Brave New Films has a short pithy film out — Racism is Real — that explores some of the many statistics available concerning structural and systemic racism. This three minute film documents why we need to continue to work on civil rights enforcement — many of the laws currently on the books in MN, for instance, are not being enforced. And charter schools, to give one example in MN, are exempt from civil rights laws. The credits at the end of the film reference the various studies.
UPDATE: The Washington Post has chimed in to affirm this piece, and more than 10 million people have viewed it as of today.
In the wake of the profound despair and rage that continues to build this year, please let’s learn from each other. Here is a very useful list of ways to “maintain a predominately white institution of higher education.” (Heavy on the sarcasm, of course.)
I am impressed — and angered, saddened, frustrated — by how many of these I’ve seen at work in places I love. Check out #’s 5-8:
- Never ask the black and brown people who remain part of your institution what it’s actually like to be there.
- Never ask black or brown students what it’s actually like.
- Instead of number 4 or 5, whenever you do talk to a black or brown person at your institution smile really big (this shows you are one of the good ones). Do most of the talking. Be sure to return to rule number 1 (see above) while speaking to that person. Chuckle often.
- If you accidentally violate number 5, make sure you ask students this question in the most alienating environment possible; preferably when they are presenting as part of some committee meeting (about “diversity,” of course). Make sure they are number 4 or lower on the agenda for that meeting, and are given no more than 5 minutes to bear their souls to people they have never met before and have no good reason to believe (based on all evidence around them) are in their corner, will have their backs or care about their actual day-to-day experiences. (Never chalk their assessment of this reality up to their wisdom, well-developed critical thinking skills or just plain sanity; assume they just don’t appreciate what it takes to run an institution on a day-to-day basis. Change after all is slow. DECADES slow.)
Jay Smooth and the good folks at RaceForward have released a set of very short videos that explore different elements of systemic racism using statistics. As one example, here’s their video on the wealth gap:
Each one is a great “think about that” moment — why not open a class with one?
The NYTimes has done us all a good service by putting together some very useful graphics to explain the demographic statistics that accompany the tragedy of mass incarceration in the US.
This is an excellent and brief description of what’s wrong with cultural appropriation (as opposed to cultural exchange):
Schools are starting to respond to the Open Letter. Here is a response from PCUSA seminary presidents, and one from the ELCA seminaries. Also, here is an even earlier response from Dr. Michael Jinkins, president of Louisville Presbyterian Seminary.
African American Presidents and Deans in theological education in the US have just issued an open letter addressed to Presidents and Deans in theological education more generally in the US. Please take some time to read and reflect upon it.
(A full list of the authors is at the bottom of the letter found at that link.)
The Color of Fear is a powerful film created in 1994 around a set of discussions with a diverse group of men around issues of race. It’s a film that definitely requires thoughtful engagement and trained facilitation to use, but has been transformative in multiple contexts. Stir Fry Seminars (who created it), also publishes a guide to using it.
Here’s a great reminder of ways and means for being a white ally in the work of dismantling racism.