The Emperors New Clothes
I was invited to a discussion on how to support the students as they return to school. How to make things less traumatizing for them as they and the teachers navigate learning during the pandemic.
I was like, wait a minute, we act like the pandemic is the issue inside the classrooms. So I listened respectfully to the comments about tips and tricks and it got to be too much. I ask the simple question, “why aren’t we talking about the teachers and staff show up with with unchecked, unexamined racism and how it is destroying our children’s ability to function properly?”
The pandemic is not the problem in the classrooms. The fact that teachers cannot teach or reach students they are not connected to, or interested in, is the issue. Don’t be acting brand new, the topic of racism is as old as you are and then some.
There is the fear of Black and Brown bodies, the lack of racial literacy, blatant racial acts of emotional violence against students of color. FYI, we call that “microagressions”, now we are calling it “racial gaslighting”. It all amounts to the same outcome. A racist teacher is allowed to run amuck and dehumanize Black and Brown children with no consequences and here I was listening to this crap about “keeping our kids safe as they return to the classroom”.
NOOOOO, I will not be complicit in the oppression of BIPOC children by pretending and making the best of a bad situation. I wanted to talk about racism and how that impacts whether or not the teacher is fit to teach a diverse classroom. I wanted to talk about ongoing trainings to support teachers who see the problem of racism inside the education system and don’t know what to do or where to start the repair. I wanted a real conversation and I realized, I would have to be the one to put myself on the line. So I did. Anything for the children. I was as uncomfortable as hell and so was everyone else in the room. Don’t Care!!
The woman of color facilitating the discussion, all credentialed with so many letters after her name, said “we know that racism is an issue in the school system”. What? Did Sista Gurl just normalized racism. Naw. Naw.. Yeah she did.
And everyone was happy to move on to the discussion at hand. But one of the parents on the panel, took the cue and said, “my kid was put into ESL class and he speaks perfect English”. Thanks Bro, it takes a village.
The response, “every immigrant (East African) entering the school system is automatically placed in ESL, it is the policy”. F*%k the policy, don’t you have any common sense?
Once a child is placed in ESL, some parents are not aware that label stays on their record and every teacher after that, will respond to them as if they are an uneducated immigrant. After all, the proof of whether or not you belong in this country is your ability to speak the English.
Well, the meeting was concluded by the credentialed Sista saying they would revisit the issue and reach out to the panel once they evaluated the responses. That was gaslighting for “don’t call us and we wont call you”.
I got the message. Not everyone is ready to have transformational conversations around race. I get it, it’s hard and frustrating trying to get on the same page about equality, especially when we are not making the connections with the racist systems and the people who work inside those systems, who hold unchecked racist beliefs.