Last year, some of my first blogs on Detroit School Talk discussed race and education during the presidential election. Now that we are ten months into a new presidential term, things have not improved. It is getting worst.
Racism and fear seems to run rampant. In this climate, how can our children grow and learn? How do they receive a great education in a country where k-12 education is under funded because of fear and racism? I’ve learned that the best way to deal with racism and fear is through direct communication with all involved. It is hard and uncomfortable. But it can be very liberating. These are the type of conversations we need to have about today’s hot topics, such as taking a knee during the national anthem, police brutality and funding urban schools.
Recently, I started reminiscing about all of the race conversations I’ve had over the years.
The most insightful conversation was with a group of educators in Detroit. This group was made up of traditional public and charter school, non-profit and community leaders. Most of the people in this room have never spoken more than five words to each other. The conversation was hosted by EdFuel in Detroit. They held an education leadership conference and the first session’s title was “Race Relations.” I assumed it would go just like all the other white-washed conversations around race that I have been a part of during my career. It was a group of 25 people: Five Blacks, two Hispanics, and eighteen Whites. I was pleasantly surprised. The facilitator and the format forced the participants to get into a positive frame of mind while having direct conversations with those of the opposite race in short-timed conversations, which encouraged participants to be direct with one another.
Also, this format forces you to listen to others’ perspectives, but you also find yourself hearing your own thoughts and how they have developed within yourself over the years. The conversation forced each of us to be real with ourselves and with each other regarding race and education. The session set a great tone for the rest of the conference. I wish more government and education leaders went through this session.
After all, the conference was about urban education and how to improve it in Detroit. Race and education are linked as the cause of urban cities and school districts’ dysfunction. State policies driven by unsympathetic views are robbing urban areas of the opportunity to improve. In Michigan, leaders who don’t live or understand Detroit are making decisions about educating kids in Detroit.
This is racist, because these same “leaders” would not allow this to happen in their communities to their children. This goes to the root of people of color and their anger. What is good for one group should be good for all. Everyone should be treated with respect. Police officers should not be targets by citizens.
But citizens should never be targets of police. Our nation was founded on the promise that everyone has the right to pursue the American dream. This dream is not just for a few Americans. “Either they don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood”. – Doughboy (Ice Cube’s character), Boyz in the Hood. Part of the American dream is having access to a good education. School choice is great when all of the choices are great.
In Detroit, most choices are not good. We are not educating our children. What do you think these children will become if they are not a part of the American dream? Our children will become America’s nightmare. And it will be our fault. And all Americans will pay for it. We must take this opportunity to bring ourselves together as a nation, as a community, as a family. I say a family because all families are dysfunctional, but when they communicate together they succeed and thrive. As the American family we have to do the same. @Edfuel.org @Edu_post #Mileg
Hopefully, I will have a different blog to write about race and education next year.