News

Valley Views: Moi? In a fight? Let's learn from race in history, not get upset by it

Now, I usually mind my own business when I overhear a conversation, but this wasn't the case last week in the swimming pool at the YMCA waiting for my water aerobics class to begin. I was slowly warming up and idly listening to a conversation between a man and woman treading water nearby. I wouldn't say I "know" them but they, too, are regulars.

Then I heard her ask him: "What is this 'critical race theory?'"

And he began to reply: "It teaches kids that from the time they are born that they are guilty."

I actually felt my blood boil at what I considered a gross misinterpretation. I charged through the 10 feet of water that were separating us.

"Wait! Wait!" I said. "That's not what it is at all."

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

He turned toward me and firmly stated, "You may have your opinion but I am talking."

For a second I actually thought it might escalate into a shouting match, something entirely out of my comfort zone. So I backed off and chose an exercise spot a bit distant as the class began. But I could hear the rest of his answer, an extremely negative and incorrect account of critical race theory as I understand it.

I was upset. Which actually was good for my energy level as I jogged and kicked and vigorously pushed and pulled the water-resistant dumbbells. And I thought during the entire class about what had just happened.

This was a man I'd spoken to many times in the past. He and his wife had recently taken a scuba diving trip to Tahiti, and I'd told him about my diving experiences in the Red Sea many years ago. We'd also commented about the teachers and the classes as they resumed earlier this year.

And, although the Y should not be a place for political discussion, I'd heard him expound during the recall election on how he was all for it and go on to criticize Gov. Gavin Newsom. Which was dismaying but had not sent me into a fury.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Now, I had 45 minutes of exercise time to consider what made me so angry that I had thrust myself into their conversation. What had I hoped to gain from it? And now what, if anything, should I do? I made my decision.

When class was over, as everyone dried off and packed up, I grabbed my belongings and approached the guy.

"Excuse me," I said, and he looked up. "I want to tell you I am sorry."

He smiled slightly and mumbled something like, "That's OK."

"I should not have interrupted you," I continued. "And I am sure we have things in common that we can agree on."

I paused.

"We both like water aerobics," I said.

Then he laughed pleasantly. I responded in kind and walked away.

My understanding of critical race theory (CRT) is that it includes the lives of Black residents in American history and the impact of slavery from the beginning. This sounds quite different from my education in the 1950s. It was relatively recently, upon reading Jill Lepore's "These Truths: The History of the United States," that I received a broader view of our nation's founding and early years.

But I am aware of the great divide in America of facts and alternative facts so I went to good old Merriam-Webster -- online because it had to be up to date -- and found the following definition:

Critical race theory: "a group of concepts (such as the idea that race is a sociological rather than biological designation, and that racism pervades society and is fostered and perpetuated by the legal system) used for examining the relationship between race and the laws and legal institutions of a country and especially the United States."

Learning the complete history of our country and its institutions and how and why laws were passed sounds like the definition of education to me. And I don't feel any guilt due to the actions of my ancestors, only sadness for the injustices.

These issues, historical and current, sound like a good thing to explore and discuss -- without interrupting each other -- so we can move forward in a better way.

Editor's note: Dolores Fox Ciardelli is Tri-Valley Life editor for the Pleasanton Weekly. Her column, "Valley Views," appears on the second and fourth Fridays of each month.

A front row seat to local high school sports.

Check out our new newsletter, the Playbook.

Looking for more Livermore stories? The Livermore Vine will be your new source of vital news and information. Sign up to be among the first to get our daily local news headlines sent to your inbox for free.

Follow DanvilleSanRamon.com on Twitter @DanvilleSanRamo, Facebook and on Instagram @ for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Get uninterrupted access to important local political news. Become a member today.

Valley Views: Moi? In a fight? Let's learn from race in history, not get upset by it

by / Danville San Ramon

Uploaded: Thu, Nov 25, 2021, 8:16 pm

Now, I usually mind my own business when I overhear a conversation, but this wasn't the case last week in the swimming pool at the YMCA waiting for my water aerobics class to begin. I was slowly warming up and idly listening to a conversation between a man and woman treading water nearby. I wouldn't say I "know" them but they, too, are regulars.

Then I heard her ask him: "What is this 'critical race theory?'"

And he began to reply: "It teaches kids that from the time they are born that they are guilty."

I actually felt my blood boil at what I considered a gross misinterpretation. I charged through the 10 feet of water that were separating us.

"Wait! Wait!" I said. "That's not what it is at all."

He turned toward me and firmly stated, "You may have your opinion but I am talking."

For a second I actually thought it might escalate into a shouting match, something entirely out of my comfort zone. So I backed off and chose an exercise spot a bit distant as the class began. But I could hear the rest of his answer, an extremely negative and incorrect account of critical race theory as I understand it.

I was upset. Which actually was good for my energy level as I jogged and kicked and vigorously pushed and pulled the water-resistant dumbbells. And I thought during the entire class about what had just happened.

This was a man I'd spoken to many times in the past. He and his wife had recently taken a scuba diving trip to Tahiti, and I'd told him about my diving experiences in the Red Sea many years ago. We'd also commented about the teachers and the classes as they resumed earlier this year.

And, although the Y should not be a place for political discussion, I'd heard him expound during the recall election on how he was all for it and go on to criticize Gov. Gavin Newsom. Which was dismaying but had not sent me into a fury.

Now, I had 45 minutes of exercise time to consider what made me so angry that I had thrust myself into their conversation. What had I hoped to gain from it? And now what, if anything, should I do? I made my decision.

When class was over, as everyone dried off and packed up, I grabbed my belongings and approached the guy.

"Excuse me," I said, and he looked up. "I want to tell you I am sorry."

He smiled slightly and mumbled something like, "That's OK."

"I should not have interrupted you," I continued. "And I am sure we have things in common that we can agree on."

I paused.

"We both like water aerobics," I said.

Then he laughed pleasantly. I responded in kind and walked away.

My understanding of critical race theory (CRT) is that it includes the lives of Black residents in American history and the impact of slavery from the beginning. This sounds quite different from my education in the 1950s. It was relatively recently, upon reading Jill Lepore's "These Truths: The History of the United States," that I received a broader view of our nation's founding and early years.

But I am aware of the great divide in America of facts and alternative facts so I went to good old Merriam-Webster -- online because it had to be up to date -- and found the following definition:

Critical race theory: "a group of concepts (such as the idea that race is a sociological rather than biological designation, and that racism pervades society and is fostered and perpetuated by the legal system) used for examining the relationship between race and the laws and legal institutions of a country and especially the United States."

Learning the complete history of our country and its institutions and how and why laws were passed sounds like the definition of education to me. And I don't feel any guilt due to the actions of my ancestors, only sadness for the injustices.

These issues, historical and current, sound like a good thing to explore and discuss -- without interrupting each other -- so we can move forward in a better way.

Editor's note: Dolores Fox Ciardelli is Tri-Valley Life editor for the Pleasanton Weekly. Her column, "Valley Views," appears on the second and fourth Fridays of each month.

Comments

Larisa
Registered user
San Ramon
on Nov 27, 2021 at 7:50 am
Larisa , San Ramon
Registered user
on Nov 27, 2021 at 7:50 am

Respectfully, you should have apologized to the woman for not sticking to your guns and telling her the facts. Or at least after class taken her aside instead and given her an education. Why waste your time apologizing to him? You did nothing wrong to him. This was a missed opportunity to share knowledge with the woman.


Malcolm Hex
Registered user
San Ramon
on Nov 27, 2021 at 12:22 pm
Malcolm Hex, San Ramon
Registered user
on Nov 27, 2021 at 12:22 pm

Nice to know Dolores that you do not don't feel any guilt due to the actions of your ancestors. You shouldn't, and neither do I. On the other hand, I would agree that it is important to know out nation's history - warts and all. The question is: from who?

American sociologist, historian, author, and editor, W. E. B. Du Bois, argued that much of American history has been written by scholars offering ideological claims in place of rigorous historical analysis. But which claims are ideological, and which ones are objective, is not always easy to discern. Good point.

Ibram X Kendi is an American author, professor, anti-racist activist, and proponent of critical race theory. However, it's not just critical race theory Kendi is concerned about, it's about ideology. Kendi said the following: “The life of racism cannot be separated from the life of capitalism,” he says. “In order to truly be anti-racist, you also have to truly be anti-capitalist.”

The self-avowed Marxist, Patrisse Cullors, co-fouder of BLM, is a proponent of critical race theory, defunding the police, and doing away with prisons. She also cites Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong, as "provid[ing] a new understanding around what our economies could look like."

It appears that ideology is far more important than the truth.


Malcolm Hex
Registered user
San Ramon
on Nov 29, 2021 at 8:40 am
Malcolm Hex, San Ramon
Registered user
on Nov 29, 2021 at 8:40 am

Addendum to the stated post as listed above:

Dolores spake the following:

Learning the complete history of our country and its institutions and how and why laws were passed sounds like the definition of education to me.

Education? Surely you jest. You mean, indoctrination. After all, thousands of parents can’t be wrong, can they?

And Larisa… Least I forget about her. Larisa said that Dolores should have taken taken the woman aside and given her an education. Education? Education about what?

Oh, do tell!


Jennifer
Registered user
Danville
on Nov 30, 2021 at 3:21 pm
Jennifer, Danville
Registered user
on Nov 30, 2021 at 3:21 pm

When it comes to the conversation of someone else (regardless of the topic - whether you agree/disagree) you MYOB. If not, you're a busybody. Delores did the right thing by apologizing, and I hope she learned a valuable lesson. If he/she wanted your opinion, they would've asked for it.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.