I’m posting below something that Sean sent to me via private email this morning about this whole racism thing, and then this can be the final post on it here so we can get our focus on where it belongs – on good CI teaching. What Sean expresses below pretty much sums up my position on the whole thing, esp. the bridge analogy.
Here is Sean’s thinking on this topic:
“Why does [name of former member of the PLC] want to fight us so badly? He’s super defensive about not being a racist and that racism doesn’t exist. And that is not just professionally offensive but personally offensive to me.
“I just can’t associate with someone who won’t sympathize with the Black Lives Matter movement. If I have to work in the same school building as you, I will stand up to you, publicly. But your PLC is not a school building. It’s your private space, Ben. In a way, we are all your friends. Some more so than others. This is a unique time, in the movement after Floyd’s murder, where we are choosing to disassociate ourselves from people we were friendly with before but can’t be anymore because their views on race are hurtful. I’d much rather spend my time with people ready and willing to build bridges. That’s the only way the bridge is going to be built. With people like this, we’re busying ourselves standing on opposite sides of the river throwing water on each other. No bridge is being built. They need more help than we can provide.
“It’s like on Facebook recently, after Floyd. My wife would post video after video and post after post exposing police brutality. Then, late in June, a relative of mine who hadn’t responded, or liked even, any of these posts suddenly responds critically to a post of hers talking about Republicans blocking health care coverage for all. It came off as more than insensitive. It came off as plain hateful. If someone is going to engage with someone on the PLC about something more controversial or critical, they better have shown that you also post with an interest to help and heal.”
[Ed. note: Sean’s wife Candice is an African-American woman who has taught at Chicago Lab Schools for 5 years, an epicenter of privilege, and at a public elementary school in North Lawndale for 6 years, a neighborhood on the West Side that has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the country. We talk about racism, especially as she sees it, almost on a daily basis. He shares that he gets “daily insight on how our Black and Brown teachers might feel in their buildings.”]
Sean’s last sentence above expresses the idea that helped me decide to kick those guys off. I don’t care what they think of me. I care that in their words was no solution and as Sean said, “no expressed desire to come together, and a virulent unwritten message against any sort of healing.”
I’m personally thinking of it all this way – in my opinion we have now run out of time. African Americans are still getting shot, at an extremely disproportionate rate (more than 2.5 times than whites are getting shot but with a far smaller percentage – 13.4% of the population). Now we have to unite on the side of what is correct in terms of what is best for humanity, for our democratic values and also – let’s not forget – for our precious and unique Constitution.
Like Sean, I just don’t have the time to argue with people who choose not support the spirit of the Constitution, if they’ve ever even studied it. They don’t. It’s not about “agree to disagree” anymore – not when one of the sides leans away from justice and towards cruelty and bias, bc that’s what it is when out-of-control law enforcement spits and tramples on the Constitution and think it is their “right” to get away with it.
(Some real shit went down in Denver today – a mother w three children, the youngest being only 6 years old, was handcuffed and made to lie on the ground bc the police thought their car was stolen when what was stolen was a motorcycle. Think if that 6 year-old had been your own child. If the police are out of control, who will reel them in if not the people and our system of democracy?)