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Domino, Domino, Only Spot A Few Blacks The Higher I Go

by Jose Vilson on August 29, 2011

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My good friend Brent reminded me that Diane Ravitch tweeted the notorious article by Michael Petrilli comparing Klout scores of some of the biggest names in the online education world. It has the effect where people can take a macro-view of the education world and have some discussion of what it means to have influence in this sphere. Klout’s a rather crude measure for influence, but it’s as good as it gets. Because of the limitations on Klout presently (like ranking a la WeFollow), it’s hard to do a fair list that includes everyone who’s in the sphere.

Having said that, there’s a shortage of people of color representing educators, and Michael did exactly what I expected and let it be.

With all due respect to the racial sensitivities of my readers, the article felt like looking into a conversation full of White people deciding amongst themselves who will speak up on behalf of all online educators, and who can be isolated from the conversation. People of color become akin to spooks, darkies, and shadows, in an almost literal sense when educators of color don’t see any real representation of themselves. I’d also love to say that the list excluded people whose views diverged from Petrilli’s, but he puts Ravitch #1, and includes friends like Mike Klonsky in there.

So it’s not just me. It’s that there’s a lack of color.

You’re well within your bounds to say that the list missed a ton of people, including friend Chris Lehmann, the movement SOSMarch, luminary Angela Maiers, and math extraordinaire David Wees. You’re also safe to say that the list against signifies the ridiculousness of making such lists. These are all sound arguments, and I let it go after I made my comment. It’s like the further I get in the education sphere, the fewer people of color I see representing us.

Naturally, it also irked me because of the context in which it was tweeted to me. It’s no disrespect to those who tweeted it out in the last few days, but if the list represents the comeuppance, or the recognition of the voice of the voiceless, then I’d like to officially appoint myself the color of the colorless. As evidenced by some of the conversations I’ve had lately, people of color don’t have to agree with me on all my views, but the experience of ostracization in this country seems to count.

What up to Milton Ramirez? And semi-nod to Michelle Rhee. These two were the only people of color in this edu-sphere to make it on this list. If Michael Petrilli and others believe this is a legitimate list, then we’re gonna need a million more …

Jose, who went from murder to excellence …

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