A Quick Note on Race Talks in Education Spaces #EduColor

Jose VilsonFeatured, Jose, Race

Premise: educators who aren’t challenged to think about systemic inequity offline don’t want to think about it online.

In the last week, much has been made about my impromptu #educolor chat about race and schools, but, like #EduColor itself, it wasn’t borne of a chat, but by resistance to ignorance amongst our colleagues.

You can read the recap for yourself here.

Behind the scenes, I had contemplated whether I even wanted to participate. There were pros and cons to both. The main con was that connected folks of color shouldn’t have to participate in this chat because white educators should do the work themselves without our involvement. This puts the onus on white folks to talk to white folks about race in a space that normally doesn’t do it.

But as I watched it unfold, I started to see how few participants either wanted to engage. In fact, the folks who were originally energized by the topic started to drop out quickly as they saw how quickly some #edchat participants deflected any attempt at critical thought. None of the moderators wanted to take any particular responsibility for the historical negligence of this topic.

As I saw the pushback to the moderators get more intense, I saw the need to bring back the folks disaffected by the lack of structure and thoroughness of #edchat and decided to do my own. On the spot.
I was grateful that so many of my Twitter followers and #educolor squad chimed in on the action. The chat lasted about an hour and a half with questions I made up on the fly. With little effort and better energy, we used a platform that others say is inhospitable to race conversations and … Held a conversation on race. As we do monthly. With better turnout and participation than #edchat had on the same topic an hour beforehand.

This is totally applicable in real life, too.

Unlike other topics like ed-tech tools and standardized testing, racism and other elements under the umbrella of “identity politics” deserve an approach that, at once, brings people in, affirms the most marginalized, and challenges current notions of race on a personal and institutional level. And, as with #educolor itself, the chat was about making sure the people who saw this online could take back these thoughts to their offline spaces where it’s more pernicious to have this conversation.

We can’t wait for the right moment, language, or people to get to work. The solutions are more complicated than any one person can solve, but we can all do our part to resist asking only one question.