Editorial by Howard Eagle
Are we paying attention? Predominantly Black, mainly urban school districts across this thoroughly racist, white-supremacist-based nation-state are shutting down again (due to covid). As it relates to the crystal-clear, racial divide regarding in-person, as opposed to virtual learning, someone asked what is the solution? The answer is ALWAYS the same — agitate, educate, and organize.
If so-called educators actually “loved” urban children the way many of them claim they do, they would be leading the charge, relative to demanding that local, state, and federal governments do whatever is necessary to help make conditions safe in overwhelmingly, predominantly Black school districts, as is the case in overwhelmingly, predominantly white ones (not only in Monroe County and New York State, but again, throughout this thoroughly racist, white-supremacist-based nation-state, in every direction, — North, East, South, and West). The dichotomous, racial pattern is the same throughout the nation.
Of course the problem is historic and systemic in nature. That is to say, the fact that the where-with-all to ensure that conditions within predominantly lily-white school districts are safe for in-person learning — while the exact opposite is true within predominantly Black ones — is NOT some great big coincidence. Nor is it natural, or some sort of freak of nature. Instead, it is the cumulative result of intentional, white-supremacist-based socioeconomic, sociopolitical, and sociocultural engineering (via policies, practices, procedures, rules, regulations and laws that guide and govern the INSTITUTION OF PUBLIC EDUCATION — literally for centuries).
The general public, especially the white public, is too damn brainwashed, or in many cases, too racist, and/or ignorant, or in some cases, pretending to be ignorant — to realize this. So, on and on we go with the continued deep-seated, thoroughly racist status-quo (with, in many cases, racists and/or neo-slavish Black folks running around TALKING about they are doing everything they possibly can — while continuing to collect big paychecks (in the process of upholding, perpetuating, and reinforcing the ongoing, deeply entrenched, systematic, thoroughly racist status-quo via specific actions and/or inactions).
Just imagine what local, state and federal responses would be if the conditions that exist in predominantly Black school districts existed in lily-white ones. The reason why we are not seeing extreme responses for extreme conditions is precisely because of the deafening silence and lack of agitation, and organization — period.
To say that lily-white school districts are ‘just more prepared’ is one of the grossest understatements of the decade. This really is not all that hard to understand. When people intentionally keep presenting problems and issues as if they are so daunting and so complex that they can’t be understood, then they will NEVER get solved, unless the fires are burning.
Howard Eagle is a longtime educator and local anti-racism advocate, known for his campaigns for the Rochester school board and prolific political and social commentary. Eagle taught social studies in the RCSD for 23 years, before retiring in 2010, and is now an adjunct professor in the Department of African American Studies at SUNY Brockport.