Here are some interesting things we read this week about race, racism and equity in the United States.
From Barb Lee
This is a very good first step. Who else is ready to do the same?
“As National Geographic editors prepared an issue dedicated to race, they realized the 130-year-old magazine might face questions about its troubled history on the subject. So they asked John Edwin Mason, a University of Virginia professor who studies the history of Africa and photography, to dig through the magazine’s archives to examine its shortcomings in covering people of color in the United States and abroad. ‘Through most of its history, National Geographic, in words and images, reproduced a racial hierarchy with brown and black people at the bottom, and white people at the top,” Mr. Mason said in an interview on Tuesday.”
This school in Colorado has started the journey. It’s never fun, but people should know what’s happening there.
Parent Nancy Felix describes the culture of the private school in Arvada, Colorado as one of “silencing, of denial,…of no repercussions, [of] no accountability from the current superintendent and principal.” In January, one of the teachers hosted a “chapel,” similar to an assembly, to discuss the topic of racism with students and parents.
“And that’s when the firestorm happened,” Felix said. The Fox News journalist states that, “white students and their parents reportedly felt uncomfortable with the dialogue and content of the presentation” and the teacher who hosted the convening was fired. Felix went to the principal and explained how she felt about the situation: “you can’t fire the only person these children have to go to that’s safe that they trust because he tried to do something that was, in my opinion, really good.”
Fascinating and promising.
“In a study published in Psychological Science last year, researchers at the University of Kansas and Texas A&M set out to test what they call the “Marley Hypothesis.” The theory is that minorities may perceive current racism differently because they have more accurate knowledge about the racism of the past. The dominant group, in contrast, may deny racism because they’re ignorant of history. The thesis is more or less an academic attempt to test the assertion of “Buffalo Soldier” by Bob Marley: “If you know your history/then you will know where you’re comin’ from/and you wouldn’t have to ask me/who the heck do I think I am.”
From Catherine Wigginton Greene
Both sides of the debate about gun laws “invoke what the Founders would have thought,” and this article breaks down what they actually intended with the Second Amendment.
“At its best, the Second Amendment was a commitment to citizen participation in public life and a way to keep military power under civil control. At its worst, it was a way for whites to maintain their social domination.”
The article starts by examining an issue of the National Geographic that ran in 1916, where Aboriginal Australians are described as, “savages” who “rank lowest in intelligence of all human beings.” It then goes on to illustrate the portrayals of people color throughout the 20th century. This story is the beginning of a series about racial, ethnic, and religious groups and their changing roles in 21st century life. The series runs through 2018 and will feature Muslims, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.
“Race is not a biological construct, as writer Elizabeth Kolbert explains in this issue (There’s No Scientific Basis for Race- It’s a Made-Up Label), but a social one that can have devastating effects. ‘So many of the horrors of the past few centuries can be traced to the idea that one race is inferior to another,’ she writes. ‘Racial distinctions continue to shape our politics, our neighborhoods, and our sense of self.’ How we present race matters.”
New research conducted by Harvard, Stanford, and the Census Bureau finds that racism has far reaching effects for black boys despite their socioeconomic status in the United States. In most cases, black men earn less than their white peers who were raised in households with comparable income and familial circumstances. The data also concludes that this issue is exclusive to black men as black women with similar financial circumstances to their white peers earn about the same in annual income.
The research cites race bias as the primary reason for this disparity, debunking the notion that class is a deciding factor in economic mobility. Black boys are more likely to be disciplined on all levels from the classroom to the courtroom. Race bias towards black boys insists that they are more prone to violence and the denial of access to wealth is a direct result of that bias.
As professor and director of American University’s Antiracist Research Policy Center, Ibram Kendi, asserts, “One of the most popular liberal post-racial ideas is the idea that the fundamental problem is class and not race, and clearly this study explodes that idea… but for whatever reason, we’re unwilling to stare racism in the face.”