learn who invented the racist ideas and the concept of white and black that took hold in the Western institution of slavery. When and why the concept of 'white' and therefore 'black' was invented and so on., It's part of a larger 14 part series on whiteness and white privilege in America
Chuck Feeney today is a man of no property. He and his wife Helga live in a modest rented apartment in San Francisco. He has no car or luxuries of any kind. Actually, come to think of it, he has a very nice watch. It is plastic and cost about $15.
There are no trophies or vanity photographs in the apartment to show that he has devoted his $8 billion fortune to making the world a better place.
It was always so with Feeney, a brilliant entrepreneur who became a billionaire through the company he co-founded, Duty Free Shoppers, back in the 1960s. The frugal globe-trotting philanthropist routinely flew economy class, stayed in small flats, and ordered the second-cheapest white wine in restaurants.
Most of those students and their families are suffering in all the cruel and by-now-expected ways; overwhelmed with loss, they are numb and raging, sometimes to the point of paralysis and surreal disbelief, and, to the public, mostly invisible. But a different cadre of students, spared the worst, has exhibited a very different response: Activated by fury, demanding to be heard, they had the emotional bandwidth to strategize and to give sound bites as needed.
Most of these kids are juniors and seniors who, in the taxonomy of high school, were the “misfits,” says David. Theater geeks and drama nerds and journalism fanatics, these are the kids who like to perform, who have scrutinized the president’s use of Twitter, who voraciously consume media of all kinds. David is the kind of person who wakes at 3:30 a.m. to study for APs; drives to school listening to NPR; works in the school-community garden dreaming of hydroponics because he has ideas about growing food on Mars; and then after school streams Vox, Philip DeFranco, Al Jazeera, “and CNN somewhat,” until it’s time for bed. Delaney Tarr, 17, a senior, is a “fangirl” of quality photojournalism who loves John Oliver and Jordan Klepper and binges on One Day at a Time.Emma González, who spoke at a Fort Lauderdale rally three days after the shooting, is president of her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. Cameron Kasky, whose living room has become the movement’s headquarters, is an actor.
More important was what followed. Cameron’s small band grasped immediately that it needed to join forces with the other Douglas students who had become super-visible, and after the rally on Saturday night, about 20 kids gathered at his house for a strategy session. Emma was there. David was there. So were Jaclyn Corin and Delaney Tarr. “The people at Cameron’s house are some of the smartest people in the school,” says Jaclyn. “We just knew what to do to get the job done the quickest and most powerful way.” Ted Deutch, Parkland’s representative in Congress, had been interviewed several weeks before at the high school by David, and he stopped by Cameron’s house later that weekend to see how he could help. Walking up the driveway, Deutch saw Emma on the stoop, sorting through messages and talking with Demi Lovato on her cell. Deutch told the kids to keep doing what they were doing, “that they should continue speaking out in their own voice. They shouldn’t let people tell them what to say or how to say it. They should reject offers of talking points. The reason that they’re so effective, that they’ve caught on, is that they’re so genuine.”
The kids agreed that if they were going to launch a media assault, they needed to present a unified front. They couldn’t seem to be contradicting each other or going off in different directions at once. So they set about establishing “what we needed to say, the things we shouldn’t be saying,” says Delaney. David says he drew criticism — even from his friends — for that first interview on Fox, in which he failed to acknowledge the enormity of the loss for so many of his neighbors. “I still do feel like kind of an asshole for going on there and not being sensitive about the situation and the grieving families, but I knew that I had to because the news cycle moves so fast that if I didn’t get out there, this would be just another mass shooting,” he says.
The most important thing, the group agreed, was to sidestep partisanship, “to avoid straight-out blaming the GOP,” Delaney says, “because this is an issue, a nonpartisan issue, an issue of the NRA and not of ‘Republican.’ We were trying to work that out so that we wouldn’t isolate this entire group of people.”
Part of the reason the Stoneman Douglas students have become stars in recent weeks is in no small part due to the fact that they are in a school system that boasts, for example, of a “system-wide debate program that teaches extemporaneous speaking from an early age.” Every middle and high school in the district has a forensics and public-speaking program. Coincidentally, some of the students at Stoneman Douglas had been preparing for debates on the issue of gun control this year, which explains in part why they could speak to the issues from day one.
The student leaders of the #NeverAgain revolt were also, in large part, theater kids who had benefited from the school’s exceptional drama program. Coincidentally, some of these students had been preparing to perform Spring Awakening, a rock musical from 2006. As the New Yorker describes it in an essay about the rise of the drama kids, that musical tackles the question of “what happens when neglectful adults fail to make the world safe or comprehensible for teen-agers, and the onus that neglect puts on kids to beat their own path forward.” Weird.
The student leaders at Stoneman Douglas High School have also included, again, not by happenstance, young journalists, who’d worked at the school paper, the Eagle Eye, with the supervision of talented staff. One of the extraordinary components of the story was the revelation that David Hogg, student news director for the school’s broadcast journalism program, WMSD-TV, was interviewing his own classmates as they hid in a closet during the shooting, and that these young people had the wherewithal to record and write about the events as they unfolded. As Christy Ma, the paper’s staff editor, later explained, “We tried to have as many pictures as possible to display the raw emotion that was in the classroom. We were working really hard so that we could show the world what was going on and why we need change.”
It is easy to point out flaws in education, but sometimes more difficult to talk about what works. There are some good things at this public school.