Sometimes Privilege Creates Ignorance
The other day my partner’s kids made some ridiculous comment about something I read in the newspaper at breakfast after asking a bunch of ridiculous questions that showed their lack of concern or connection with the rest of the world. Their first question was why would I read the “dirty” newspaper in the diner instead of looking at my phone.
Trying not to give these upper-middle-class children the WTH face, I explained to them reading the local county newspaper was the best way to learn about what was going on throughout the entire community, not YouTube or Google News.
The Negative Impact of Race-Based College Admissions
After sitting down with my free (my favorite price) strewn diner newspapers, I read them, tuning out the little privileged peeps as they scrolled their cellphones for memes, videos, etc. to entertain themselves. My partner picked up a piece of the newspaper which contained a story about a Texas Tech’s Medical School being forced by the U.S. Department of Education to remove race from their admissions application, which is a huge deal if you’re a supporter of affirmative action.
The story was a big deal for me because for 10-years my ex-husband’s employer (a White doctor) expected me to help him recruit more Black students into their predominantly White top-ranked Family Medicine Residency program if we could snag them. White faculty doctors always found something wrong with most of the Black and Brown students coming through the rotations. The first thing that was always the problem was the education. If aspiring residents went to HBCUs, doctors considered their education inferior, not good enough, etc. Then there were the other excuses used to filter out students by race outside of test scores and recommendations. Most times, the institution played a huge role on deciding whether to accept students.
A medical college’s admissions criteria and policies determine how many candidates of color are accepted. It’s a reality most people don’t even think about.
One reason there are so few Black doctors is because we’re filtered out during the admissions process by race. There are a lot of ways for someone to discriminate against a student based on race without asking directly. I know this because I’ve worked in college admissions assisting with recruiting, admissions, and financial aid. Removing the question from an admissions application will not stop discrimination and filtering from happening.
I know what really happens, and I know how the people deciding regarding admissions. We were talking about how race is used in the college admissions process, especially in medical schools, in a raw manner.
Like clockwork, my partner’s children (who are to be Black with a dash of their Haitian pappy) who attend all White upper-middle-class schools live in their all upper-middle class White community, with the all upper-middle White and White passing Jewish and Cuban friends and schoolmates had a problem with us talking about racism in such a manner. It was clear their parents have sold unicorns and rainbows to the children about what life is like being a Black person. They talk about issues of race with family, friends, colleagues, but not their children. It’s setting them up to fail I feel.
When Being Young and Smart Goes Wrong
One child had the audacity to tell me I was being negative, and that White people aren’t the way I was describing them. The youngest of the bunch put the last nail in his coffin by asking me why I always talked about negative stuff.
I told that kid what god loved as we say down South. He got some truth bombs, Marley K style.
First, I put him into back a child’s place, telling him I had the right to talk about whatever I wanted to in the same manner he had the right to play with his Pokemon cards, play whatever video games he likes to play that I feel are stupid but I say nothing about, or talk about girls with his friends in private on the school bus. I told him he needed to stay in a child’s place and not get into adult conversations, especially when his twelve-year-old butt knows nothing outside of what he could learn in school (when paying attention), what he learns from parents, or googling (god help us).
Next, I told him the topic the adults were discussing was an important subject, and instead of being caught up in my talking about Whiteness and defending his White friends, he should be quiet and listen to how his White and White passing friends will eventually benefit from the filtering of Black students also known as White privilege. I told the kid he has selectively picked out what he wanted to hear, as if what I was saying wasn’t true. To close, I noted he has absolutely no real-life world experience, and he should refrain from making ignorant statements without understanding a subject in its totality. I explained racial profiling is real and isn’t limited to community policing.
By then, the tears were streaming, and I didn’t care. Sometimes your feelings need to be hurt to get the lesson.
Lastly, I told him it was nice of him to think about White people and Whiteness in a manner where they needed his rescuing. I informed him it does not. They do just fine protecting themselves, and keeping you down as a person of color, which was what this article was all about. I told him to continue to be a good person and care about people, regardless of their color, but understand racism is real and so is discrimination. I told him he should learn to join and fight battles after learning all the facts. I noted picking the wrong fights could get his little ass kicked a lot in life and his little feeling hurt like they are right now. I asked if he understood. He nodded yes. I said “good talk”, then went back to reading my story.
Darn kids today. Sheesh.
That silenced the kid for a little while until I started watching the news showing on the diner’s television, and I mentioned the situation in Venezuela (we live in FL with a huge wealthy Venezuelan immigrant population), noting it seems to be another sign the world is on fire.
These “privileged” children again put their two cents into my conversation telling me everything was fine, and that I was just being “extra.” So, when we finished breakfast, I cut our day out frolicking short to teach the little smart asses an invaluable lesson.
The Teachable Moment
We came back to my partner’s house, where I took all the cellphones for the next few hours because clearly these kids aren’t learning about many current events in the world at school. I sat them all on the sofa, turned the television to Al Jazeera for an hour, and BBC for another hour. They couldn’t move, they had to take notes, and they would write a two paragraph essay about something they learned they didn’t know about. I also charged them all with finding the connection to America.
They spent the next few hours doing research online, with my guidance.
The kids learned the Black and Brown world globally really is on fire, and American schools, our media, parents aren’t talking about it. The also learned the UK, France, America, and other European areas are not doing so hot either. We’re not teaching our kids about it. They learned they don’t know everything (hardly anything), and they learned how foolish they sounded inquiring about someone’s interests in knowing what’s happening around the globe.
The kids also learned why it’s so important that they know. Raising global citizens to be nationally focused is a disaster. We talked about poverty, and how corporations, politician greed, corruption, consumerism and globalism has destroyed the earth and are impediments to a healthy world. People around the world are feeling the impact of greed and bad political policies. They are fighting for their lives.
I then made my interest in global events personal. I explained I have a sister in the military, so I’m always concerned about where our nation engaged in conflicts (wars). My sister fights in those conflicts, those known and those unknown. I shared how I cared about fishermen being kidnapped, held hostage, and cheated out of their wages so American children could have the privilege of eating fish from a package in a store instead of catching them. I care if young girls of color globally are raped on their way to school. I care that greedy, corrupt American companies are selling airplanes to Brown countries without all the instructions and technology to keep them from crashing.
I care the Chinese aren’t exploiting Kenyans and Nigerians and calling the monkeys. I care if people in Venezuela have food, mothers can feed their babies, and whether young folks can find jobs to sustain them. I care about the people of Sudan feeling their government is corrupt and failing them. I care about the Palestinians and Israel. I care about rural communities, and care about Americans. I care about all injustice, inequity, inequality, and lack globally. Not knowing about these issues isn’t an excuse. I need to know how to hurt the world less.
Not knowing is never an excuse. Our ignorance makes things worse.
By the end of the day I received an apology… although it was probably because they learned not to get in grown folks’ business more than anything else.
The World Is On Fire, Most of Us Don’t Know It
We need to teach our young people about the world. America is not the only place in the world that is important. Schools are teaching kids to take and pass tests, and they are still teaching imperialism depending on where your child goes to school. We are all connected, and when one of us suffers we all suffer. When one of us is deprived of our basic needs, we’re all deprived. When one of us is robbed, we’re all robbed. When one of us is hungry, we’re all hungry. When one of can’t get clean water, we all should care.
If fish are dying because the ocean is too hot or because algae blooms are sucking all the oxygen from the ocean, we all should care. If a nuclear reactor are contaminating our waterways, we should care. If people can’t get enough to eat, we all should care. If people need medical and mental health care and can’t afford it, we all should care.
Americans have become so self-absorbed, so willfully ignorant, and so lazy, we’ve failed to see much of the world is on fire. He’ll we’re on fire too. Sadly, we’re not teaching our kids to be global citizens, we’re not teaching them much of anything… regardless of the socioeconomic bracket you fall within. We need to do a better job of educating the next generation. How does a seventh grader having the latest $1k iPhone make the world better? It doesn’t.
It makes our world dumber and distracted, and this is by design.
How in the hell can kids be expected to save the world if they don’t even know the rest of the world exists? They cannot. Teaching young people is so important, we all have a job to do. There is a teachable moment in any and everything if you make it one. Sometimes feelings get hurt, but that’s life. We can change young minds with patience, exposure, a minor correction, and for the most smart-mouthed kids, lots of correction.
Too often we rely on schools to do the jobs parents, grandparents, friends, relatives, and community members should do. Schools can’t teach our children everything, nor do they want to. Don’t dump your job of teaching your kids about the real world onto a public or private school. Besides, who says the teacher will have had your life experiences or he/she has dealt with the same obstacles, challenges, or barriers associated with your community, nation, tribe, race, gender etc. It’s a huge task to create global, informed citizen. It’s not your kids’ smart phone or tablet’s job to do it. That’s lazy.
What kind of children are you sending out into the world? It matters.
The world is on fire, and most people don’t know it. Do you know what going on outside of your small world? If you don’t, neither will your children and grandchildren. Teach your children to be fluent in current events. Our earth is counting on it.
©2019 Marley K. All rights reserved.