Joys of Life, Issue 1 – Lamps.

Welcome back! This is a continuation of my column from last year. If you haven’t read those and don’t know what we do here (most of the time, it’s a beautiful mess (comments in parentheses are what we call “tangents”)) go to parkerweekly.org and read them, and also read Matthew Turk, Claire Levin, and Lindsay Carlin’s columns because they are really good. 

But that’s not what we’re talking about, is it? Today, in honor of the light being shed by FWP Anonymous, we’re gonna talk about the greatest light-shedders since the 1972 scandal that was Deep Throat (the journalism one, you fiend! 1972 was a weird year) and the source of much illumination: Lamps.

Firstly, who invented lamps? What year? How old were they? Well, nobody really knows because lamps are really old. Like, older than Judaism. Oil lamps, coincidentally also the title of a 1972 Czechoslovakian movie (I’ve heard great things), were invented during the Mesolithic period of 10,000 B.C.E. That’s the same time period I used for my Hunters and Gatherers project for Ms. Elliott freshman year, and apparently Kangaroos are not suitable animals for domestic use. Riveting!

An oil lamp was also used in the movie Aladdin. It is where the genie lives and then he comes out and sings a song, and then Aladdin lies to the main love interest and then the bad guy is like “He lied!” and she’s like “AW!” and then Aladdin beats the bad guy, who is gay, BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN BEING GAY IS BAD, and then the genie doesn’t live in the lamp anymore.

An oil lamp is also the basis of the holiday Hanukkah, or Chanukah, or as someone once called it “Jewish Christmas.” I don’t know who, but someone definitely has. When the war with the Maccabees was over, God was like, “Light the eternal flame that can’t go out.” And the Jews were like, “OH NO! We only have one day’s worth of oil, this lamp isn’t gonna work, and God’s gonna get really angry.” And then it lasted eight days and everyone freaked out, and now it’s a holiday where I get chocolate I can’t eat for reasons we don’t have time to get into right now.

Lamps, as mentioned, shine a light, usually ultraviolet, infrared, or visual, out of a light bulb, or lit oil or wax that is shaded by a lampshade or a piece of pottery, directing the light outwards and directing it towards a specific place in the world. That’s a very convoluted, general definition that the Chinese government probably hacked into Google using TikTok or whateva, but it also applies to FWP Anonymous, which shines a light on a ton of serious problems that need to be taken seriously.

Well then, who better to talk about FWP Anonymous than me, a horse-thigh-esque, see-through, cis privileged man, whose only “quirky” feature is liking boys and girls and not having a mental illness, because it isn’t a trend, but it also isn’t a trend to say that it’s not a trend. Think for yourself, don’t be a hack. Very simple.

Back to FWP Anonymous, if you don’t know what that is, it is an Instagram account made at the end of May or early June on a picture-perfect afternoon. They shared and continued to share a series of anonymous stories relating to incidents of racism, sexism, homophobia, sexual assault, and mental illness. There’s probably a bunch of articles in this very “Weekly” that are very journalistic-y and smartly written that can give you more details. This isn’t one of those.

Basically, there is some pretty crazy stuff on there that should not AT ALL be tolerated by anyone at this school, by parents, teachers, admin, and students alike. Untolerateable. That’s a new word, linguistics is crazy, come back next month to hear more about it. Anyway, the account contains stories of sexual assault, blatant racism, homophobia, and exclusionary and segregatory language that calls into question whether our school is even close to meeting our mission, and most of which was known but undiscussed by the community at large. 

There is also a bunch of stuff that opens the opportunity for our embryonic democracy to heal our broken foot so that the eye can start walking again. Poetic. There are a bunch of incidents that have clear, easy-to-fix solutions that require just a little bit more focus on empathy in everyday curriculum and school culture. This can lead to positive change and improvement for the people making bad decisions and saying and doing bad things.

Some people question the legitimacy of the stories which detracts from the goal of the account, which is to bring awareness and fight for change. So, if you are doing that, stop, it’s not fun. 🙁

So….What do we do now? Well, the account managers are doing an exemplary job of being incredible, one thing I always strive for. They’ve compiled stories and calls for action and created a 15-page document containing a letter and a list of demands with the intention of making Parker a better embryonic democracy, a better community, and better at teaching empathy and global citizenship. If you compare our Anonymous Instagram account to those of other schools, on the scale of bad, ours is much less bad than the other schools, with fewer incidents of inappropriate teachers and students being blatantly racist, and more incidents of microaggressions and uneducated students pretending that they know about an experience they can never possibly know about. Which can still add up to be equally as harmful as obvious racism. 

Wrapping up, this account has shined a light on the problems within our school, much like lamps, and we as a community need to be better. Deal?