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Racism Is Killing the Planet… and the Schools

June 16, 2020

The first five words of the “Headline” of this post are the title of Hop Hopkins’ recent Sierra Club article, one that makes a compelling– if not ironclad— case that racial justice and climate justice are inextricably intertwined. After making his case, Mr. Hopkins concludes his essay with this:

I know that what I’ve laid out here is a lot of dots to connect. I can imagine you thinking, “OK, so how do we end white supremacy then?”

I wish I had all the answers, but I don’t. The answer is for all of us to figure out together.

All I know is that if climate change and environmental injustice are the result of a society that values some lives and not others, then none of us are safe from pollution until all of us are safe from pollution. Dirty air doesn’t stop at the county line, and carbon pollution doesn’t respect national borders. As long as we keep letting the polluters sacrifice Black and brown communities, we can’t protect our shared global climate….

And now I ask you, What will you bring yourself to do?

My response to the question is this: I will do everything possible to end the economic injustice that underlies the separation of students based on borders and do everything possible to examine my own complicity in reinforcing the plundering of the planet and the white supremacy that enables that plundering. Schooling during the pandemic illustrates how economic injustice plays into schooling. One of the by-products of the recent switch to online learning is that my grandchildren in Brooklyn had the same opportunities to learn as my grandchildren in rural Vermont. But their experiences were comparable only because their parents live in homes that have internet access and their parents have the right kinds of technology available to them. None of my grandchildren needed to learn how to use a laptop or lacked the savvy to apply what they already knew to navigate Zoom or other online software. Kids whose use of technology was limited to playing games on their parents cell phones, though, had a much steeper learning curve when schools went online. And here’s what we learned from the pandemic that many educators already knew: roughly 15% of the students had NO access at all! And who were those children? Children raised in poverty… and in the city many of those were black and brown children.

Technology based schooling is being sold as a means of erasing the artificial boundaries that currently separate children in, say, the Bronx from the children in Bronxville. In the Promise Land of Bill Gates every child would have the same access to software and would, therefore, have the same learning opportunities and, therefore, the economic and racial disparities would miraculously disappear. As Mr. Hopkins’ article emphasizes, it will take far more than access to technology to change the hearts and culture that promotes the pillaging of the planet at the expense of certain groups of human beings.

Source: Racism Is Killing the Planet

Categories: Uncategorized
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