Here is a copy of a letter I’ve sent to columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.:
I am an avid reader of your column and as a teacher and author, I appreciate all that you express so very well.
I heartily agree with the need for diversity in all areas of life but I do recognize Stephen King’s conundrum regarding the Oscar nominations (your Jan. 20 column, “Why Stephen King’s diversity tweet was so disappointing”).
I think he was saying he considered the product he was judging irrespective of the gender or ethnicity of those who created it. Isn’t doing so actually treating everyone equally?
I read your column in the Greensboro News & Record and not long ago a reader pointed out in a letter to the editor that the winners of the paper’s Halloween writing contest for children were mostly white. I responded (as one of the teachers who submitted student entries) that it was a blind judging format in the sense that gender and race are not listed or considered. There are even many names such as Taylor or Kelly, which are gender-neutral.
The three elementary winners from last year did represent both genders and different racial backgrounds. Samuel from my class was one and he is Asian. His last name would not have been a clue for the judges in regard to his heritage.
Of course, Stephen King may have known the gender and race of the creators of work he was judging but I believe he didn’t consider that; instead, he thoughtfully and rightfully considered the quality of the films nominated.
I have another example of considering art over what could be considered “fair.” I have enjoyed participating in theater for more than 20 years and this season missed out on a role that was down to three finalists. One of the actresses chosen was currently in a show at the very dinner theater where we were auditioning. Casting her seemed unfair since she was already having a turn doing a show there. The reality, though, was that the director didn’t consider that, he only looked at the quality of auditions and who best fit his vision for the play.
There is a lot being said in education today about the disparity of disciplinary consequences between white and black students. It is so wrong to respond to children differently for the very same offense. At my school, all of our students know our expectations and they are treated exactly the same regarding disciplinary consequences. The only difference would be in response to an autistic child, for example, who is learning social cues. We as teachers would consider his or her personal challenges.
Thanks for listening. Often there is more than one way to look at things.