Friday, January 22, 2016

Talking about Race

A number of events /reports have crossed my path in the last couple of weeks and I thought it worth a thread.

Next Saturday, January 30th,  there will be an Education Roundtable to discuss the impacts of student discipline on communities of color.   Among the groups involed there are The Washington State Commission on African American Affairs, Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, and Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs, along with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and El Centro de la Raza.  The event will be held at El Centro's headquarters at 2524 16th Avenue S. from 1-3:30 pm. 

Attend this event and share your experiences and feedback with our expert panel:

-Wanda Billingsly, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Tukwila School District
-Sukien Luu, Supervising Attorney, U.S. Department of Education
-Jennifer Harris, Education Ombuds and Policy Analyst, Office of the Education Ombuds
-Calandra Sechrist, Director, Equity and Civil Rights, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

As well, the City has a survey out - Race and Social Justice Community Survey.  It includes five questions about SPS and I wish I had taken a screenshot because, as I recall, they were asking things that an average person who didn't have kids in SPS might have no idea about.  I have to wonder about asking questions like that because people tend to answer questions and it could truly skew the survey (in that section.)  If you take it, write them down and send them to me, please.)

I received a great article from long-time public ed activist (and she makes me look like an amateur - there should be a statue at some school for her), Dr. Carol Simmons.  It comes from the International Examiner and it's called Disaggregating data on Asian Pacific Islanders reveals hidden stories of disparity.

In college and graduate school, (Ay) Saechao studied the Southeast Asian educational gap, and created a research paper and survey about educational issues among the Mienh. After earning a master’s degree in education from the University of Washington, he co-founded SEA³eD (Southeast Asian American Access in Education Coalition), a grassroots organization.

Glancing at the data, it might be easy to assume that Asian Pacific Islanders in the state face few major hurdles in education, income, health care, or housing compared to other groups. According to aggregated data, APIs lead in educational attainment, for example: according to data from the American Community Survey, 47 percent of Asian Americans in Seattle possess at least a bachelor’s degree, a higher percentage than for whites, African Americans, and Latinos.

But the way data is collected by the city and state can be misleading. While Asian Pacific Islanders in Washington comprise 25 countries of origin, they’re often treated as one category. Disaggregating the data—holding a magnifying glass to the numbers, zooming in on the sub-group level—can reveal large disparities. It can reveal entire communities who need better targeted services.

Picture 1 

The Stranger Slog has a thought-provoking piece on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's new single, White Privilege II that is reviewed by Sean Nelson who says good and bad things about it but ends:

“White Privilege II” is the most accurate musical reflection of the soul of white liberal Seattle I have ever heard. And, speaking both as an exponent of and disgrace to that benighted caste, I will almost definitely never listen to it again, at least not on purpose.

Seattle's Black Lives Matter Nikkita Oliver worked on it with Macklemore/Lewis and she shares her thoughts about it with The Stranger.

This song is a product of the System; which means it is neither a solution nor comprehensive. It is undeniably emblematic of the problem it purports to articulate.

That said, I can tell most white people about white supremacy till I am blue in the face and they won't hear me. Conversation is not enough. Yet every white person I know who is now a part of undoing white supremacy was first moved to do so by dialogue and study.

Dialogue is not enough. Dialogue is not the beginning nor the end. Dialogue is a necessary and imperative part of entry into the actual work of undoing systemic oppression, undoing racism and and ending internalized and institutionalized white supremacy.

Lastly, I will end with a very sad (and truly disgusting and disheartening) story.  Desert Vista High School, outside of of Phoenix, has a senior day and more than 700 students lined up for group photos. Often, groups wear t-shirts with messages that are supposed to be vetted by the administration.

Six girls wore black t-shirts that spelled out the n-word.  They were all - to a girl - laughing and smiling.

From U.S. Uncut:

The school’s Black Student Union defiantly responded by tweeting a picture with a group of white and black students smiling together under the banner #thunderstrong. They also echoed the district’s sentiment that the six girls who wore the shirts spelling the racial slur do not reflect the Desert Vista High School student body

I will not put up the photo nor their names.  But I hope they are shunned at school for their terrible thought-process that led them to this decision.

The school district says they will be disciplined (and that seems to be a 5-day suspension which REALLY is not enough.)  Don't let those girls go to prom or graduation and I think they would really learn a lesson. 


Anonymous said...

The girls shirts read NI**ER not NIGGER. The word NIGGER is thrown around these days very nonchalantly. If you truly are discussed by the use of the word, then maybe your should start with the black community where it most commonly used.

My Nigger

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
seattle citizen said...

My N...
You really don't understand an oppressed group reclaiming a word? My Black friends can use it; I can't. Pretty straightfoward.
If a random person walked up to a gay person and called them a fa***t, that's offensive and an insult. If one gay person calls another that, it's not.
Pretty basic.
Six white girls spelling it out to purposely get it into that picture? Offensive and ill-informed.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Seattle Citizen, hoping this will be civil but if someone thinks you can throw that word around "nonchalantly" and doesn't understand who can say it and why, we're all in trouble.

Jet City mom said...

If we are talking about aggregate groupings, African americans are treated as a group, whether their ancestors have been here for one generation or five, as well as Asian Americans and btw " whites".

Unknown said...

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