Dismantling structuralized racism is 400 years overdue, and right now is the moment to begin; this is the tipping point.
Currently, social media is flooded with Black lives matter content. The police shootings, the hangings of Black people, and other harm continuously coming to Black families makes me feel like I can’t breathe. I want to be part of the solution.
As a person who leads educators, I want to help teachers evolve to a place where the whole matters as much as the individual. I want each child in our country to receive an equal opportunity in life and an education that is not only based on the truth, but also one that inspires them to learn and not just regurgitate what was said.
Equal opportunity could be given to each child in our schools through providing all children with excellent teachers, curriculum, resources and buildings. School is the perfect place to change racism, but that’s not reality.
Why? Click here to read more
The teaching profession is filled with hard working, caring educators who work harder than anyone I know. However, it is also 85% White. And being raised White in America, makes it difficult to see the struggles of being raised Black in America.
Right now White people are outraged and protesting all across the country which fills me with hope that systemic racism will be dismantled. However, I fear that the current outrage by White people at the treatment of Black people will stop. Something will come along to turn people’s heads and forget about the deep roots of this problem. Roots that are entwined with our very beginnings as a country, roots that must be systematically destroyed.
Structural racialization has given White people in this country advantages since the beginning. If you read and study the true history of this country, you will see that White wealthy people, people in power, people in government, carefully built every piece of the structure in order to keep the advantage.
I look at the current administration and pray that the new administration will work to bring true equality to this country. But as I look at the candidates, if I am honest, I have to admit not knowing much about them. I have never considered myself as someone interested in politics, did not pay close attention in history or civics classes, and I stay away from the news in general.
This ignorance is something I as a white person can no longer afford.
As I dove into research about the candidate, Joe Biden, I came across an article about the legislation he put into place as a young senator in 1974. The legislation was to prevent bussing of students which in turn would stop the integration of public schools. Kamala Harris called him out on this, and rather than apologize for his actions, he defended them. He called bussing asinine. This does not give me hope for the Democratic candidate. This is something, as a voter, I should know.
One article led to the next, and what I saw was one long thread that ran through the history of this country. I learned that blatant racist policy is the norm. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t know this. Where was this in my history classes? Why did I not know that Nixon lobbied fiercely against including white suburbs in busing? He disguises it so well in his delivery, saying that “it is not about race”, when that is all it is about.
As I went back further in American history, I discovered shocking acts, decisions, laws, and crimes committed by well-regarded members of society and the government. I realized that our reporting of history is so skewed, if white people really knew the history of America, they would see that since the birth of this country, the wealthy have crafted its development, in order to protect their wealth and their families, giving no regard to others.
For example, right after the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments were passed, white southern congressmen worked frantically to pass legislation to severely restrict the new freedoms. The Compromise of 1877, allowed state rule and removed federal troops from the southern states. Local lawmakers quickly passed laws restricting Blacks freedom.
Known as the Jim Crow laws, these included laws about who could vote based on literacy and land ownership, where you could eat, relax, buy a home, and where you went to school. And while we do not have Jim Crow laws on the books anymore, if an alien dropped down from space and looked at a public school in Atherton, and a public school in Vallejo, and read a copy of the Jim Crow Laws, he would think the laws were alive and well.
Not much different than slavery, white folks telling Black folks what to do and how to live.
I started a campaign on Instagram called #I think you should know. What I think you should know is that racist policies have run this country, made white people very rich, and we just keep rewriting it and hiding it under politically correct verbage to appeal to the current trends. Jim Crow laws were aligned with the same values as slavery, they just used different language but Blacks are still in the belly of the beast.
I used to think that individual people had racist beliefs and that is what caused the problems. I have realized that racism is designed into the structure of every institution we, as human beings, and as Americans, rely on to succeed; Justice, Education, Housing, Health, and Employment. While individual people, who hold conscious or unconscious White supremacy values, are the builders of the structures, it is the function of the structure to keep whites on top. Until we dismantle these structures, racism will live on.
But without the knowledge of what happened throughout history, a person, especially a White person, cannot see the underpinnings of it, without the truth I’ve heard more times than I can count, “they should have tried harder.”
I think we should know the true history of our country, or it will just continue to repeat itself. We must fight against any more racist policies or laws; it has to stop. Yet it doesn’t
Just last month Educational Secretary Betsy Devos proposed legislation which would bar U.S. higher educational institutions from giving any federal coronavirus relief funds to foreign, undocumented, and certain other students. These are students, living and going to school in the United States, wearing masks, washing their hands and dealing with a virtual education just like the students next to them on the class list.
How is it that this sort of legislation is still being considered? Devos said that the rule "helps erase any uncertainty some institutions have expressed and helps make sure we can support America's students facing the greatest needs. We have a responsibility to taxpayers to administer the CARES Act faithfully, and that's exactly what we're doing.” Notice her deceptive verbage, “…responsibility to taxpayers to administer the CARES act faithfully.” Nice language Betsy, it still reads as racist.
I implore you and challenge you to read about this country’s history from authors that are not White. White privilege is so challenging because we are blind to it. We see the world through our eyes and our privilege. It is not the job of Black people to educate us on how systematic racism is embedded in every institution, how people DO see color first and make unconscious decisions.
This does not make you a bad person, you, I am sure, are not a racist, your intent is not to harm Blacks. But ignorance of the embedded racism that seeps into everyday life is no longer an option.
As educators we are called to a higher moral responsibility. We need to be educated in the truth. Take the time to read about the history of education in this country, or any other institution; housing, healthcare, justice, the military, and employment. The threads of racism are there and I think you should know.
We are fortunate to be living at a time where there are many great books that share the history from a different perspective. Take the time to educate yourself so that you are prepared to be a part of the change in our country that is 400 years overdue.
Cutting School by Noliwe Rooks is a great place to start. Click here for a link to other resources