Quick overview

All posts still in progress. If you have additions you want to suggest, please let me know in the comments or on twitter @schomj.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Acknowledging Whiteness, part 4: So Many Questions



Attempts to answer the questions I posed in part 2 of this series, and that Max Macias posed in his own series on whiteness from 2016.
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·         What am I doing to support colleagues who need solidarity?
Listen, signal boost, try not to ask too many annoying questions (I am an endless fountain of questions, so this will always be a work in progress!). Also, contribute funds and time to projects as I can. Position myself to be present and prepared to speak up if needed.
·         What am I doing to understand why intellectual freedom proselytizing might cause colleagues of color to become upset?
I had never put my occasional sense of disgruntlement about intellectual or academic freedom into words until I started reading nina de jesus. But once I started to understand their concerns, I saw justifications for that concern everywhere. The more I looked, the more I realized that political actions both for and against academic/intellectual freedom are more likely to harm people of color. The arguments themselves can be used in proxy fights to maintain white supremacy. This isn’t to say that IF is bad – or good. It’s too complicated for that kind of simplistic language. Being aware of context and how IF arguments are being framed and utilized is important. I am still learning how to be both critical and sensitive in my understanding of these topics, and often find myself relying on the good judgment of librarians of color to deepen my understanding. (And no, librarians of color don’t always agree on everything – they’re individual humans – but sometimes paying attention to discussions without interfering can be really informative.)
·         What am I doing to understand why indigenous people might not want their intellectual property put in the commons?
Following First Nations/Native American people on twitter makes me aware of how damaging cultural appropriate can be. Reading about the history of indigenous peoples in the Americas has made me more aware of everything that has been stolen from indigenous people. Educating myself is encouraging me to listen more and unlearn my settler-colonial conditioning.
·         What am I doing to make space in the center for people of color?
Paying attention to signs that POC aren’t being heard and trying to signal boost and otherwise support their work. Also really, really trying to be aware that making this space means stepping back and trying to get other white people to step back, not shoving POC unwillingly into the center of a space that won’t be safe.
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From Max’s post, Embedded Whiteness.
·         How do you see Whiteness relating to Education?
It’s the default.
·         Can you think of some examples of Whiteness in Education that you have seen?
Standard white English being taught as the only acceptable form of English, students who are fluent in AAVE being told that they are speaking “slang” i.e., a substandard version of English. Which is both untrue and damaging. Students whose home languages aren’t English being punished for speaking those languages in schools, but (white) native English speakers being rewarded for learning Spanish.
·         How can we mitigate Whiteness in Education?
Recognize Whiteness and remove it from the position of unacknowledged default.
·         Should we mitigate Whiteness in Education?
As a step towards decentralizing and undoing Whiteness in education, yes.
·         How does Whiteness impact Educational Technology?
Interesting question. I’m not sure that I have an answer. I know that ableism impacts EdTech. Maybe expectations that everyone can afford home internet and other technologies disenfranchises POC, who are statistically more likely to be lower income than White people? (Talking averages here, not everyone.)
·         Does Whiteness come in between the truth and investigators?
Unacknowledged Whiteness means unacknowledged bias. So, yes.
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How would you answer these questions? What questions would you add?

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