Yesterday was a very dark day in America, but I have to be honest that I’m more concerned about the grey days. The grey days are the days when people upholding white supremacy don’t tell us where to meet them but show up in a million subtle and covert ways. I’ve seen many grey days, particularly since I started working around “ed-reformers”. And I don’t have any reason to believe that tomorrow will not just be another grey day despite so many of them tweeting and posting their denouncement yesterday of the events in Charlottesville. Tomorrow will just be another day of:
- Schools and organizations taking money in the name of improving the lives of black and brown kids but saying that black and brown candidates aren’t the right culture fit.
- Senior leadership team meetings with more white people than black people, while the most junior positions are held by the black and brown staff.
- Slick promotional videos, materials, etc. featuring few black/brown adults, but plenty of those cute black/brown kids.
- Organizations saying they want to hire more black/brown staff, particularly at the senior levels, but not doing so because the black/brown candidates don’t have the track record of success they’re looking for (Ifeyinwa ‘Ify’ Offor Walker rightly wonders where this obsession with this success track record comes from when the existing system is “designed to achieve massive levels of failure for black and brown kids”).
- My black and brown entrepreneur colleagues hoping they can get selected for “diversity funds” since they’ve been turned down for all of the mainstream funds.
- My black and brown colleagues coming home from a full day of work, exhausted from having to withhold their true feelings because when they do try to express themselves they get talked over, labeled angry, told that’s not aligned with the data, or otherwise disregarded because they didn’t come from the elite fellowships and programs that their colleagues who just got into this education “game” got into.
- Black and brown people being asked to lead the DEI work in their organization while white staff aren’t held accountable for doing their own work to understand why systemic oppression has created the racial equity gap we have today (if I hear one more person tell me they’ve been meaning to watch 13TH, but it’s just so sad…).
- Black and brown people being pigeon-holed into career paths that white leaders think they’ll be good in with no regard for what black and brown people want to be doing or where they can have the decision-making power to bring into the world what they want.
- Ideas from black and brown colleagues being shot down, or black and brown colleagues not even being willing to share their ideas, because black and brown people are used to being told all the reasons their idea won’t work while white colleagues with half-baked plans get coaching, training, and support to develop their ideas.
It’s not everyday that white supremacists come after you with tiki torches or drive through a rally opposing injustice. But it is everyday that white people can do more to stop supporting white supremacy and the white patriarchy. I sometimes wish some of my white progressive, liberal colleagues would stop trying to organize and march and just adjust the little things they perpetuate in everyday life that collectively make it okay for people who call themselves white supremacists to commit the acts they did in Charlottesville yesterday. There’s no time like today.