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I teach black and brown students US History, and I’m a white male. They are 11,12 & 13 years old. They are children. How do I explain to them or help them make sense of the fact that they are targeted for not being white? How do I explain to them that they from a young-age have been brain-washed for self-hate? How do I explain to them that it wasn’t until very recently that I was mostly oblivious to the fact that me being white meant people saw me as innocent until proven guilty, yet the black guy walking down the street right by me would be considered guilty until proven innocent?
How do I explain to them, that I didn’t even want to read the news, or watch the verdict of the cops with Breonna Taylor? Or that I never watched the full video of the cop putting his knee in George Floyd’s neck? How it is so easy for me as a white man, with a black girl-friend, two bi-racial black babies, to just turn it off and pretend not to notice the genocide of black and brown people in America?
I’m not embarrassed for turning the channel on my life, for trying to avoid horrible news. I’m embarrassed at how easy it is for me to turn it off. How privileged I am to be able to avoid it, and for it to largely not impact my life.
I see these message boards, and comments on YouTube, from videos – filled with hate. And it makes me sick to my stomach. Literally sick. I find myself overcome by a sense of…a feeling that…how do I teach about something that is literally working as it is designed? We live in a world run on “white-supremacy”. Yet, somehow this is still considered controversial to state and/or acknowledge, when it is actually how the system is designed.
There is nothing positive I can spin this into. What I wish I too could avoid, needs to continuously be spoken into existence, again and again. And even when there is a systematic change, we must never forget 400 years of slavery and oppression and bull-shit and brain-washing and white-supremacy that is too easily and readily denied, even by people who aren’t white.
It’s so embedded within us, to not acknowledge that the “Emperor has no clothes”, that when anybody does acknowledge it, he or she gets knocked down and verbally attacked. And I find that so uncomfortable. And yet….acknowledging how uncomfortable I don’t want to be, is implicitly harmful and toxic…and some ways racist in itself; because if I was black, I wouldn’t be crying about being knocked down or verbally attacked…I’d just continue to be scared for my life.
PS – If you enjoyed this post of mine, and are curious to read more about things of this nature, I invite you to check out other stories of mine such as this one “Crying for America” https://joshoffthepress.com/2017/10/12/crying-for-america/.
You can read this one with your (teenage) Kids! https://joshoffthepress.com/2017/01/12/who-are-you-going-to-be-spending-the-most-time-with-in-2017-updated-for-studentsyounger-peopleteenagers-2/
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