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Sat Feb 2, 2019, 06:52 PM

Racism is in every fiber of the very fabric we use to mask it.

On Well-Intended White Folks: Thoughts on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and the Making of a Public Image

Christopher Emdin
Today 3:24pmFiled to: RALPH NORTHAM


Today, as everyone indicts the governor for his racism and everyone professes to stew in anger at how he has let down his constituents, I am most disturbed by the ways that we allow folks to construct progressive public personas that are allowed to mask a problematic past even as the country endorses the past and the masking. WE have allowed people to use buzzwords like equity and social justice to mask their racism. WE have allowed sitting next to the right people or hanging the right painting to erase things they have done that cause pain. WE have failed to allow folks to face their history and the part they play in what they profess to fight against. It is easy to advocate for something without acknowledging that you are part of what caused it. It is easy for the governor to denounce the hatred in Charlottesville without acknowledging that he is a branch of the tree that the hate there grew from.

Today, the unearthing of that abhorrent picture from the governorís yearbook leads every black constituent to be framed as the Jim Crow image in the photo. It brings black folks in Virginia and beyond to feel the terror of being led by a Klansmen. Black folks will always question if this is how the governor sees them. They will never know who is leading them. Is it the local boy who learned from desegregation or the man who hates black people?

When a curated progressive persona reveals itself to be a new iteration of the same old racism, it hurts. It takes the wind out of the sails of black folks who thought they were headed to a promised land of equity and freedom with the support of an ally.

To the education community, this is why we focus on anti-racist teaching and the need for teachers to confront their past and present biases when working with communities of color. In moments like these, I become more keenly aware of the racism that is being masked by carefully curated words. I grow increasingly more sensitive to disingenuous celebrations of Black History Month by folks who donít see our history without their supremacy. I become more aware that created artifacts that look and sound good (like equity-focused curriculum), when enacted by racist people, only serves to distract from racism and not address it. Most importantly, I am keenly aware that racism has been deposited into the fabric of this country. It is in every fiber of the very fabric we use to mask it. It is woven into portraits of Barbara Rose John, deeply embedded in equity-themed academic standards, present in stories of desegregation and stamped into pedagogies of inclusion. It is worn by those who profess to be our strongest allies and we wonít know it until they reveal themselves or their pasts do.


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Reply Racism is in every fiber of the very fabric we use to mask it. (Original post)
kpete Feb 2019 OP
guillaumeb Feb 2019 #1

Response to kpete (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2019, 06:57 PM

1. Recommended.

Public face versus private face.

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