Monday, February 10, 2020

Durham teachers organization makes assumptions rooted in white supremacist powerplay

A recent Facebook message questioning the leadership of Alexandra Valladares, candidate for Durham Public School Board, uncovers how white supremacy works.

The implementation of a white supremacist strategy is not limited to the work of white people. Colonialism infuses, in the minds of some Black people, deep-seeded internalized racism. It is easy to find cases where Black and Brown people cooperate with white people in constructing  a white supremacist agenda. 

It's important to get that out before you start looking at the black people in the room.

This is one of those cases. It's an example of how teachers, within a school system with an overwhelming majority of white teachers (78%), refuse to concede the interest and needs of Black and Brown students and their parents. Their statement indicates their advocacy for their own interest as puppets in a white supremacist system.

A strategy of white supremacy is to cancel the leadership of Black and Brown people. It’s done by delegitimizing people for not playing well with white people.

A person who dedicates their life as an advocate for Black and Brown families is questioned for failing to cooperate with people working to maintain the system. White supremacy plays by a set of rules. Collaborating with controlling parties is viewed as a measure of effective leadership. White supremacy attacks people who refuse to succomb to their mandate. It punishes people for not doing what they want, how they want and when they want it done.

Advocates are called lone rangers. They are labeled ineffective because they function outside the established system. Their personality becomes the subject of disdain. They’re called a scalawag for their consistent focus on the problem versus a willingness to compromise within the existing system.
White supremacy has it's own agenda. It attempts to strip advocates of their integrity by punishing anyone for failing to bow and kiss the ring. The advocacy of Black and Brown students and parents, in the example of the Facebook mischaraterization of Alexandra, takes backseat to bowing down to the whims of an organizations agenda. It is a cruel hypocricy that makes voting for a block of perferred candidates more relevant that advocacy.

White privilege assumes the problem is the person when it’s the system. In this case, the problem is a gang of teachers desirious of manipulating the political process at the expense of Black and Brown children.

Their aim is to credential leaders who affirm their position with limited critique of structures from within. Organizations aren’t established to be examined from within. I call foul play. The power of an endorsement plays out as a weapon margainilizing Black and Brown advocacy. The system is a monster in need of review. All of it. From a gang of teachers dismissive of Black and Brown advocacy, to an endorsement process that makes who a person voted for the purity test. When teachers place politics outside the classromm above the needs of students within the classrom, it's time for those teachers to reconsider what they do for a living.

The attack against Alexandra Valladares is a case study regarding how the quest to maintain white dominance plays out in real time. Reactions divulge the rage of white fragility. We are witnessing how support for diversity and inclusion plays out when conversations shift to the demand for equity.

We’re observing how conversations regarding race shift after racial and cultural competency minimizes the power of white people in Black and Brown spaces. The savior complex is uncovered with massive assumptions and hypocrisy. The matter of representation moves beyond the dynamics of diversity and inclusion to an attack on the character of the Black and Brown people fighting for equitable participation.

This is where the work is attacked. The effort that goes into advocating on behalf of Black & Brown parents and children becomes the subject of contention. All of that work to be heard and understood is translated into a litmus test for credible leadership.

The white person plays by the rules. That person works well with others. That Black or Brown person stands alone. These are massive assumptions rooted and maintained by the constructs of white supremacy. The decision to select and fight for the white person unravels how white supremacy hinders the work of Black and Brown engagement. They say - we can work with him, he’s one of us, he understands us, he plays by our rules.

White supremacy seeks to own the terms of legitimacy. Rather than conceding a need to listen and learn from advocates, people leading the work are challenged for questioning disparity.

The assumptions that follow are preposterous. Given the white person works better with the people within the system – that person is better qualified to serve Black and Brown students.  Given the Black person is attacking the system – we have reason to believe the white person is better qualified to work within our system. Given Alexandra isn't working with us, she must be working alone. 
Implying Alexandra is working alone negates all the students and parents she represents. Not working to endorse a white supremacist system is not the same as working alone. Not working with a gang of teachers, and the candidates they decided to endorse, is not a reflection of standing alone. It reflect not standing with them in Alexandra's desire to stand with the students and parents she represents.

Determining who to vote for is a personal decision. Each of us has the right to decide on our own. In reflecting on what that means, it helps to minimize language constructed from a white supremacist agenda. I’m not blaming people for not understanding. Not knowing is one of the consequences of centuries of institutionalized racism.

I do question people who continue using language rooted in white supremacist powerplay after hearing why that’s not okay. I also blame teachers for using their role as teachers to play political games at the expense of Black and Brown children.
Shame on all of you!

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