learning.


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