We throw around the term “systemic racism” quite a lot, at times using it to excuse individual racism. We have all read the troubling statistics about institutional racism in research and education. But, what have we personally done about it? I argue that in reducing this reality to percentages, we risk glossing over the on-the-ground reality of how systemic racism negatively impacts both minorities as well as those with privilege. As a humanist, I approach a critique of data usage by arguing we must attach real people and their lived experiences to these numbers if we are serious about seeing a meaningful change in the world.
The discussion will go as follows:
First, I will begin the discussion by introducing these complex and sensitive terms, such as white privilege, white fragility, and colorblind racism. I will do so through a discussion of my own process of coming to terms with my own white privilege and the accompanying white fragility. (approximately 5 minutes)
Second, in order to demonstrate that data cannot account for lived realities, I will then read a short section of my forthcoming book about white teachers, what we don’t understand about our Black and brown students, and just how damaging our ignorance is to minors’ sense of self and determination. Rather than focusing on the widespread impact of systemic and individual racism, I show how this impacted one student in particular, and what they had to say about it. (15 minutes)
And lastly, I would like to open it up for a discussion about how we grapple with our own race, class, or gender privilege, why it is such a difficult self-reckoning few are willing to do, and hopefully illustrate the profound value of doing so, for yourself, and beyond. (20 minutes)
About me: I’m the author of Post-PhD the blog, originally began as a whistle blower to abuses of power and research exploitation in higher education, but has since expanded to address secondary education and its exploitation of POC. I also run the weekly newsletter NSFS: Not Safe for School, where I send a snark-filled dispatch that includes anti-racist reading recommendations, new Post-PhD alerts, and my personal musings on my journeys across the underbellies of both higher education and secondary education in the U.S.
I’m a former academic who studied intersectional feminism and anti-racist contemporary art for her doctorate. After my dramatic exodus from academia, I became a teacher in an urban high school in the U.S. that is overwhelmingly Black and brown. I’m currently on hiatus from teaching to finish my book, which is currently nearly finished (at least I hope so).