Singleton and Linton present a letter from an Asian parent in which she recounts being told (during a discussion of a hiring decision), “Racism is a big problem; it’s a global problem. I resent you for trying to make it my problem.” The parent interpreted this to mean that the speaker thought that racism is other people’s problem – specifically, people of color.

There are details that are missing that would be helpful. The speaker of the line seems to be in some kind of position of power. The parent says of her – “she was in a position to help the cause of people of color.” Is it the Principal?

I guess I take the quotation a bit differently. The person, struggling to find the right teacher for a position, has a priority – hire the best teacher. The parent has another – hire a person of color. Of course, these two agendas overlap. I imagine the Principal might resent the implication her first responsibility was to address racism in some way. The parent put some pressure on her with a false dichotomy. Either you hire the candidate of color, she is essentially saying, or you are not helping people of color. Well, the Principal’s job, primarily, is to help students. One hiring decision can help (or harm), but to take it out of the narrow realm and into the societal one, well, that may have caused the person’s comment. I take it to mean – “Solving racism is beyond just me.”

Also of note is that the race of the speaker of the line is not included. Does it matter? Does its absence matter?

Racism is everyone’s problem. Some of us have the luxury of not encountering it every day. But it still impacts us – morally, socially, economically, politically. But if I, as a representative white person (and a male, at that!) am doing fine given the current conditions, what is my motivation to trying to begin to address questions of racism? I guess it would have to rest on morality. Then it would depend on whether I was open to being persuaded.

I do believe we are all interconnected. It has taken me a while to understand how and why that it’s important. In Cuba (a recent trip), we saw plenty of evidence of community (though of course we see only what we are allowed to see). What’s the nature of community here? Geography?

Advertisements