I’m pretty hot right now, so you know what that means… Ya boy gotta vent about some shit.
I want to start by saying, I can’t believe I even have to write about this shit, but living in America, I’m not even the least surprised…
So What Happened This Time Bruh…
I was driving home from the office today when I got a Facebook notification from a friend of mine. Traffic on my way home today was fucking ridiculous, so I had plenty of time to unlock my phone and check things out.
Now, before I jump into what the notification was, I should note that the majority of the shit I post on Facebook, matches the shit I talk about on TGA. In fact, I created the “Vent” category on TGA, just so I could rant about shit that I can’t fit in a Facebook post. So since I’m constantly posting about racism, white supremacy, anti-blackness, etc. it’s pretty normal for friends of mine to tag me in shit that involves any of the things listed above.
Today was no different…
I tapped on the Facebook notification and seconds later I saw a headline that had me shook. I mean, it’s a blessing my ass was stopped in bumper to bumper traffic at the time, cause if I saw what I’m about to share with y’all doing 70 on the highway…
My ass would probably be in jail, or in the hospital. Shit, probably both…
Here it is bruh: ‘Set your price for a slave’ | Letter sent home to parents in Mehlville School District after ‘culturally insensitive assignment’
Yeah, you read that shit correctly…
In case y’all didn’t feel like reading that article let me give y’all a quick summary of this pile of foolishness.
According to KSDK News, “A Mehlville School District principal sent a letter home to parents at an elementary school after students were given a ‘culturally insensitive’ assignment.
The assignment was for fifth-graders at Blades Elementary School.
In the ‘Colonial Market Assignment,’ the last question reads, ‘You own a plantation or farm and therefore need more workers. You begin to get involved in the slave trade industry and have slaves work on your farm. Your product to trade is slaves.’ And then it said, ‘Set your price for a slave. _________ These could be worth a lot.’”
I know for some of y’all this might not sound like a big deal (I’m going to deal with y’all later), and others might think this shit is so insensitive that it can’t be real. Rest assured, this shit is real, and yes there are receipts.
Seeing this raised a lot of emotions inside of me.
Anger, confusion, sadness, I mean I felt it all…
It never ceases to amaze me how extensive and invasive white supremacy is in America. It’s everywhere. White supremacy is deeply embedded in all structures of American culture, and to be honest, our education system is its number one weapon.
White Fragility: White Supermacies Secret Weapon
Remember when I said I’d deal with some of y’all later? Well, here we go… I’ll try to break this down as simple as I can.
Chances are you might be asking yourself, how does white supremacy relate to this story?
Before I jump into the weeds, I have to steal a line from my good friend Chris. In, ‘Are You A Racist? Am I?‘ my guy Chris says, “We get so hung up on the connotations of the label that we lose sight of the rationale behind using the word.” He was referring to the word racism in particular, but his rationale can be used for all words surrounding race here in America.
The word ‘white supremacy‘ is no different… As we take a deeper dive into how this question helps support the ideology of white supremacy, you must first open your mind to a more nuanced way of understanding what white supremacy is.
White Supremacy is commonly known as the belief that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and should, therefore, dominate society. A more nuanced way to see white supremacy is the idea that whiteness is the default option. Take the popular show, Friends for example. Friends has something like 10 seasons worth of episodes, countless hours of content, all without one black actor or actress in a lead or supporting role. Somehow, the lack of diversity is overlooked because after all, seeing nothing but white people on TV is “normal.”
Understand what I’m saying with this example. No, I’m not saying the show Friends is racist, nor was it a show that openly promoted racism. However, it is a product of white supremacy.
The title of this section is White Fragility: White Supermacies Secret Weapon. To understand the link between the two, one must couple their nuanced idea of white supremacy with a detailed understanding of what White Fragility is.
White Fragility is a term Robin DiAngelo created to help explain why it’s so tough for white people to talk about race and racism.
Robin says that White Fragility, “is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.”
It’s that last part that’s highlighted in bold text, that gives white supremacy its wings. White Fragility helps shut down the much-needed conversation this country needs to have to help right the wrongs that continue to plague this country.
Now that you know what White Fragility is you’re probably wondering, how does that relate to the assignment question above?
As Robin said above, White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable. It’s no secret that this country has a problem facing the truth about its bloody conception. I’d argue that White Fragility on a massive scale is to blame for this blatant whitewashing of history.
It’s the reason why “Thanksgiving,” is celebrated as a time for “giving,” as if the Native Americans gave the wealthy white English man this land… It’s the reason why most Americans don’t believe in reparations and believe that the racial wealth gap is only a result of lazy black people… It’s the reason why a fifth-grade Social Studies teacher thought it would be easier to talk about slavery by discussing it from the white slavers’ economic point of view, instead of discussing the many injustices that directly effected the decedents of Africans here on this land…
According to Blades Elementary School Principal, Dr. Jeremy Booker, “The assignment, which was completed during class time, attempted to address market practices. As part of both the Missouri Learning Standards for fifth-grade Social Studies and the fifth-grade Mehlville School District curriculum, students were learning about having goods, needing goods and obtaining goods and how that influenced early settlement in America.”
I can’t speak for the teacher’s state of mind, but by judging these comments coming from the letter the principal sent to parents, I believe it’s safe to say the teacher was suffering from a case of White Fragility.
Principle Dr. Jeremy Booker ended his letter by saying, “working with district leadership to provide all Blades teachers and staff with professional development on cultural bias in the near future.” One, they should’ve been doing shit like that. Two, cultural bias training is only half the battle. The other half of the battle is what I’d argue to be the most challenging. We must face the truth, and tell it without hesitation.
Don’t get me wrong, teaching the ugly truth of this country can be daunting work. Especially for kids still in elementary school. However, the truth must be told. No matter how challenging it might be. Why?
Because ignorance begets violence
Germany gave birth to one of the Western world’s worst nightmares, Hitler. Hilter brought nothing but pain, grief, and genocide to the world as he conquered most of Europe. If you go to Germany today you won’t see sculptures of fallen Gestapo officers or schools named after Hitler himself. Germany didn’t put Gestapo Müller on their money, nor will you find clothes designed with the Nazi battle flag on them. Why not? Because they aren’t afraid to face the truth of their country’s dark history.
We must do the same. Teachers of America. Do better.
So. Many. Thoughts. White fragility, supremacy, racism, ignorance… all woven into this one shining example.
But, in the end… you’re absolutely right about facing our past. In fact, if this same 5th grade social studies teacher had a real, honest, uncomfortable curriculum that included all the unfiltered history from the horrors of Columbus to the horrors of slavery and how it’s economic impact flows through to today… well, then that same teacher would likely avoid an assignment like this. 5th graders can handle the truth, in fact they love knowing things their parents don’t understand, they love knowing that their generation can be better than the rest of us. They don’t carry all the societal baggage yet.
Side note: We need more diversity in school administration and on school boards.
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