Saturday, September 18, 2021

"Good" Schools

When/if white people become aware of the role of racism in this country, one of the last things we are able to give up is our unexamined belief that we (or our other white friends and relatives) need to send our kids to "good schools" or we need to live in "good neighborhoods" or "good towns" that have "good schools."

I was reminded of this today in a Twitter thread by Josh Michtom, who is a public defender and city councilor in Hartford, Conn. He wrote:

I feel sort of sorry for middle class, college-educated white people who really think they have to take on housing costs at the margin of what they can afford and commutes at the margin of what they can tolerate because their kids need white schools to succeed.

You might say, "Why feel sorry for people who are suffering because of their own racism?" THAT IS A GOOD QUESTION. Part of it is that the "good schools" discussion is a fundamentally racist discussion that has been so normalized and cleaned up that it is hard for people without knowledge and experience to see that the advice they are hearing from all quarters is actually baseless propaganda for segregation. Left-wing white people with social justice jobs say, "We moved to [Town] for the schools," and don't even feel bad about it.

If you are a young, middle-class white couple looking to buy a house, probably no one you talk to (most of them middle-class white people) is going to say, "Well, the best predictor of academic success is parental income and parental level of education, so skip the suburbs."

Of course, part of this is not just bad information, but actual racism. White people look at a house on a Black block and they probably have no life experience being the one white person in a Black space and they assume it's going to be a hostile environment.

Or they look at a city preschool and worry about the idea of their white child being the only white child, again, assuming without information (and wrongly) that this will bring hostility.

Then, they seek out suburbs that are nominally diverse and feel good about it, and don't think too deeply, if at all, about the fact that someone else's child has to be the only one for them to feel good about it.

There's a podcast about this topic called Nice White Parents, which I have heard just a bit of but haven't listened to fully yet. In addition to five podcasts, that page includes a reading list, additional thoughts from the creators, and a discussion guide.

I have to get back to it soon.


No comments: