Why adopting the views of Robin DiAngelo will make it harder to improve our public schools | Listen now
I love the term "cosmetic diversity" that Irizzary used. I listened to the entire, painful meeting. I was amazed by how White diversity trainer and White Fragility author Robyn DiAngelo took up so much space at the meeting, despite not being there. Several of the board members seemed more concerned with adhering to White Fragility speak than having an honest conversation about steps to take to improve the educational experience for their diverse population. Robin, was certainly more concerned with appearing antiracist and following the DiAngelo script than actually talking about the education of children. When she apologized to Irizzary she didn't appear to take to heart what Irizzary was actually saying. It seemed like a "cosmetic" apology.
I've listened to Mr. Irizarriys impassioned and impressive speech a few times. One sentence in particular stuck out to me.
"You’re comfortable in your unbridled capitalist world, and you don’t want to teach latinos and blacks fractions and decimals and how not to get ensnared in mortgages that are adjustable rate."
It might sound excessive but I felt tears begin to come to my eyes when I heard him say that, and it really crystallizes what's at stake here. Should public schools teach kids, *all* kids whether "gifted" or not, the valuable skills that will help them succeed and make them less vulnerable to smooth talking mortgage lenders with smiling faces, ten dollar words, and incomprehensible contracts? Or should public schools mire children race essentialist rhetoric which is *designed* to make them anxious and feel like they're doomed to fail (and if they *don't* fail like they're doing something wrong)?
I would like to ask Mr. Irrizary (and anyone else with any knowledge) how he/they feels about the science and math pedagogy in his/their public school system. I bring this up because I have strongly suspected for a while now that science and math pedagogy, *especially* for younger students, is still stuck in the dark ages of lists of problems and incomprehensible equations, full of symbols that have *no explanation,* taught in a way that a grown adult would have trouble paying attention to let alone a young person.
I strongly feel terrible pedagogy, in particular for science and math, is one of the most insidious forms of classist gatekeeping that there is. I think that YouTube, Khan Academy, and places like Brilliant.com are showing us incontrovertibly that there are better ways, *gameified* ways of teaching people these essential subjects. But I'm childless and have zero practical experience with the modern public school system, so I'd like to get other's take on this.
The thing that bothered me most was the hypocrisy. The men being attacked were, from what I could tell, the only people who were leading truly diverse lives. And yet the others felt like they had the higher ground because they'd read a book. I've since seen a video in which Tom's Black friend tells the board that they had no right to tell her how she should feel about her friend bouncing her nephew on his knee. (Are we allowed to say FFS on here? I understand if it's too close to starting down the ad hominem road).
Thanks for introducing us to Edward.
One thing that's interesting about the accusation that Edward isn't a real voice because he's not towing the line, is the fact that there are actual token voices out there that give this accusation an air of legitimacy. For example, someone like Candace Owens has no original thoughts. She just spews whatever far right talking points she's given. She even at one point mused that Hitler would have been fine if he just focused on Germany rather than persuing his agenda globally. She truly is just a token black female voice for the far right. Her existence makes it easier to target and person of color and invalidate their views as "token." Candace Owens and people like her are probably even more useful to far left populists than she is to far right ones.
Not only do they not want blacks and Latinos to be taught fractions and decimals, I wonder if these woke white activists born into 2nd and 3rd generation wealth want to really bother with the hard work of learning themselves. This lady couldn't even articulate the argument in the White Fragility book she was trying to make. She doesn't need to worry about getting stuck in an adjustable rate mortgage, her daddy's accountant would make sure of that. What could be more threatening to such a person than a poor person of color who really wants to learn? The emotions that would evoke would probably be similar to the ones of the dog walker in New York that called the cops on the bird watcher she felt "threatened" by.
A bit of feedback: I got completely lost in the intricacies of the New York public school system, so I think a lot of the point of the podcast went over my head. Are these neighborhood schools? What is a stream school, or was it screen school? What are these entrance exams? Additionally, I don’t think the podcast addressed the title - why did that woman freak out about the white man and the brown baby?
Mr. Irrizary‘s impassioned speech was heartbreaking in a lot of ways. Having clawed his way to where he is, his struggles are now invisible and are being overshadowed by yet another privileged white person making the conversation all about her. “I’m getting pressure for not being enough of an advocate...and that hurts me...”.
Still, I can’t help but think that the biggest indicator that all reason has been lost is that the contretemps appears to have been ignited by someone holding a child. During a meeting about the education of children. Kind of missing the point there.
I’ll say something that is probably unpopular. There was way too much living in the past going on in that room. Neither Mr. Irrizary’s painful experience nor Ms. Broshi’s manufactured angst about the last 40 years is really the point. The presence of that child and all of his potentiality should have kept everyone focused firmly on the present educational challenges and the future world those children will create.
I have not read “White Fragility,” though I had been planning on doing so until I read an interview of Ms. DiAngelo. It strikes me as incredibly sinister BS. Much to say, and I am sure it has all been said here, but bottom line, I suspect its purpose is to enable people of color by disabling white people with shame. We are supposed to understand ourselves above all as being crippled by our “whiteness”—marked through and through by “white culture” (?)—a view placing one’s race above all, as Dylan Roof does. (I consider his first mistake was to place supreme importance on his own “whiteness,” rather than seeing himself as an individual human among humans, each of whom is equal in value). I will stop there, except to say that Ms. Di Angelo is one of the reasons I am here.—Michelle
Great conversation, thank you.
The point around shifting people's focus towards wall papering over real issues - i.e. poor education of important skills that can help lower income children succeed - with "anti-racism" programs and policies concerns me greatly. But it also resonates with me, and I think it could resonate with a large voter base, and I also think this critique has not been properly and strongly leveled against the "anti-racist" segregationists. It's an opening, and we need to exploit it to the full extent - for those low income children and families.
Two thoughts here
We've spent years placing people in buckets, if I may, a "minority" bucket, a "normal" bucket, a "disadvantaged" bucket, a "special ed" bucket etc, etc. the system as designed, only works if you keep those buckets in place and keep them full. The money to keep schools systems afloat, depend on those buckets to get government funding, local, state and federal funds are all determined by those "buckets" and the apparent success rate of the system. If you fall into one of those buckets it will take extreme luck and a lot of hard work to get out of it. you have been classified by the system and future choices are limited. I was put in a bucket, just based on the success or lack of, of my two older siblings. It took beating my grade 10 teachers at chess and taking over the chess club to change that.
Another thought that Izzarry touched on reminded me of something I wrote a few weeks back on another forum, "we spent 50 years teaching "tolerance" with almost nothing to show for it. It is such a low bar. Maybe the time would have been better spent teaching respect."
change the dynamic, set a new goal and stop with programs that continue to separate us.
Great talk! Can't wait for more