Is the public school system rooted in White supremacy culture?
Damn right it is.
And anybody who denies, deflects or defends this lopsided system is complicit in perpetuating that culture, whether they know it or not.
This brings me to question why teachers in New York are pushing back against a mandatory implicit bias training that was fast-tracked by School Chancellor, Richard Carranza.
I mean, it definitely sounds like a much-needed step in the right direction–especially since one of their fellow educators in their own state thought it was a good idea to have Black students act out a slave auction.
But apparently, educators are uncomfortable and speaking out because a Jewish superintendent was allegedly verbally attacked after sharing her family’s story of surviving the Holocaust. Teachers were told to favor Black students over White students, regardless of socioeconomic status and even the Asian community is upset because it was said that their kids “benefit from White supremacy.”
Look, I’m not agreeing with any offensive language or the treatment used during these trainings. But – and excuse me if this sounds harsh – this isn’t about y’all. It’s about these kids.
The ones who don’t get media coverage when they’re unfairly suspended. The ones who are denied breakfast and lunch because they can’t pay their balances. The 44% of students of color who can’t complete grade-level coursework because their teachers never gave them the opportunity to try.
So forgive me if your complaints that overshadow and could possibly derail an imperative training fall on deaf ears.
But before you give up, give the training a chance. Nora Madsen said it helped her connect with her students and the teachers who are advocating for it to continue believe it’s a must. And Jodi Friedman testifies to how talking about race made a difference in her personal and professional life.
Or, if unlike educator Vivett Dukes, you don’t like Carranza’s training, brave through it and find your own ways to unpack and throw away your implicit bias.
Listen and talk to your students—they’re saying y’all need this or some kind of training.
Have open and honest conversations with them about their experiences and ask what they need from you to feel included, challenged and treated fairly. Diversity Talks equips youth and teachers with the tools to have these types of conversations with one another—may wanna check them out.
Listen to your fellow educators.
Zach Wright had an honest conversation about his racism with his students. He understands that discomfort is necessary when broadening your lens, but he also recognizes that it’s an uphill battle for equality and equity in a country whose foundation was built on White supremacy.
Dear White people— I know y’all get tired of being called racist. You may get frustrated with being told to check your biases when dealing with students of color. Some of you may think you don’t even have any.
But in order to get to true educational equity, these conversations have to happen. We’re going to highlight your privilege and bias and it’s going to be uncomfortable. So if you really want the best for your students, step out of your comfort zone and into a growth space—and never forget that your work is about the kids.
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