When my son was in 5th grade, the class performed a play at school. What started out as a cute idea, spiraled into me being horrified. I sent an email to school administration regarding what I felt was culturally inappropriate and insensitive. I never received a response.
My younger son graduates from that school as my older son is in high school. The first semester of 9th grade PE class, my son was introduced to the square dancing unit that was 6 weeks long. Upon doing some research on the topic, my son found out that square dancing has roots in white supremacy. He sends a “Tip 203” (school complaint reporting system) to the district. Some school official calls him down to the office to discuss what he had reported. My son explained his findings and said he felt it would be more appropriate to diversify the unit with other cultures dancing. They basically patted his head and sent him along his way.
Look over any materials used in public education and you are going to find very Eurocentric, white/colonizer point of views on history. Kids are not taught that this -white view- is the right way but it’s not paired with ENOUGH of the other point of view for balance. Couple that with the cultural insensitivity we see IN ACTION through curriculum and you’re going to end up with what’s happening not only at Naperville Central, but also across Illinois.
The issue isn’t just in our public schools, the colonizer view is so ingrained in our society that it even presents itself at our national parks.
Something tells me that the Coahuiltecans might have a different view on this. I took this picture found at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park this year, 2019.
Instead of seeing people trying to educate themselves on these topics, I often hear
“Slavery was so long ago, people should just get over it and move on”
Not so fast on that. Science is finding that trauma may be passed down through changes in DNA. That means that slave -from so long ago- that had a horrific life may now have ancestors living in our 20th century carrying this trauma as well as all the other trauma’s that’s held in their lineage.
And how do we -mostly- white people treat this minority and vulnerable populations? With more insults, assaults, bad jokes, and voting into positions of power those who do not have their best interests at the forefront.
Yes, Naperville has racism, the United States of America has racism, I am racist and filled with implicit bias that I work on daily.
Admitting it is the first step. Knowing is not a weakness, it’s a strength because once you know where to start to change, you can.
There are fortunately many things you can do to start.
Find those minority voices in your community, listen to them, and most importantly ACT with their interests in mind. Read books from other point of views than the white Euro one. Visit museums that are run by those it represents.
Teach your kids it’s not good enough to not be racist. They must call out racism around them by also calling out friends who say racist sayings, jokes, and stories. Teach them to stand up to anyone no matter what- even if they’re in a position of power. Especially if they’re in a position of power supporting racism practices.
When people of color ask for support. Act on that.
And whatever you do, don’t stop the fight.