And here I thought you were genuinely asking
Posted by: Singapore/Fling 11:02 pm EDT 10/17/21
In reply to: re: I'm not shutting up, but asking for more information! - BruceinIthaca 08:43 pm EDT 10/17/21

When you asked your questions earlier, I made the mistake of thinking you were genuinely interested in a conversation, rather than fishing for anything that you could weaponize and pick a fight with. How disappointing, and what a shame I wasted my time with you.

To answer a few of your points:

As an ally, first and foremost I focus on amplifying the voices of the U of Michigan students, as well as my own students. I also reflect my experience as the college that I work at is going through its own culture shift as teachers are discovering that they have to reconsider their relationship to their students - and it does tend to be the older ones who are having the hardest time with this, and yes, that observation may be coming out of ageism on my part, and it certainly carries a bitterness that those faculty members who are causing the most harm to our students are the ones who have tenure and refuse to step down and make space for teachers who might be able to better care for these students.

Beyond that, though, we are all affected by White supremacy in this country, and so we all must call it out and respond to it when we see it. As often happens in these discussions, the actual event becomes less important than the response, in which people dig in to defend the person who made the mistake. And to be clear, I never claimed to be harmed by Sheng's mistake, I claimed that the students who have articulated that they felt harmed were harmed. I'm trying to keep this about the students, even while you try to make it about me.

I would take more stock in your questioning of my name if I thought you were being genuine, rather than throwing darts to see what sticks. You seem very hung up on the idea of Singapore as a former British colony, rather than a modern, multi-ethnic, independent nation which has an identity beyond its colonial roots. I named myself for a country that I was living in at the time - how is that different than your referencing Ithaca? If I was called ViveLaFrance, would it stick in your craw that I'm not French? Likewise, you offer a very specific and archaic understanding of the word "ex-pat", which is used globally to simply mean people who are living and working in another country without the intention or expectation of being permanent immigrants. (By the time that I had been in Singapore long enough to want to become a Permanent Resident, the country was making it very hard for foreigners to do so, which was one reason why I returned to the US.)

But again, your needless swipes don't seem grounded in anything. When I mistakenly thought you were genuinely asking, I humbly shared with you how I chose my name a bit carelessly, acknowledging that I don't think it's a good one, and remarking that I made it as a pun without claiming that I thought it was funny. You responded by calling it HILARIOUS, which is just mean and bitter. Are you so threatened by this conversation, or by your mistaken idea of who I think I am, that you're reduced to such petty, passive aggressive retorts?

(Truth be told, I find my name rather silly and flamboyant, and I would like to change it, but I'm under the impression that once we choose a name, we're stuck with it, like a tattoo.)

Because really, what do you want? If I don't say I'm White, I'm passing myself off as POC (even though there are native born White people in Singapore). If I say that I'm White, I'm performative, even when I offer it as information to explain how I identify, the same as I sometimes mention that I'm middle-aged (low 40s, and I have the short term memory loss to prove it), queer, and was raised male but don't identify as cis-gender. I have not made a secret about any of that.

This is all a side show, though. We should be focusing on question of consent in the classroom and how we deal with material like this. You clutched your pearls when I used "We" in saying how the younger audience receives this film - but did this group of students actually see Shakespeare's play when they were shown this? And do you honestly think that a simple, "When movies were made in the 60s, Sydney Poitier was the only Black actor" (which is a paraphrasing of Sheng's apology letter) is sufficient to then show this movie? Would you show this to your students without offering them an alternate assignment? What does this portrayal provide that outweighs the harm and the racial spectacle? What does the film have to offer us aside from a snapshot of how 1960s London understood Shakespeare? It's interesting as a relic of its time, but it is neither a good movie nor a good performance by modern-day standards... or even at the time, to go by the reviews that call it rather hammy.

By every possible metric, Sheng failed his students. He didn't take care of their personal needs, and he didn't serve their educational needs. I hope that you don't make the same mistake, because your students deserve better.

Oh, and ps - my halo? You have a very strange sense of how i see myself. I don't put myself on nearly the pedestal that you think I do.

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