For the record, I am not African-American; my ancestors hale from Norway, Ireland, Scotland and England. As a male, I find myself a part of the statistical white male dominant culture. So is it presumptuous or even offensive for me to be posting about African-American Parent Involvement?
To be honest, I don’t know. But I do know that by saying nothing I only perpetuate a number of problems plaguing our Champaign community today. So I am saying something, and hopefully it will not be too horrible.
We have a problem with racism. If you are black, white, brown, yellow, red or even purple, you also have a problem with racism. Maybe you are the victim. Maybe you are the oppressor. In some cases, you might not even know how it is affecting you. Today I watched a pretty amazing presentation (although it was quite long) that taught me about “implicit bias”, “institutionalized racism” and the “school to prison pipeline”. Wait! Before you totally dismiss this post, I have a cool video for you (it is hosted on YouTube, so be careful):
Count the number of passes:
This video is featured by one of the first panelists of the 2012 National Black Caucus of State Legislators Annual Conference. The entire Black Caucus C-SPAN video, clocking in at 2 hours and 18 minutes, really does an excellent job of explaining the often inadvertent ways our brains makes snap judgements and more specifically, how we have been programmed to have certain biases. I found the argument to be quite scary, because it very much makes sense in our “modern” society. And it is all the more sad for being true.
We have a system of multiple, complicated variables. We have variables that, according to the panelists, say “black is bad and white is good.” Note that this is a gross generalization – I can find a number of examples where white is bad and black is good. But the point is that statistically, discipline is meted out more often to African-Americans and even Latinos, while at the same time expectations of achievement for these groups remain low. In some ways, we have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. The panelists talk about how the “Zero Tolerance” policy has had tremendously deleterious effects. It very much reminds me of the so-called “War on Drugs” as painted by Michelle Alexander in her book “The New Jim Crow”. The panelists and moderator build up a very sound explanation of how this turns into a pipeline directly from school to jail to prison.
Why are we ok with this system?
So here is why I am promoting NAAPID. It’s not about saying black folks need to better connect with their kids. It’s more about how we all need to realize the importance of cooperating and acknowledging each other, how we all have strengths and weaknesses. This is Black History Month; a month that celebrates the sacrificial heroics of not only facing the oppressor, but effecting change for those oppressed.
Unit 4 will have some interesting things going on next week – check out the list.