My wife recently reshared this video from +FCKH8 on Facebook featuring children and teens from #Ferguson on the subject of racism and white privilege.
I actually didn't watch it until another friend had commented on the sharing from "Young Conservatives," who criticized the video for playing the race card, hypocritical claims, blame-shifting, and opportunistically "only" giving nearly 40% of the cost of the t-shirts they were selling to an organization fighting racism.
One of the most common reactions to "stop being racist," that I've seen is the declaration, "I'm colorblind. I don't see race. I treat everyone equally." I guess I get the point - this is probably often said with the best of intentions, but I believe its ignorant and naive.
It doesn't matter if white (and/or majority) people want to declare racism dead, if black (and/or other minority) people still believe they're experiencing racism. The best (because it was the hardest) lesson I've learned in my eight years of marriage is that the intentions or rationality of your actions and words matter less to someone else than your tone and the way they perceive your actions and words. "Perception is reality," my wife would calmly remind me later, after the hurt had subsided.
To say to your students that the color of their skin (and their experience in that skin) doesn't matter to you or isn't at least a consideration in the way you build relationships or consider relevance for your lessons is to belittle a part of their identity.
|If your students identify with Mike Brown because he looks like them, then they identify with his story, too. You don't have to understand it, you just have to feel it. Listen to it. Let it happen.|
Here's what I think you have to understand if you feel offended by this video - as long as some of your students perceive that the educational (and real world) experience will be different for them because of their race, you have a responsibility to at least acknowledge that racism might still be "a thing."