Article I: "Deconstructing Privilege: Teaching and Learning as Allies in the Classroom" -Armstrong & Wildman
Article II: "The next time someone says 'all lives matter,' show them these 5 paragraphs" - Roose
Armstrong and Wildman's piece was very eye-opening and relevant for me as a public school teacher in Providence.
The authors focus on the issue of "colorblindness", its meaning and the detrimental effect this way of thinking can have on our society. The authors argue that this now widely accepted term is often used by people (often white people) to show that they are not racist or prejudice - indeed, they are "so not racist" that they apparently do not see color in people's identities. To be "color blind" is a common them across all levels of education in this country; students are taught that "we are all the same" and no one person is better than the next based on race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. Armstrong and Wildman flip this common idea, and argue that to be "color blind" is to be ignorant; indeed, the only way to break down ever-present societal barriers is to acknowledge our differing privileges and disadvantages - a process called "color insight". The authors argue that color insight provides an appropriate antidote to color blindness.
If being "colorblind" is so bad, why is it ingrained in us at such an early age. In kindergarten we are taught that "everyone is the same" and that we shouldn't focus on attributes that make us different - ultimately, this will make the world a better place. In theory, it sounds like a great idea. I must admit that I even felt like this not too long ago. I have definitely moved against this way of thinking. The reality is that we do not live in a society where all persons are treated equally. If we are "colorblind", we are basically saying that we are ignorant to the fact that these privileges and disadvantages exist. As Armstrong and Wildman propose, we as a society need to recognize these differences in order to potentially eradicate the constraints that hinder all of us in some way.
Armstrong and Wildman note that teachers, especially college professors, have the responsibility to teach their students "color insight" instead of "color-blindness". We often do not see this. Many colleges preach "diversity", but in a way that says "we are all the same". I wonder how Armstrong and Wildman would feel about the common, staged college pamphlet photos where seemingly every race and disability is crammed into a room. Do these photos suggest "we are all welcomed here" or so they support the common trend in colleges where one black student suddenly represents all black students (and white students should "learn diversity lessons" by having lunch with him or her)?
While the authors suggest that this education should happen in colleges, I would take this a step further and say that this education is imperative and should be taught at an earlier age. Perhaps early elementary school students are too young to understand these implications, but students should have our unbalanced world explained to them by middle school at least. While Armstrong and Wildman offer some great ways in which teachers can inform their students, I believe that many educators would struggle to teach these lessons to their students. For one, many educators will become defensive - they did not create white privilege, we have a black president now, and now its time for us as a society to move on. Of course, many of us know that we still live in a racially biased society, but I have my doubts that many teachers would want to teach these lessons to their students. I say this because race and racial biases are difficult issues for teachers to talk about. It is easier to just "play it safe" and teach a curriculum, then to discuss racial privilege and potentially anger an entire class, administration, and a group of parents.
The authors also explain that we should not be afraid to talk about the personal "me" in relation to society. As illustrated by the "koosh ball" example - everyone has privileges and non privileges. We as educators should not be afraid to tell our students about our own personal "me" - our story and our positions in society. I do this in my own classroom at the beginning of each course. I explain that I went to college, but both my parents are both immigrants and my dad is a construction worker. This allows me to relate with my students more. Still, I do not allow my students enough space to explain their own personal "me". I stress that this will take away from the curriculum. I should allow my students this space to acknowledge their own positions in society, as well as their peers'.
Kevin Roose's article on "All Lives Matter" was very eye-opening. Over the past several years, the movement "Black Lives Matter" has spread throughout the country, calling for media, police, government officials, and society in general to recognize that black lives are just as important and deserve the same privileges as those more fortunate in society. In light of this, many people have become defensive or looked down on the movement, calling it seclusive; many opponents have suggested that "All lives matter" would be a better alternative. Indeed, there was recently a large sign posted here in Providence seemingly mocking the :Black Lives Matter" campaign; the sign said "Brown Lives Matter" with the Brown University crest just below it. I found the Reddit user GeekAesthete did a remarkable job explaining why "All lives matter" is not a proper response using his analogy to the dinner table and food. He explained that yes, all lives do matter, but the point of the movement is that black lives matter too. I think this was a very clear explanation, and one that really helped me to understand the slogan as well.