race Archives - The Jose Vilson

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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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Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights Voting Act Signing

Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights 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.

A CBS News poll conducted in late March found that while 59% of Americans — including 60% of whites and 55% of blacks — considered race relations in the U.S. to be generally good, about half (52%) thought there was real hope of ending discrimination altogether while 46% said there would always be a lot of prejudice and discrimination. About six-in-ten blacks (61%) held the view that discrimination will always exist compared to 44% of whites.

In other words: people of color have a much different view of race relations in this country. Again.

The implications for this get even more complicated when we look at the accompanying statistics about public schools. When asked whether Blacks were treated less fairly than whites in local public schools, only 15% of whites, 35% of Latinos / Hispanics, and 51% of Blacks believe this. In other words, for every white person who believes this, 2 Latinos and 3 Black people are absolutely shaking their heads at the 85% of white folks who don’t.

Which makes the idea of speaking about institutional racism that much more important.

Unfortunately, many teachers in the classroom don’t “see” race when they see kids, and / or don’t see themselves as agents to an institution that makes many children of color feel like they don’t actually belong to them. They’re “colorblind” because they either don’t want to deal with it, don’t know how, or implicitly have a blind eye to their privilege. Or all of those.

That’s the thing about privilege: people like me often have to point them out in order to make others more reflective.

In the 21st century, we can no longer blame any one region of the country or political “side” for racism. One of the most left-leaning states in the nation, New York, also leads the nation in segregated schools, a function of the rise of charter schools and not-so-secret redlining. This may have shocked a lot of folks, but there’s a critical mass of us who’ve waited far too long to say I told you so.

We’re the ones in the other table you refuse to sit at. It’s cool. We got stories, too.

Jose

picture c/o

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Fight With Us Too, Damnit (Educators and Jordan Davis)

February 17, 2014 Jose
Jordan-Davis

When the Michael Dunn verdict came down, I fully expected him to get off on all counts. The Trayvon Martin case only created two pathways for future cases like these: either America – specifically Florida – would learn and do better for the next trial or it would give carte blanche to any white person […]

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First They Came For Urban Black and Latino Moms (For Arne Duncan)

November 17, 2013 Jose
arneduncaninhaiti

A few months ago, I walked past a “successful” charter school here in Harlem, NY, speed-walking to get my school supplies for the coming school year. I noticed a huge crowd of mostly Black and Latino families all waiting to pick up their children when a taut, pony-tailed White man came out with a clipboard […]

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Excuse Me, Your Privilege Is Showing (White Privilege in Ed Reform)

November 14, 2013 Jose
emperorssecondtransition

It always starts when someone brings up a point about race within your “own” ranks. Whatever that means. I’m OK with taking on the role as education’s Race Man, but the more I write about it, the more prevalent these discussions become. It’s almost as if people are waiting for [insert name of favorite White […]

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