Mentioning Race Doesn’t Mean I am Being Racist
I sat in a parent meeting one day with about four other parents. In a cold classroom we stuffed our awkward adult bodies and legs into miniature seats and desks. After we listened to the who’s and what’s of how the school works it was time for questions. One parent wanted to know how they would assist their child who wears a hearing aid. Another parent raised her hand and asked if her twins could be placed into separate classes. Both requests were met with smiles, nodded heads and faces contorted into soft lines of concern. The person leading the meeting was sure the school would provide a headset to help the student hear in class, and separating twins, no problem. Then, I raised my hand and asked: ‘How does the school plan to address diversity?’ After my question it was so quiet in the room I heard a stomach growl and the hands ticking away on someone’s watch. I’d mentioned race and you know how that is - a definite no-no. Race issues are always uncomfortable, but completely acceptable in certain contexts like:
- Police officers racially profiling
- A political candidate’s racial background or poll numbers with different races
- Housing discriminatory practices
- Job hiring discriminatory practices
- Black students represent 42% of preschool suspensions
- Eighty-one percent (81%) of Asian-American and 71% of white high school students attend high schools where the full range of math and science courses are offered (Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, calculus, biology, chemistry, physics)
- Less than half of American Indian and Native-Alaskan high school students have access to the full range of math and science courses in their high school.
- Black students (57%), Latino students (67%), students with disabilities (63%), and English language learner students (65%) also have less access to the full range of courses.
- Not seeing people of color in the curriculum
- How should a work force that is over 85% white and female connect with their students (think about this, would an ad company ignore the needs of their target demographic if they wanted to engage their customer – never)
- Whether or not entrance into gifted and talented class would truly be meritocratic
- Access to quality preschools
- Offset the socio-economic privilege of neighborhood advantage and social networks
What do you think? Is calling out race a racist thing to do?