Systemic oppression demands a systemic exodus

Systemic oppression demands a systemic exodus

Our traditional public schools are systemically inequitable — in Seattle, in Washington State, and everywhere else in the United States. Put another way, our schools are consistently producing inequitable outcomes based on race and family income, and it’s a form of systemic oppression.

We know this, most of us. But for most of us, that’s all we do. We know it. It’s mostly an intellectual idea.

So instead of idle knowledge, let’s consider for a moment what that really means — systemic oppression — and what it means for us as human beings.

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Here's the real reason people oppose charter schools in Washington State

Here's the real reason people oppose charter schools in Washington State

Yet again, charter schools and the principle of school choice prevailed this week in Washington’s courts.

Great, wonderful, fine, etc. This is important, but at the same time, we’ve had this conversation before. It’s time to dig deeper.

Why has all this been happening? Moving beyond talking points and rhetoric, why have people and organizations really been fighting charter schools so vehemently?

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Let's talk about the erosion of the soul that quietly comes along with constantly confronting racism

Let's talk about the erosion of the soul that quietly comes along with constantly confronting racism

By Naomi Langley

Today I had this sort of epiphany...

I'm tired. Really, really tired.

I'm tired, and I'm drained from this ongoing conversation on racism. Honestly. I know the work needs to be done. I know there are white people who react super positively to my words, thoughts and feelings. Some of y'all really get it, and it gives me hope — hope for my baby cousins, nephews and nieces that are coming up in this world.

But there are others that get so mad — and get me so mad — and it becomes a dark cycle of anger and aggression. These people seek to end the conversation, continuing to silence us.

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A challenge on Opening Day: Stop saying the name of the Cleveland baseball team

A challenge on Opening Day: Stop saying the name of the Cleveland baseball team

Today is Opening Day, the first of many days I'll spend watching baseball with my sons again this season. On this most glorious and joyous day of the year, I'd like to offer you a challenge: Don't say the name of the Cleveland baseball team this season.

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The Rise Up and Be Recognized Awards: Honoring a Handful of 2017's Local Heroes

The Rise Up and Be Recognized Awards: Honoring a Handful of 2017's Local Heroes

Welcome one and all to the first semi-annual, fully manual Rise Up and Be Recognized Awards. Thank you for being here, wherever that may be.

These awards were created by me as a way to recognize a handful of Washingtonians who deserve a few extra hand-claps for the way their work and their way of life contributed to positive change in 2017.

The judging process was stringent and unscientific. I created the categories to suit my fancies, and I’ve awarded fake awards to whatever number of people I please. By the end, I’ll have failed to mention just about everyone, so if you find you've been omitted, don’t despair. The pool of nominees was limited to people I know about and managed to think of while writing this, and as a periodic shut-in, that’s not as long a list of names as you might think. For instance, I only finally discovered a few months ago that Chance the Rapper is amazing, if that gives you some idea. So, if you or someone you know has been egregiously overlooked, please get in touch with me and I’m sure I’d be happy to make up some new awards in the near future.

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Guest Post: What message are we sending to black children when we tell them only integration will save them?

Guest Post: What message are we sending to black children when we tell them only integration will save them?

By Chris Stewart

A story ran last week from the Associated Press about segregation in charter schools, and, right on cue a lot of my reform-loving friends rushed to their keyboards to bang out rebuttals and register complaints.

While I think most of the article was a wandering fiat against data and common sense, there is one important takeaway to seize.

Please excuse me while I now turn my attention to black parents for a moment. Black folks, it’s time you had the talk with your children.

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A perfect metaphor for white privilege, courtesy of Quora

Answer by Omar Ismail, Stand Up Comedian, on Quora.

I am white. That's all you know about me. Am I privileged based on that alone and assuming I am, should I feel guilt and what should I do about it?

Absolutely.

Consider it this way. All I know about you is you’re tall.

Do you have any advantages?

Yes.

Does that mean you don’t deserve the can of tuna on the higher shelf? No. Nobody is saying that. Eat away mighty giant.

Should you feel guilty about getting the tuna from the top shelf? No. Nobody is saying that. Lighten your soul’s burden and let it fly free in the clouds beneath your knees.

Does that mean short people can’t get the tuna? No. Nobody is saying that.

Does that mean there aren’t disadvantages of being tall? No.

Nobody is saying that. You have our sympathy for your poor bruised knees.

What people are saying is:

  1. Denying you are lucky is silly.
  2. Stop looking bewildered every time a short person can’t reach something. We’re sick of explaining this incredibly simple concept.
  3. We know there are things you do not have (i.e. even higher shelves).
  4. We know there may be other things preventing you reaching the high shelves. Maybe you have bad elbows or arthritis. Short people with arthritis are still below you. You are still lucky you are tall.
  5. It works out well for most people, for the grocery store to put most things on medium shelves.
  6. If you can help shorter people with things on higher shelves, do so. Why would you not do that? Short people can help you with stuff on lower shelves.
  7. We are annoyed that the people who run the grocery store put all the best stuff on the top shelves.
  8. There are a lot of people who are putting things on higher shelves because they hate short people. Don’t associate with those people. They want everything to be about this height:
hitler stands with arms outstretched.jpg

 

Same with white. Advantages. It doesn’t mean you’re rich. It doesn’t mean you’re luckier than a lucky black guy. Nobody wants you to be crippled with guilt. Nobody has ever wanted that, or means those things.

It means you have an advantage, and all anyone is asking is that you *get* that. Once you get that, it’s pretty straightforward to all the further implications.

 

This question originally appeared on QuoraI am white. That's all you know about me. Am I privileged based on that alone and assuming I am, should I feel guilt and what should I do about it?

The Privilege of Ignoring Race

A year ago today, I was out in Ferguson.

Two years ago today, Michael Brown had been dead for a day, murdered on Aug. 9, 2014. A few weeks later, I wrote this. This seemed like a good time to take a second look at it.


I have read and heard and seen a lot of people saying a lot of different things about race in the wake of the Michael Brown tragedy — some compassionate, some ambivalent, some ignorant. This is something true:

I took this picture this morning. Then Lindsay told Julian about Michael Brown, about who he was and what happened to him. She told him about how most police officers are people to trust, but that sometimes they make mistakes. She told Julian that it isn’t fair, but that sometimes he will need to be extra careful as he gets older because of the way he looks — that he will have to be that much more careful to stay out of trouble, to stay away from what looks like trouble, to stay in after dark, because it’s a matter of safety. She told him about having called to check in with his uncle Spencer a few days earlier, about asking Spencer if he was safe in L.A. and if he was being careful. She asked him if he understood. Julian asked a question or two, Lindsay answered, and then it was done.

This is what all this means to me:

Some have argued that the Michael Brown shooting isn’t about race. Many others have at least wondered. As you may know, I am white. I can tell you from experience that it is a privilege to ignore race. It is a privilege to be able to wonder whether or not this tragedy is a racial issue. It is a privilege to not have to start poking tiny holes in your six-year-old son’s bubble of innocence and sweetness in the days before he starts kindergarten.

We had conversations about race in my family when I was very young, too, and most of them were also very direct. Most of them even acknowledged the presence of danger and the possibility of violence. I vividly remember getting a version from my dad in elementary school of what his dad had told him as a kid: that there aren’t many good reasons to fight, but that if he heard anyone using the N-word at school — or using any other slur, or using anyone’s race or gender to hurt them or make them feel small — he had better step in and put a stop to it or come home with a bloody nose for having tried. That might not exactly fit with Dr. King’s belief in non-violence, but the message was clear: This is important. Not only do we not tolerate hate or racism, we will actively fight it. It’s a family value.

There is a subtle-but-important difference between these two sets of conversations, though. My parents (also white, coincidentally) chose to have these conversations with me and my siblings. They encouraged us to choose to stand up against blatant racism and hate. But I was not the target in the hypotheticals. I was on the sidelines. The guns wouldn’t have been aimed at me, so the conversation was different.

Lindsay and I talked with Julian this morning because he won’t have a choice. Julian needs to hear this, because he cannot choose out of his skin color or his black heritage. I can choose into the conversation, choose to step into the conflict. Julian does not have that privilege. He is about to start attending public school in a district that has recently been under scrutiny for disciplining black boys much more frequently than any other group. He will be stereotyped, he will too often be seen and heard through a racial lens, and he cannot avoid it. He cannot choose a different path. Before long, he will be, say, 10 years old and tall for his age. Soon after he will be a teenage boy of color living in a major city. He won’t have the privilege of staying on the sidelines when a police car drives past the park where he’s hanging out with his friends after dark. He won’t have the privilege of deciding it’s not about race when he makes a mistake and gets caught. And Lindsay and I, as parents, don’t have the privilege of giving him an option. We don’t get to decide whether or not he’s ready, because he has to be ready, because he has to stay safe. Because someone will call him a horrible name, and someone will treat him differently — probably unintentionally — because of how he looks, and because at some point, someone will view this sweet, loving kid as more of a threat, and he needs to understand what’s happening if he’s going to stay safe. He has no other choice.