OF RACE AND INEQUITY
I must admit that I have struggled lately with what to write. Between a local school board here in Nashville that continues to be unresponsive to legitimate questions about the practices of the new administration, the state of Tennessee continuing to refuse to address real school financing issues, and the recent nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, things are feeling pretty grim, and I am questioning just how much impact I am capable of making. Being a public education advocate has always been like playing a game of three-tiered chess, and it often feels like as a parent you are relegated to the role of pawn. To exacerbate matters, right now it feels like I’m in check on all three boards and all that’s left are pawns.
There is one subject I have been meaning to write about for a while, but have never been able to find the courage or the right words to tackle it, and that is racial inequality. Having two children in a school as diverse as Tusculum Elementary School for the last three years has really been an education for me about how race and poverty still color our world. We like to say that we’ve entered a post-racial world, but nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that whether we are willing to admit it or not, racism shapes our perceptions on a daily basis. We make assumptions about people’s intentions, expectations, and motivations based on the color of their skin while we try to tell our peers that we don’t see color.
As a middle-aged white male, I have struggled with talking about race. Lord knows there has already been enough written about the subject from the viewpoint of a white male. I wrestle often with my own thoughts on the subject, trying to evaluate the depths of my own bias until I came to the realization that it’s not mine to evaluate. Everyday I try to live the best I can and treat people as equally as I am capable of doing. If some of my actions strike others as racially motivated, all I can do is honestly listen, evaluate, and if possible, make adjustments.