The racist in the classroom.

I am not worthy or qualified to write this post. There are far more skilled journalists and education journalists, social justice writers and resources. But I do have something to say, if only for my own little corner of my mind and heart.

To the white teachers who 1. Voted for Trump 2. Continue to support white supremacy 3. Do zero self-reflection or move against their husbands (because it’s often white women who uphold the patriarchal structures) and 4. Maintain neutrality in these times I say you are a horrible excuse for a human and teacher.

Let me guess. You’ve read Night by Elie Weisel or The Diary of Anne Frank, you have a poster of a whitewashed Martin Luther King, Jr. or have shown and/or read Freedom Writers with Zlata Filipovic and Erin Gruwell. You discussed All the Light We Cannot See by Anothy Doerr in your bookclubs and felt very literary and aware. Your favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and you wished you were Scout when you were little. And yet: you still voted for Trump. Or your husband did. Maybe you cherry-picked his words until he hit just the right chord. You may have watched him on The Apprentice and been entertained by his brash, and seemingly “tell it like it is” style while low-grade celebrities dashed around for his favor. What you may not have realized at the time is you were engaging in a culture war against your very students.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
–Real estate mogul Donald Trump, presidential announcement speech, June 16, 2015
“I can never apologize for the truth. I don’t mind apologizing for things. But I can’t apologize for the truth. I said tremendous crime is coming across. Everybody knows that’s true. And it’s happening all the time. So, why, when I mention, all of a sudden I’m a racist. I’m not a racist. I don’t have a racist bone in my body.”
–Trump, interview on Fox News’ “Media Buzz,” July 5, 2015
“What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/07/08/donald-trumps-false-comments-connecting-mexican-immigrants-and-crime/

You don’t think Brett Kavanaugh is that bad of a guy, because you have a son and sure would hate if he was falsely accused of rape and sexual abuse. You don’t know why the liberals want Trump impeached, and what’s the big deal that he has colluded with foreign agents, or profits and completely disregards the Emoluments Clause? You also probably conveniently forget that the Founding Fathers put those protections in place for exactly these moments, owned slaves, and were all for separation of church and state. In other words: paradoxes. Lots of paradoxes.

And after a thread on another social media group, where a teacher asked humbly and respectfully how to approach conversations about white privilege (her students didn’t
believe it existed versus how does it manifest itself) some of the responses and racists underpinnings left me in despair.

There are others besides myself who spoke up. We all need to speak up.

“My view of it?”

My view of it? Make their own choices? Teachers: first, get a grip on what ‘false equivalency’ is. Yes, all issues have two sides, and if you choose the side of the oppressor, giving them equal status, you are the oppressor, too. Does that taste bitter? Do you reject that? If you’re uncomfortable or angry you may need to rethink your stance. You’re wrong.

“One citizen”

Yes, this teacher misspelled ‘border.’ But okay. This was in response to my statement about US Citizens are being detained. This surprised this woman. She had never heard of this. But no shock since she thinks they ‘are trying to sneak in illegally.” She doesn’t seem to have heard of asylum laws. But let’s think about that for a bit: she thought this ‘one citizen’ was ‘playing both sides’ (whatever the @!*! that means) and not realizing even ONE means ALL. But go ahead and say your pledge, lady.

Hear me: if you bristle at being called a racist, no one cares. No. One. Cares. Your measurement of yourself in this moment is not at stake. If you are a teacher, and you’re in a classroom with humans–you have a sworn duty to work at anti-racist work for all of your students. Do not uphold the white kids’ privilege: it does everyone harm.

You have some work to do. Start with these:

https://timesevents.nytimes.com/1619NYC

Other links and resources:

https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/fall-2019/advice-for-new-social-justice-educators-i-wish-i-had-known?fbclid=IwAR17-xYlpWIe-PSBe5DJePrtN0H5Hv5cP7fbO4r1rxguCDEhm2_QjFzOj9g

https://disrupttexts.org/

https://www.facinghistory.org/

https://www.pbs.org/weta/reconstruction/

13th

When They See Us (And this is a pivotal example of Trump’s deeply embedded racism)

Guess what? If you stop your hypocrisy (you are not allowed to read Anne Frank and feel “woke”) and start to evolve, you may lose some friends. You may alienate some family members. But you will also have your integrity, and moreover, do what’s right by the students in your care. If you can’t do that, please stop teaching.

2 comments

  1. So true and so infuriating. “No politics in the classroom” (okay, maybe in math its kinda maybe possible, but even numbers are political, nevermind, even in math) is the epitome of white privilege.

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