Self-Evaluation: Are You Ready

One thing I'm really good at is talking to white teachers (who are ready) about how to interrupt white supremacy in the classroom. Obviously this matters to me, because I'm over and done with the criminalization of black and brown kids (and adults) and I'd like to see the end of the school to prison pipeline closed, like, uh, yesterday. I get lots of requests and emails asking this very crucial question from white teachers?

Am I ready?

Let me just answer that question right here:

1. Are you ready to get your feelings hurt?

Because they are going to get hurt a lot. You are going to feel bad and guilty and sad. You are going to feel personally attacked and victimized. You're going to have to get over it though, because it's part of the process. Surely you don't want your hurt feelings getting in the way of undoing all the harm racism and poverty cause your kids right? Move to step 2.

2. Get over yourself

Like get really, really good at getting over yourself. If you take things personally, do the work (with friends, a therapist, your parents, just not another personal of color who hasn't volunteered to help you with this - we have enough to deal with). That means be ready to avoid saying things like "but I grew up poor too," or "I never benefited from being white," and LAWD never even think of saying "I always wanted to be black. I mean I LOVE basketball." If you do say those things and you get checked, get the fuck over it. Apologize and move on. Avoid saying "but I'm not racist." This isn't about you, it's about systematic race based oppresion. Get over whatever shit, it ain't helping you help your kids. This step is an ongoing process and is the most challenging. It will go on forever, but you will get better at it. Keep trying

3. Build your knowledge

Please avoid doing this the lazy way that harvests knowledge from people of color (POC). There's this thing called google. Please familiarize thyself with words  and phrases like white privilege, oppression, anti-racism, school to prison pipeline, opportunity gap and please (seriously please) understand the difference between prejudice and racism:

From Stuff White People Do:

 

People of any race can commit acts of violence, mistreatment, ostracizing, etc., based on their racial prejudices. A black kid can beat up a white kid because he doesn't like white kids. An Indian person can refuse to associate with Asians. Whatever, you get the idea.

 

However, to be racist (rather than simply prejudiced) requires having institutional power. In North America, white people have the institutional power. In large part we head the corporations; we make up the largest proportion of lawmakers and judges; we have the money; we make the decisions. In short, we control the systems that matter. "White" is presented as normal, the default. Because we have institutional power, when we think differently about people based on their race or act on our racial prejudices, we are being racist. Only white people can be racist, because only white people have institutional power.

Also - check yourself on number 2. Did your feelings get hurt? Is your brain trying to defend you with things like "but I'm not racist, I love black people!" Stop doing that and get over yourself. It's not about you remember. It's about undoing institutionalized oppression. The train is moving, are you moving with it or against it?

4. Are you still working on number 2 and owning / moving past your shit. Keep working on it. How? Be specific and honest with yourself.

5. Are you talking to other white folks about #3? Are you having difficult conversations and calling out racism when you hear it from white friends and family. Are you educating folks around you?

You're ready now. Email me.