“Hands and feet are all alike
But gold between divide us
Hands and feet are all alike
But fear between divide us.” — Dave Matthews
I was perusing through social media when I saw it. You’ve seen it before too I’m sure. A prominent African American scholar provided proof that systemic racism doesn’t exist. Their proof? Themselves. It’s what we call a longitudinal study in the polling business.
It’s all part of a master plan to put racism behind us. It must be a thing of the past. You see, that person was successful through hard work and perseverance, so you can be too. In the literal sense that is true. Everyone can be successful through hard work and perseverance. They also need to be perfect and therein lies the difference.
A lot has been made of racism in these spaces here. It isn’t simply a pet project of mine. The Texas legislature is focused on it too. Our history is already sanitized for our protection, so I’m not really sure why we need to continue to do it. However, some of the comments I’ve seen online can reveal a great deal.
Their complaint is that talking about racism and racist origins makes their kids feel guilty. Their kids shouldn’t be made to feel guilty. They didn’t do anything. I suppose there is a point embedded in there somewhere, but it is embedded in something that doesn’t exist. This is usually the way these things work. People complain about curriculum when they have no idea of what is actually being taught.
Now, we are passing laws to combat stuff that isn’t being taught in the first place. Teachers aren’t blaming their students for the ills of the past. Guilt and shame are complex things. All kinds of people can feel them for things they did not do themselves.
Good history curriculum causes kids to make connections between the history and the world around them. They can draw a line between the policies of the past and their present day effects. No one wants a kid to blame themselves for racism or racist policies. We want them to realize that they can become a part of the solution.
It’s a tough road to travel down with students. Admittedly, it is not one I’ve done effectively as a teacher. I always aired on the side of caution. I have gotten bolder as I’ve gotten older. That’s natural I guess as we gain more confidence and feel more job security. Obviously, the legislature is trying to pour cold water on that.
It can’t be a coincidence that they are doing this all the while they attempt to suppress voting. Who’s vote are they trying to suppress? So, we deny systemic racism while we perpetuate systemic racism. Then, we parade the exceptions to the rule to make you believe that the racism you see isn’t really there. The KKK was just a social club with homogenous membership. The burning crosses and the lynching’s didn’t happen. At least they don’t anymore and now everything is okay. Nothing to see here. Carry on with your day.