French class has this activity where we plan a tourism conference and present tourist destinations in Quebec to the rest of the class. Whatever. Kind of a fun idea. It's 20% of final grade so I can't blow it off completely.

First, there's a questionnaire.

Question: Where do you think the conference should be?
Me: I think it should be in Montreal because [reasons in good French].
Teacher: Well, everyone else said Percé so you get a C+ for this assignment.

And like.

a) I don't care about grades for this class so long as I get to pass up to the next class

but

b) I'm not psychic and I deeply resent assignments where you get graded low for not guessing right.

The other, more disturbing thing is that our team is me (the Jewish one), the half-Native woman, and the full-Native woman. We chose the region of Quebec where full-Native woman is from, and the two Natives were psyched about talking about how you can visit the Indian reservation and stuff about its history and what have you. So they do their bits of the questionnaire as if someone were planning a visit to the region to learn about the Native things.

And the teacher rejects it, saying it's not glamorous enough, and we're not to talk about the Indian reservation at all, she wants to hear about golf courses and hotels and proper tourist things. Which boils down to "don't give me that Native shit, I want to hear about white-people things."

And like. This class unit is supposed to teach us tourism vocabulary and about the region of Quebec. And Quebec is notoriously racist as fuck, even more so than the rest of Canada which already makes a national sport of dumping on Native populations. So we got to learn that first-hand, which is a useful lesson. But it is not the lesson one expects to learn in French class.

The teacher has plausible deniability (the reservation is not glamorous! she wants to know about touristy things we learned the vocabulary for, like golf resorts!) so I am not sure it will be worth making a complaint to the department. Or that, if I did, the department would care in the slightest.
cremains: (drunken vulcan)

From: [personal profile] cremains


I don't think that's plausible deniability. Saying Native culture and locations aren't as "glamourous" is quite BS, it's different from saying that you had to stick to what is traditionally considered a standard tourist locale. Another reason to complain to your department is that maybe your teammates would care that other people saw through the racism. Maybe you could even ask them about doing it jointly and see what they have to say.

Last week walking on the main road here I saw a protest by Iranian dissidents. The person in charge asked me to sign a petition against the government for the inhumane incarceration of political opponents, queer people, etc. I hesitated, saying I didn't know that the Iranian government would care at all that I disapprove of them. He looked at me and said "I CARE." For me that was a good reason to sign. Sometimes the stated audience is not necessarily the most important one.

Sorry French class is shit. :( And yeah I'm sure this is just the beginning of that special flavour of racism and First Nations issues you can find there...
Edited Date: 2014-02-23 01:28 pm (UTC)
tircha: (Default)

From: [personal profile] tircha


This is an excellent point. I bet your Native friends would be glad to know the white lady has their back, and I bet a complaint from you would go further bc privilege, etc. this is a good use of it.
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