No Teacher Left Standing – David Lohrey

White Studies


Back from the seminar with ringing in my ears. Today, 
a special session in learning to be offended. The teacher 
is an empowered victim, an obese libertarian who spends 
her afternoons at the Palm Springs hotel pool in a lace bikini.

In her youth, one hears, she sued the San Francisco Ballet.
She won a space in a spring production playing the part of a fat swan.
In college she took the chancellor to court to gain admission to the men’s 
locker room. She made the men shower in their jockey straps.

Now she has diabetes and wheezes when she climbs stairs. She 
has taken up as a topic The Smiling Face of Whiteness. She made us 
buy her book and a set of tapes read by a transsexual prisoner at Folsom 
whose claim to fame is that she once sucked off Johnny Cash.

Whiteness, she contends, is a kind of one-dimensional way of being 
in the world. This, no doubt, contrasts with the multi-dimensional Eskimo.
I felt instantaneously resentful, in contrast to her position that whites
endlessly forgive their own transgressions. I forgive nothing.

Curricula emphasize terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi. It’s as
discouraging, she points out, as being too fat to model.  Schools 
perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks 
and other Europeans. She asks us to consider the proposition that 2+2 = 5.

Aspiring math teachers of color must learn to develop a sense of “political 
conocimiento,” which means answers from whites are always wrong. She 
quotes from a Vanderbilt University professor who writes that the field 
of mathematics is a “white and heteronormatively masculinized space.”

“Things cannot be known objectively; they must be known subjectively.”
There are no right or wrong answers. Don’t accept your white teacher’s 
corrections. When he says you’re in error, look him in the eye and tell him
that is just his opinion. (If his eyes twinkle, sue him for sexual harassment.)

Only when whiteness ends, can forgiveness begin. So many minorities 
“have experienced microaggressions from participating in math classrooms.…” 
We are tired, she insists, of being judged by whether we can reason abstractly. 
White thinking leads to white ways of being. Now repeat: 2 +2 = 5.


Shelter in Place


This is the advice one needs.
After a life of turmoil and defeat,
it’s best to stay indoors. Hide. Place your head
between your knees. They’ve been telling 
us this for years, but I never listened.
I was too busy trying to take over.

Genghis Khan with a phone I was called; now,
all I wish is to get along. I just want to be free. 
Don’t involve me. I’d just as well not come, thanks. 
I’m content to stay, lay back, kick it. Let the world go by, 
along with the riff raff. My God, what a sight. My mother 
was right not to let me play with the neighbors. 

What happened to the innocence? We were kind, don’t let them
tell you otherwise. These are lies. We were true blue. And
sweet, I kid you not. We were John Wayne’s children. We were
Frankenstein’s playmates. We made cakes with our mothers.
We even ate mommy’s lipstick. We sipped grandma’s elderberry
wine, but I’ll tell you this, we never took the Lord’s name in vain.

We hated our gym teacher, but we never called him a motherfucker.
It never crossed our minds. I can remember the first day that word
was introduced to the American people, the very first day it was 
used in public. We said golly, gosh or darn, not shit. We said we were
sorry and bent over to bare our bottoms. We took our punishment
like men. We didn’t sue. We didn’t curse. We never pursed our lips.

Now we have to hide. The news reporter announced that all the world’s
troubles could be traced back to us, yes, that means, you and me. The
social justice warriors, once known as scavengers and marauders, are
on the hunt; they’ve been trained in name-calling, finger-pointing, and 
manufacturing nerve gas. Our well-wishers have fled the country.
They’re living in Canada with the Eskimo. They kill seal and eat caribou.

We’ll have to keep the lights out. Our teacher has piled the chairs against
the door. She’s asked the gunman if he would please let us live. He said, 
“Shut the fuck up.” He’s a nervous wreck. His eyes are glazed over and he 
foams at the mouth. He called our dear teacher a stupid cunt. “Open up!” 
He’s determined to kill us all. He wants to make the world a better place. 
He’s fighting for justice. “We are the world now,” he says, “not you.”


The Arithmetic of War


The arithmetic of war …
That’s why Americans are poor at math.
The peacekeepers can’t be trusted.
Charles de Gaulle and Thomas Mann had it right.
This is what I see and hear pa rum pum pum pum.

The arithmetic of war can’t be taught.
This is how the people live.
There is nothing you can do about it.
You don’t expect death; it’s indiscriminate.
It’s the hap-happiest season of all.

We will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God.
He wants to make it new. Every Sunday 
is a picnic. It’s the most wonderful time 
of the year. I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. 
It is time to make the journey, me and my drum.
New gardens must be planted – 
raised beds, no pesticides. The rose is obsolete.
There are no threats the ladybugs can’t handle.
The men will arrive tomorrow. There’ll be much 
mistletoeing and hearts will be aglowing.

The planting must continue. Cotton is wrong 
at many levels. Replace the radishes with books.
Melville, Faulkner and Hemingway 
were the first Harlem globetrotters. 
This is the recipe for a better world.

The nation has nothing to do with territory.
Love’s got everything to do with it.
There will be no victory parades.
We’ll have to go into hiding. 
There’ll be scary ghost stories.

The men must be told to stop crying.
Women will have to take up arms.
Half the population may be annihilated.
People will once again learn to make fires.
There’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting.

Silent night, holy night. 
All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth. 
Do you see what I see?
I have no gift to give that is fit to give a king. 
Do you hear what I hear? Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.