The Jose Vilson - Educator - Writer - Activist - Father

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Book Con. Miami Device. Vox Media. FiveThirtyEight.

I’m see any argument against affirmative action as invalid. Time and again, I see clear examples of situations where there was a rather conscious decision to exclude because of “fit,” which is just doublespeak for “whatever’s normal and profitable to us.” Which is often to the detriment and ostracization of an “other.”

Thus, I have something else to add to the plethora of things I’ve already said:

Affirmative action is my best friend. Actually, it’s every person of color’s best friend. And, mostly, it’s white women’s best friend. We ought to embrace affirmative action with both arms wide open and say “Thank you!” For, without affirmative action, we leave the decision of selection to those who would relegate we of different experiences and perhaps more negative perceptions of the fairyland they call united.

While one might say, “What do panels and media staff have to do with anything?”, to which I respond, “With all the qualified and vested individuals out there, many of whom have passed the respectability politics test from some institute of higher learning, would you think that the panels and staff put to the fore still look like this or would they be more representative of the wealth of knowledge out there?”

The nice part of you wants to believe that the selectors will come to their own egalitarian way of approaching diversity and pick folks outside of their country club or beer garden. They don’t. It’s the same people speaking the same language inculcating each other on their rightness, flabbergasted when the rest of the world looks at their selection with rolled eyes and loud sighs. Once the reactions flow in, a promise to “improve” always comes out, and a few people of color get a “privilege-to-be-here-so-take-it” pass, even if they may not get a chance to speak up and out.

As an after-thought. Not a “before-thought” the way legacies do at Ivy Leagues or “thought” the way bros with beard implants get. An after-thought.

That’s why, when Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented in the recent affirmative action case, I nodded like my head was about to fall off:

“In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination. [...] This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society.”

Affirmative action isn’t a handout. It’s the idea that everyone who isn’t a “bro” should have a part to play. We can’t just wish racism away. If institutions continually perpetuate racism, then the institution has a hand to play in dismantling racism. Otherwise, expertise, like those linked above, looks bleached, devoid of the gradients this world allows us.

Jose

photo c/o

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Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall

Today, ProPublica released a special report on their website dedicated to the resegregation of America’s public schools. With the 60th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision on May 17th approaching, ProPublica has focused this special section on Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where three separate and equally devastating stories will be told as case studies to highlight the effects of “letting” dreams of integration die on their own.

Unfortunately, progress never just dies on its own, and in this case, it’s not completely unintentional.

In fact, I also believe we’ve made the race problem in our public schools far too distant from us to truly to see it as a local as well as a national problem. For instance, if you took a guess as to which states had the highest rates of segregation in the country, you might assume it would be somewhere in the Southeast. The stigma about the Southeast works for both liberals and conservatives alike, who can point to our country’s history with slavery and eventual secessions during the US Civil War and say, “Well, that’s just the way it is over there.”

The problem is: it’s not just there. New York, Illinois, and Michigan that round out the top 3 states with the highest rate of school segregation (defined in this study as “the number of black students in schools where 90 percent or more of the student population are minorities”), all three blue states as per the 2012 election.

Therefore, it’s safe to assume that this isn’t just a “liberal” or “conservative” problem, but an “all public schools” problem. The Supreme Court, ruling in favor of Oliver Brown, et. al., said, in part:

Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law, for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system…

These days, people say things like “Well, not every child appreciates a good education” or “We should privatize the entire public school system, separate from the jurisdiction of government.” Yet, as we’ve seen in history, even the whiff of equity scares folks in power. School closures, redlining, and the advent of public schools forced the US government’s hand on promoting integration.

One only needs to read Linda Darling-Hammond’s The Flat World and Education to see how integration decreases the achievement gap AND the opportunity gap. Even if you’re not inclined to do so, please note: integration makes it so that all schools would have to be funded appropriately because all types of kids are in that building. Because kids of color are already seen as inferior, especially by people of color who’ve ingested the “white is better” doctrine, they tend to get a certain type of education that wouldn’t be acceptable in more affluent and whiter neighborhoods. Studies after rigorous studies endorse this.

But if you’re still not convinced, that’s OK. Just know that our current segregated system moonwalks us back to a point where “separate and unequal” wasn’t just de facto, but de jure. All of our students deserve better.

Jose

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I Need You Here (Global Math Presentation)

by Jose Vilson on April 14, 2014

in Jose

I’m going to drop a blog sometime on Wednesday, but in the meantime, I have an online presentation tomorrow for the Global Math Department, and I’m using this one to namedrop and blow spots. I’ll be on fire. If you’re interested, please do RSVP to this presentation. I might even raffle off one of my books because, well, this is what we do now.

RSVP NOW!

Thanks in advance. See y’all tomorrow.

Jose

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Your Kids Don’t Actually Feel Like They Belong After All

April 9, 2014 Jose
Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights Voting Act Signing

Today, a friend forwarded me a report from the Pew Research Center that focused on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. An excerpt: But as historic as it was, a half century later many Americans — particularly blacks — still believe that the country has a ways to go in overcoming racial disparities. […]

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My Review of The First Review of My Book This Is Not A Test

April 2, 2014 Jose
this is not a test cover 3b

Let me say, for the record, that I haven’t been excited yet. Not with the endorsements, the hundreds of folk who’ve pre-ordered it, the publisher’s ridiculously good execution with the basics (and then some), meeting Arundhati Roy through my publisher, the exclusive book party and eminent book clubs, or getting my first set of review […]

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Sunglasses and Advil, Last Edit Was Mad Real

March 30, 2014 Jose
kanye-west-grammys-performance-1

I’m surprised a few of you haven’t put out on APB or Missing Persons Report for me since I haven’t blogged on any site for the last two weeks. Instead, I’ve focused exclusively on my new book, This Is Not A Test. The endorsements, pre-orders, and events have rolled in steadily, with very few hitches. […]

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