Opinion
Equity & Diversity Letter to the Editor

Whitesplaining Segregation

January 21, 2020 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

I was shocked to read the article concerning so-called controversy surrounding mere usage of the term “racial segregation” as it relates to public education (“It’s One of the Most Fraught Words in Education. What Does It Mean?Big Ideas in Education special report, Jan. 8, 2020). There is no area of life within the thoroughly racist, white-supremacist-based U.S. nation-state in which racial segregation is more pronounced and objectively more obvious than in the arena of public education.

I was especially surprised by a quote contained in the article that was attributed to Ibram X. Kendi, who is a leading historian regarding matters of race and racism and is considered as being one of the nation’s foremost authorities on the subject. In fact, I wondered if the writer had quoted Kendi accurately, fully, and in context. He supposedly asserted that “segregation is distinct from separation—it’s involuntary.” I get that racial segregation is “involuntary” for many, such as the millions of students and families stuck, with no viable alternatives, in urban schools with overwhelmingly Black, economically poor student populations. However, from an historical perspective, we know that the pervasive racial segregation we continue to witness today, especially in housing and education (66 years after Brown v. Board of Education), is not the result of involuntary actions. As a matter of fact, the exact opposite is true.

Lastly, Kendi reportedly sees every action as either racist (promoting and/or perpetuating maintenance of race-based inequities) or anti-racist (working against promotion and/or maintenance of race-based inequities). How then does he view this article, which clearly posits that there are legitimate perspectives and arguments relative to the need to be careful or cautious about even so much as discussing segregation?

Is the intent and impact of the article not racist? Surely, we cannot argue (legitimately) that it is anti-racist.

Howard J. Eagle

Adjunct Instructor

The College at Brockport, SUNY

Rochester, N.Y.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the January 22, 2020 edition of Education Week as Whitesplaining Segregation

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure Webinar
A New Era In Connected Learning: Security, Accessibility and Affordability for a Future-Ready Classroom
Learn about Windows 11 SE and Surface Laptop SE. Enable students to unlock learning and develop new skills.
Content provided by Microsoft Surface
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Making Technology Work Better in Schools
Join experts for a look at the steps schools are taking (or should take) to improve the use of technology in schools.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity A School Openly Discusses Race in a State That Bans It
At Millwood High School, discussions on race are everywhere, and students say the lessons are essential.
7 min read
Students pass through the halls in between classes at Millwood High School on April 20, 2022 in Oklahoma City.
Students change classes at Millwood High School this spring in Oklahoma City.
Brett Deering for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Opinion The Buffalo Massacre Is Exactly Why We Need to Talk About Racism With White Students
Too many white people are receiving their information about race from racist media rather than their schools, writes David Nurenberg.
David Nurenberg
4 min read
On May 15, people march to the scene of a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.
On May 15, people march to the scene of a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.
Matt Rourke/AP
Equity & Diversity Native American Children Endured Brutal Treatment in U.S. Boarding Schools, Federal Report Shows
Deaths, physical and psychological punishments, and manual labor occurred at the more than 400 federal boarding schools.
5 min read
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks at the Cherokee Immersion School on Dec. 3, 2021, in Tahlequah, Okla. The Interior Department is on the verge of releasing a report on its investigation into the federal government's past oversight of Native American boarding schools. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said Wednesday, March 16, 2022, the report will come out next month.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland speaks at the Cherokee Immersion School in December, in Tahlequah, Okla. Her agency's report documents harmful conditions, deaths, and physical punishment for Native American students forced to attend federal boarding schools.
Michael Woods/AP
Equity & Diversity Early Transgender Identity Tends to Endure, Study Suggests
Children who begin identifying as transgender at a young age tend to retain that identity at least for several years, a study suggests.
2 min read
Conceptual picture of transgender flag overlaying shadows and silhouettes of anonymous people on a road.
iStock/Getty Images Plus