This Blog Is No Longer Actively Updated!

Race Has Nothing to Do With You had a strong 7 year run (that's a lot of years), but is hanging up the blogging pen at the end of 2012. The blog will remain up for your extended hypercritical viewing pleasure.

Welcome to Race Has Nothing To Do WIth You

Like most young people, my life is consumed by schools. What I write is a reflection of the educators, students, advocates, parents, and (occasionally) the caring people I am surrounded by. I write so I can survive and challenge the hatred, ignorance, and blatant apathy towards low income people of color. Read on, share what you think, and push on this world to be what we need...

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Friday, December 21, 2012

7 Year Run

Thanks for following the blog, for helping me clarify my thoughts, for staying connected. After seven years of maintaining a public presence with my critical views on the world, my focus is shifting.

Instead of blogging, I will be working on more comprehensive writings, articles, books, and struggling against the continual corporate onslaught of standardized common core scripted one-size-fits-all colonial, racist, sexist, classist, pro-American schooling. Feel free to reach me through comments, email, or through an as-yet-uninvented-medium.

Thanks for lingering,

Christopher B.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Crack mom

After parking my car on the side street next to the school, I saw what I assumed to be a young mother of maybe 20 years dragging her son along the sidewalk. He was struggling to keep up with her, and she was a disheveled mess, hair asunder, heels broken and half off her feet, clothes twisted torn dirty.

I asked her if she needed anything as she rushed passed, and after a 5 minute breakdown in which she cursed storms about her boyfriend for bringing "drags" back into the house, she agreed to let me, a complete stranger, walk her child into the school instead of her drugged stupor-filled self.

I grabbed he son's hand, walked him into the main office, and was immediately greeted by eye-rolled dismissals of both the now-invisible mother and very visibly late child, as staff made their annoyance clear. I ended up walking the 5 year old -who was ridiculously strong and clearly used to drama/mama and couldn't-care-less educator/adults to class, where finally an adult - the teacher- grabbed his hand, hugged him, and swept him into the classroom with caring warmth.

Good morning indeed.

Monday, November 12, 2012

play slap fight

Little children, sixth and seventh graders,
play slap fight in a class for young men
but they are 11 and 12 and 13, and hardly
anything but children
even though their teachers remind them (falsely)
that they are almost grown

while they play slap fight
to a talk-at-you lesson about de-escalating
tense situations.

awkward adult educators

In many urban schools, seemingly random adults come into classrooms without knocking, without introducing themselves and without being introduced by the teacher. I visit several schools a week, and only a small percentage of teachers introduce me, and even when I'm introduced, often the introduction is so quick that students continually look towards me, and when I walk around the room, they ask me who I am, what I am doing there.

Often, in high schools, students ask if I am going to teach the class, complain openly about how terrible their teacher is.

In middle schools, the students usually want to know what I am doing, which university I work at, if I think the teacher is good or not.

In elementary schools, students stare, smilingly, seeking acknolwedgement, hoping to catch a smile.

And when I am introduced well, with a framework for why I am visiting, I become relatively invisible, as student interest goes away ("if he's here to observe and write and stuff, and is a professor, then he must be irrelevant").

But I also see other adults come and go, and very few are introduced. And I think about what this says about student classrooms, about how students do not have any power over who comes into their space, that in reality, students do not have any space at school at all. School is about the adults who work there, or whose job is loosely about the work of schools. Students are just objects, in between power struggles with teachers, principals, districts, excluded communities.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Back from Mississippi

Just back from Mississippi, visiting Alcorn State University, in deep Southern wooded greenery, rural, small house-scattered Lorman, also the oldest public historically black land-grant institution in the United States.

And I decidedly was not called a n**ger lover as I was while in trendy, hip, open-minded, liberal Oakland, CA.

Yes, Mississippi is still deeply segregated and deeply impoverished. But so is Oakland. And I'm just saying, I did not get called that in Mississippi in 2012, but in Oakland, by a White police officer.

Just sayin.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

n**ger lover

On a run this morning, joined for a good 5 blocks by Freddy, a probably mid-50's African American man who said, "hold on son, let me run with you for a few blocks and get back in shape."

I slowed my pace, we jogged together for a bit, chatted, and as we turned the corner near the Acorn projects in Oakland, two police officers (one White, one Latino) stood just inside the fenced-in concrete patio of one of the buildings. They leered at as, and as we ran by, the White officer sneered to me: "n**ger lover."

Freddy immediate turned to him, and I grabbed Freddy by the arm, put myself between him and the fenced-in police, and told him they weren't worth it, there was nothing we could gain, just keep on running. The police just stood there, daring us to do anything, and we were on our way in a few seconds, jogging in the opposite direction, seething, shocked, frustrated, angered.

And what could we do? Report them? To who? How many baton smashes would we have risked to get their badge numbers or names? Which police chief would care? Even if they did care, how effective would the maybe-required diversity workshops be at addressing racism?

The racism isn't what makes me run, is not what makes me push with so much passion; instead the ridiculous denial of all this racism all the time is what drives me. The ridiculous articles and research and reports and task forces and books that all skirt around what Freddy knows all too well: crossing racial lines in his own neighborhood is still basically illegal, still results in violent threats.

Meanwhile, white hipsters continue to gentrify this West Oakland community.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

really does happen

I know we all operate in our isolated bubbles of good folks, but I am continually asked (mostly by White people who do not spend time in urban classrooms, or at least do not "hear" what students say"): "does this really happen?"

What folks really mean is: "are things really that bad?"

Yes "things" are. This district administrator, visiting a school today, happened to visit a classroom in a school I was visiting. I was in another room, meeting with a teacher, and me and the district administrator met in the hallway. She rushed up to me, grabbed my arm, and said, "Oh my gosh! These children cant even speak English! No wonder China is doing better than we are!"). With a huff, she was gone, ran from school as fast as she could.

I poked my head into the class, expecting to hear Spanish, but instead, the class was mostly Black and Pacific Islander students, talking in English to each other. But apparently she's not used to how children (of color) speak.

And so tell me why again she works in an urban district?

Yes, ridiculously obvious racism really does happen. All-The-Time. Her leadership role, based in ignorance, is exactly what shapes urban schools.

Monday, October 29, 2012

adults are older children

If we cannot do not will not model how to engage respectfully with other adults, why would we assume students will listen to teacher-adults telling them to do what the adults do not?

Simple solution, heard in a school today, as a student went off to his teacher for being what he called "all stiff": "Be what you want for us. Dont make us do stupid shit. Dont waste my time cause I really do gotta get to work. And I really do want to learn. Just not from worksheets and boring dry ass assignments. Come on, Mrs. Teacher. Teach us. Or stop fucking teaching."

arrogant whiteness

I should just start deleting the emails immediately. They always start the same, with some bland ass-kissing based on my presumed position (professor) and then a quick-shift into how great the email author is at rallying urban communities through standards-based education.

Real life examples:

"It is with great honor and passion that I reach out to you..."

"I have been a follower of your work, particulary with how you insist on quality education..."

"As a colleague in the struggle for effective education for urban students..." (this one actually started with 'Hey Chris' like this unknown unsolicited email should begin by assuming we are already friends)

The hypocritical part, of course, is that if these email authors, outside-the-community educators, had googled me, at the least, they'd know that I work specifically within-the-community, not from afar, and curse daily at their colonial ignorance/arrogance. But their presumptions, that they have expertise based on 2-3 years of teaching in an urban area (but not THIS urban area), as if Baltimore or New Orleans (which isn't even urban, just with mostly Black schools) or Detroit has the same people and the same issues. In some ways the issues are the same, but mostly, just because the same White colonial educators reach out, claiming expertise, expecting more and more educators to jump on the bandwagon they themselves just found out about. And while many educators do jump with them (mostly because they find ways to be paid well, unlike teachers), the reality is they are driving arrogant whiteness filled colonial wagons in attempts to silence urban students as a way of celebrating their white maleness save-the-savage strengths.

And this is why TFA isn't the problem, this is why all these standards and new new solutions that sound all cute for 2-3 years til the funding dries up as wealthy donors dictate a new new solution. The real problem is not the vehicle white folk create to continue to carve up communities of color - the real problem is that most of us think of this carving as being "educated."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

sunshine

The rather large seventh grader, with a ripped backpack crammed with flammin' hot cheetos, a half-drank 2-liter of generic orange fizz soda, a smashed school notebook, and, as she told me, one pencil, had been sent to the principal's office again.

So we both sat there waiting for the principal, and I asked her why she keeps coming to school (after she told me "they allus be sendin' me to tha principal's office, but she cool. She know me.").

She told me "there's more sunshine here, cause where I be stayin', there's no windows there. And the principal and a coupla teachas, they be ait with me."