Race and Education, American Style


“Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Recently, NPR attempted to discuss race in our schools. The piece, Want To Address Teachers’ Biases? First, Talk About Race, is a pretty fair (if basic) look at how some of our implicit biases are reflected in our teaching. As a Latino teacher, I appreciate the honesty of this look at our personal biases and from what I’ve seen this year these types of discussions are finally beginning to be brought into the open. Discussions around systemic inequity must include a look at the entire system, and that means that those of us who have the most contact with children have to be reflective and constantly strive to be better.

I have a pretty hard and fast rule when it comes to online news stories: Never Read the Comments. So when this story first came across my social media feed, I listened and read it, shared it on Facebook, then moved on. But damnit, someone told me I had better read the comments… and sadly I did. Here are some gems:

“Without Whites there would be no America for Blacks to continue to complain about once being abused in.”

“Until the Black culture owns and addresses their own problems, blaming others will only prolong the problem.”

And this one had me just about screaming obscenities at the screen: “Black kids are suspended at four times the rate because, as a group, they misbehave four times as often.”

I mean this from the bottom of my heart: a lot of these people are just ignorant morons. The level of racism (and sometimes just outright freaking idiocy) displayed through most of the comments is hardly astounding though, and shows why our need to push for racial equity in our schools, and society, must continue.