The CNN Article, Race, and Hypocrisy
While the CNN piece, “How ‘good white people’ derail racial progress” focused on one particular population (let’s call them “GWPs”), I would like to expand the focus a bit. Let’s also include bad white people (or “BWPs”).
It is important to consider both groups because members of one often provide information or language that can be used by members of the other to buttress their arguments. Furthermore, there are no clear lines between the two categories, as they could encompass many aspects of thought on race, so perhaps it is best to consider them as living, porous spectra. Sure, you could separate out a David Duke-type from a so-called “progressive” who is opposed to the school redistricting plan for what (occasionally) sounds on the surface like fair-seeming reasons (e.g., “the children would have to spend more on buses”)– but isn’t the impact of their position the same?
Beyond that, you have the out-and-out vocal racists, the “quieter” holder of racist attitudes and opinions who may or may not use thinly coded language in public and private, the willfully ignorant (many of the “colorblind” folks fall into this grouping), the people who employ racist arguments because it serves some selfish purpose of theirs (including those who loudly exclaim they aren’t racist but are willing to work with “BWPs” against anti-racists), and several other stripes of racist.
Of course, these alleged “GWPs” take umbrage when you call them out on their beliefs and actions. They will oft-employ every debate tactic in the book in an attempt to deflect criticism and/or exhibit behaviors intended to express how cruel and wrong the anti-racist is (the crying, oh the crying, “how can you say I am a racist!? I…[fill in the blank].”
A common element between GWPs and BWPs is that they both center themselves. They don’t consider the many merits of a small measure of “sacrifice” (such as longer commute times) in order for their children to have a far more rewarding educational experience at a school with greater socioeconomic diversity. No, they would rather think in narrow terms (School rankings! Home values! Neighborhood schools!) that are grounded in short-sighted selfishness. And, because of this lack of forward-thinking, and their feeling as though they are somehow “under attack” (sound familiar to what is going on nationally?), they are willing to embrace pro-segregation stances.
This is why uncomfortable conversations need to take place. If there is to be any real progress on race (and education) in our nation, there needs to be open and honest dialogues and a reassessment of values and what it means to be an American. Justice has been long delayed and until the dominant power bloc (comprised largely of GWPs and BWPs) recognizes its culpability in preventing the march towards a more perfect society, these debates – such as the recent HoCo redistricting controversy – will recur, eternally.