Racism In Schools ~ Should We Be Discussing It?

Standard instruments of understanding and convenience seem to have disappeared. Who might imagine that in a loving, reflective democracy, we required a massive political mobilisation to inform the police and all citizens, of the plain fact that black lives matter? Who might imagine that when a police officer was questioned why he fired on an autistic man, who was sitting with his hands in the air telling officers not to shoot, he might say,

I don’t know

Violence between U.S. citizens of diverse races, backgrounds, sects, and political parties has risen to new heights. Social networking may have amplified toxic sentiment and fanned the fires of animosity further than in the past decades, but deep mistrust and disdain, and the failure to overcome these emotions in a respectful manner, did not begin with social media. For us, they’re the new standard.

Instead of giving in to the helplessness that we believe is stopping bigotry and our communal, public haemorrhage, each organisation must explore its own position in perpetuating (inadvertently and adventurously) racial thought and policies. We cannot ever provide equitable opportunity for everyone before our organisations take specific steps and put an end to this thinking and policies. And the K–12 classroom is the ground zero for a fair, non-racist world.

When we consider recent manifestations of bigotry and how it impacts all Americans, let us be clear: nobody should be born that way. Racism has been taught. It is just as critical that bigotry is not impossible to overcome.

Let Us Look At The Problem

In reply to a new report by the Pew Research Center which revealed that black and whites are unchallenged on the same page about racism and poverty, blogger Rob Wile (2016) said:

If most Black people consider that increased poverty and economic mobility are a fault of America’s heritage of systemic racism and underinvestment, more white people believe that they are happy to place the blame on black Americans.

Five years ago, I gave a day’s talk to a community of teachers in the USA. During a break in the morning, I overhearted one wife telling another,

When we get this dark guy from the White House, we’re going to get this nation back as it should be.

The other woman said,

You’re correct.

The refusal to reverence for other civilizations is not limited to black and white relationships. Passengers dressing in Muslim attire who text on their mobile were forced to exit the aircraft for commercial flights because other passengers felt unhappy. And some of my Hispanic students informed me that their parents were shadowed by security forces when shopping in shops.

Imagine that the adult leader invited all to bow their head for a word of prayer before meal at a dinner that celebrates the area Cub Scouts and their accomplishments. Then he prayed in the microphone,

Love and glory to you, O Allah. O Allah. There is no God except you. Lord of the universe, the most compassionate, the most merciful, praise be to Allah!

If this happens in most American Cub Scout venues, Christians and Jews or other religions or no faiths would be insulted if they had to bend their heads to listen to someone unfamiliar to their values.

My family had a common encounter at a Cub Scout dinner. The pre-dinner prayer was filled with Christian metaphors, such as: “We have been saved and made whole by the one and only Jesus, God our leading saviour.” It was located in a mixed region of Washington, D.C., with a scout pack of Muslims, Jews and Christians as well. Imagine the responses of these non-Christian families to such a prayer.

I asked the leader if we should deliver a more egalitarian prayer. She rejected the concern. I noticed the true lesson learned as I looked around the room on the faces of many parents and children: you do not belong to me.

Not all disrespect and confrontation are about ethnicity alone. The distinctions between religions, cultures and races interweave. Strong disagreements lead to fervent discussion and division among both Christians and Muslims and Jews. Yet racism remains one of the most insidious and profound problems of our day.

Really Doing Something About It

Obviously, Americans should start learning frankly about race together, starting now. We don’t need to defend centred school bigotry talks. Often, as I experience bigotry, I’m disturbed by my own silence. I didn’t confront these women until I read the remark on

the dark guy the White House

It wasn’t a proud moment; in my silence, racial ideology was tacitly accepted.

I am upset by my silence on the racial comments and actions of those I knew about, though not directly observed. It may appear that since the events are incidental, I am exempt from talking against them. However, how do I balance the silence with my conviction that we are free only because all is free? As written by Nelson Mandela (1995), “Freedom is indivisible; chains were the chains on every one of my people and chains were the chains in every one of my people. As surely as the oppressed, the oppressor must be freed “There was a mistake (p. 624).

Besides the amazing brutality of bigotry, no man, not even the majority faction, can help it more firmly. We’re united in this. It is ironic, thus, that we concentrate on labelling discrepancies between us, particularly if they are negative or positive. For example, if a teacher looks before her at the start of the school year, she’ll probably ask who’s the best to teach. Is it not that we believe that the pupil that more resembles our own society or looks like a pupil from the last year we loved teaching is easy to teach? We already sort according to built-in preconditions. When we ask ourselves who will be most difficult to educate, we always suppose the students who don’t appear like someone we’ve already taught.

In order to defend oneself, we have built-in “other”-isms. We classify others as self and, in certain ways, negatively perceive deviations from us. (The music they play is distracting in their houses! Are they not capable of eating less gross food?) We might also remember, How tragic. My neighbour who worships in another church does not grasp the reality higher. Or we might use caricatures to easily identify, versions that stress one or two traits that we believe a cultural community has. All

Asians are mathematicians with talent. White persons living in trailers are alcoholics.

Ideas For Potential Conversations

I often wonder if white teachers would acknowledge the existence of institutionalised prejudice or whether they could do so without falling into a paralysed shame over their participation in the development of racism, or being overcome by it. Often I wonder if minority teachers and parents will have white teachers and the correct parents. Would they support whites’ genuine attempts, even though they stumble or unwittingly offensive, to work together to stop discriminatory practises?

But we must learn to speak to each other so prejudices and fast categorization of individuals different from us represent our minimal familiarity with them. This categorizations are a slippery path towards classism and prejudice. We flesh others out of our heads and get acquainted with them with more encounters with others. For example, as we spend time with quadriplegics, we come to see them first as individuals with crippled limbs a further second far away. Those with a hardened position against LGBTQ rights relax when a family member announces that he is gay.

Yet it is uncomfortable to write of bigotry. We stop talks in schools because problems we are inexperienced to deal with might be stirring up. For a while, we might miss acquaintances or colleagues—or longer. Or we fear too much to speak or to do the wrong thing, or to be biassed that we cripple fruitful ways to learn about race and dispute resolution. We will alleviate these concerns by treating each other in good conscience and love. As Howard Stevenson reports in 2019,

Students,  parents and educators must predict, accept and offer love (nurturing), security (surveillance) and punishment (accountability) while risking awareness and learning to overcome ethnic tension and conflicts in everyday social interactions. Without these elements, the dangers of discrimination prevention would remain too high and improved racial divisions and racial environment in schools would be too daunting to achieve.