Racism In Our Education System Must Be Torn Down. Here’s How You Can Demand It.


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By Ileana Rodríguez

June 4, 2020

With 1 in 3 public school students projected to be Hispanic in the near future, Latino parents and leaders must demand an anti-racist education for all.

The classrooms our children attempt to learn in, across America, are racist. They are racist because in them students of color are learning less and achieving less than their white counterparts. In Michigan, the federal court recently agreed that the gaps in access to basic education were so vast that the mostly Black students in Detroit were denied a right to literacy.

In our classrooms, students of color are four times more likely to be subjected to harsh disciplinary measures and suspended than white students. Even in the larger education complex, knowing that low-income and Latino students are less likely to have access to technology and internet, powerful education organizations like The College Board proceeded to administer the AP exams exclusively online. This puts Latino and Black students in a disadvantaged position, as many are struggling with distance learning during this pandemic.

RELATED: Digital Divide Puts Latino AP Students at Major Disadvantage

What Is Anti-Racist Education?

Anti-racist education is the active identification and fixing of racist structures and practices embedded in the education system. We must demand anti-racist education for our children if we are to see a future where the horrific and tragic death of George Floyd is impossible to imagine.

The death of Mr. George Floyd in Minnesota at the knee of a police officer is the drop that spilled the cup of police brutality in which the Black community has been drowning since the origins of this country. 

RELATED: This Is How You Can Help Demand Justice for George Floyd and Others Like Him

While darker-skinned Latinos may experience more racism than lighter-skinned ones, we have failed to rise up as a Latino community and be of one voice with the Black one. We have shown a collective lack of understanding and connection with the impact the legacy of slavery and structural racism has on shaping what America is today. It also reveals the collective shame and ambivalence with our colonized and mixed racial ancestry.

RELATED: Latinos Could Save this Country. But First, We Must Conquer Our Racism Against Black Americans.

The fact that more than two-thirds of Puerto Ricans identified as white in the 2010 Census is both absurd and the clearest illustration of Latino racial confusion. If we don’t know who we are, racially, how can we possibly show up for the Black community with conviction?

Latinos are far from a monolithic group, and we tend to have our first allegiance to our home country and culture. This connection to another place is perhaps the one thing that binds us. This makes us prone to believe the white-washed version of American history as we cling to the American dream.

It is imperative for the Latino community to play a critical role in reshaping the educational opportunities for low-income and kids of color in America. By 2027, 1 in 3 students in public schools in the U.S. will be Hispanic. These numbers give us the power that we must harness as parents, community leaders, and advocates.

RELATED: Last Week’s Protests Are About More Than George Floyd’s Death. The Data Shows It.

More Anti-Racist Teachers, Please

Most teachers in the U.S. are white. Anti-racist teachers are those who consistently challenge themselves to identify how their classrooms and lessons sustain racial discrimination. An anti-racist teacher can see how she holds fewer expectations for her kids of color than for white kids and an anti-racist school would support her to fix this.

An anti-racist classroom not only celebrates history and heritage months, but is filled with resources and experiences that reflect that children are bright, whole, and good every single day. In anti-racist classrooms, students are exposed to the truth of our history. Latino students would have the opportunity to see Christopher Columbus as the genocidal sailor that he was and would have the opportunity to process where their lighter skin comes from and what it means to benefit from its privilege.

An anti-racist school owns the fact that the race-based achievement gaps among their kids are the result of the education that is being offered within their walls. Anti-racist schools are not named after figures of the Confederacy, people whose only mission was to maintain slavery. Yet there are still approximately 100 schools in the US named after these racist figures.

Our kids need not only to read and do math; they need to know themselves. They need the truth about history, including the truth about the deep-rooted racism that is embedded in all the systems we navigate in the U.S. society. 

A future of racial justice must be built from within, through the education of our children. Let our children grow up fully aware of the role that race plays in our society and the history that has made this possible so they are in turn able to build a new world where racism and civic unrest are things of the past.


CATEGORIES: Education | Latinos | OPINION


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