I am having a very odd moment right now. I take issue with white privilege. The reason is that there’s a piece of me that will always feel that white people are pretending they don’t know. They pretend that slavery happened and then black people had it good afterwards. They pretend that Rodney King happened in the nineties, Emmit Till was in the 60s and who’s Dred Scott?? 🤔 so what happens in 2016 doesn’t matter. More so that it does not connect.
I think about this because I work in higher education. I have experienced how white supremacy manifests itself in the field of education. And I’m not talking about just K through 12. I’m talking about how we teach parenting classes, how we engage with families as they enter into Academia, how we choose what to say and what not to say, how we are discouraged from being honest about the weaknesses in our particular institutions of education. Many times I feel like a salesman for education versus an ambassador. There is so much emphasis on the amount of students who are applying and graduation rates but no in-depth and systemic approaches to ensuring that once they apply that they make it to graduation. There has yet to be a shift in this supremacist based thinking, rhetoric and (in)action. In particular at-risk populations, which heavily comprise poor people of color, are greatly disadvantaged. And the reason is because of white supremacy.
You have to remember that this country, the United States of America, was founded on colonization. You can tell me all day long that Columbus and the pilgrims are revolutionary people in our history but that is not true. The real people who founded this country were degenerate bigots. We hold these presidents like Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson as the pinnacle of what society should want to be what we should try and become. But Lincoln massacred hundreds of indigenous Americans. And Thomas Jefferson was a rapist slave owner. He also has a quote that goes along the lines of that education is made for the roses and that the Bramble is made for labor. Now I can’t remember the exact phrasing but basically what that means is this country’s education system was founded on a hierarchical basis. Those of us who have been colonized… this country is not made for us whatsoever.
The sad thing is that so many of us people of color do not know our history even if we know who Grandma and Grandpa are we need to understand our literal history from the beginning of colonization in the US of A. Once you begin to tell brown people and other disenfranchised or marginalized groups the true history of their history in the United States of America the Mind begins to shift.
The reason I know this to be true is because too many times I am an anomaly amongst my peers. At a very young age my parents only taught me African American history. I was exposed to the Negro historical library. I was exposed to a slave stories from Virginia Hamilton. I was loved by my relatives. I was exposed to the south. My family did a very good job of always educating me and my siblings on how important it was to be black. To an extent we even believe that we were better because we were black. & I raise my son with that same mentality. I know the moment that a white teacher begins to teach history to our children it begins to demolish the image of self. And in order for us as a people to rise out of this extremely traumatic violation of our own selves, our literal and metaphorical bodies we must educate ourselves.
There is no excuse for how America has treated the the indigenous peoples of the world. We have to reclaim our history in order to survive. We have been systemically oppressed from the creation of whiteness and we have to openly and actively protest the systems of education as they stand now. We know that there is astronomical student loan debt. We know that there is something called the preschool to prison pipeline. We know that even though black people are graduating more often a black person with a bachelor’s degree is less likely to get a job than a white person who dropped out. If that doesn’t tell you something about white supremacy…😐. It means that systemically and institutionally black people are a threat when they know too much.
So we must fight. We must do better. We must strive towards Excellence. Pushing for independence and freedom. Because we have no choice if we want to continue to live.
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” — The Cancer Journals. Audre Lorde