Thursday, April 13, 2006


My humble little school, Bellevue Community College (affectionately and hereafter referred to as BCC), has made national news thanks to one of our teachers. Apparently one of our math teachers gave a math problem that was horribly offensive. Here’s the math problem:

Condoleezza holds a watermelon just over the edge of the roof of the 300 -foot Federal Building, and tosses it up with a velocity of 20 feet per second. The height of the watermelon above the ground t seconds later is given by formula h= -16t2 + 20t + 300

Only one usable word went through my mind when I heard this: “HUH?” Apparently this simple algebra problem offended a black student who in turn complained about this question and the teachers was reprimanded. Maybe this student was just upset that they couldn’t answer this pre-algebra problem. I’ve read two differing conclusions from various commentaries on said math problem.
The first is that this algebra teacher is obviously racist and must be fired at once. If this teacher had substituted the name Condoleezza with the name Jessie, Al, or Martin there would be massive riots on campus and it would have to be shut down. Any reference involving a black person and a watermelon is obviously racist and must be punished immediately.
The second opinion given is that this teacher is obviously getting a free swipe at Bush. By using the name Condoleezza in a simple math problem, this teacher is subliminally telling the students that Bush is bad. Because there is obviously only one Condoleezza in the world, this problem is apparent exists for the sole purpose of demeaning Dr. Rice.

I set out to discover a little more about this. First I wanted to know how common of a name Condoleezza is. So I took out my three volume set of “Neemund’s Index of Weird Names Black People Give Their Children,” commonly referred to as my high school yearbooks, in search of the name Condoleezza. I flipped through the index of the first book, got bored, and gave up my search. I didn’t see a Condoleezza, but I found a Condolisha. I looked up Condoleezza online and learned that con dolcezza is an Italian musical term referring to a piece being played “with sweetness”.

Apparently any reference involving both a black person and a watermelon cannot be anything but racist. At one time, it is believed that slaves had to pick watermelons on watermelon farms. Most of these slaves were also black. It is so blatantly obvious of its rampant racism that heads must roll for this, in the literal sense. Personally I’ve never heard such associations as being racist before. I really don’t think a watermelon cares who eats it, or who picks it, or who throws it off of a federal building. I’ve heard associations of black people picking cotton used in a racist sense; but a problem involving Condoleezza throwing a cotton ball off of a federal building would be something you’d find in a physics class since it requires a few more variables and calculations than most algebra students could handle.

So is this teacher a racist? Or is this teacher a Bush hater? You decide.


Neemund said...

Yes, I’m being sarcastic with this piece. No, I’m not offended by this math question. No, there isn’t going to be a riot @ BCC over this. (The biggest demonstration I’ve ever seen @ school involved a dozen teachers and a small handful of students standing in a circle in front of the cafeteria. Apparently they were staging a silent peace vigil in protest of a war or something.) Was this teacher being a racist? No. Was this teacher slandering the Bush administration? Possibly, but I doubt it. If they want to use my name in this question I’d have no problem with it, although I think I can throw a watermelon with an initial velocity greater than 20 feet per second. If they wanted to give the person a really white name like Lars, or G├╝staf, or Lance or something I wouldn’t have a problem either.
I heard Ken Schram’s commentary demanding that action be taken against the teacher. He also tells about how “insulting and racist” this math question was and the BCC administration should deal with it quickly and severely.
Now that I think of it, all of my teachers used names of famous people in their scenarios. Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Michael Jackson, random artists, actors, and politicians have all been in weird test questions my teachers have used. I even had to circle a picture of an aardvark in my international business final. Yes, most of my teachers are pretty off the wall and usually go out of their way make their students laugh out loud while reading their test questions.
Apparently there’s nothing important to talk about in the news right now. Reminds me of a few weeks ago when the media made a big deal out of a kid stabbing his grandmother to death at her home in Skyway. You know when reporters cover any kind of crime in Skyway that there is absolutely nothing else to cover.

TBQelite said...


I hate it when people make a big deal over stuff like this... It's pointless... what he did is not racist nor was it a free swipe against Bush...

Why most people be stupid?

"Do you really want to fight over something that is really nothing. Doesn't matter..."

Neemund said...

I was recently informed that it is considered extremely racist to imply that a black person would associate with a watermelon in any way. Hence this teacher should be lynched, or something like that.

Kate Robinson said...

having lived in the south for several years while i was in the military, i OFTEN heard the association between black people and watermelon used and it was always in a racist sense. it's actually a possibility that the teacher did something offensive here.