Opinion
Equity & Diversity Letter to the Editor

Whitesplaining Segregation

January 21, 2020 1 min read

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

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive
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
Student Well-Being Webinar
Embracing Student Engagement: The Pathway to Post-Pandemic Learning
As schools emerge from remote learning, educators are understandably worried about content and skills that students would otherwise have learned under normal circumstances. This raises the very real possibility that children will face endless hours
Content provided by Newsela

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 Opinion Are Our Schools Any Closer to Equity?
Schools are trying to focus on equity, but a slew of new legislation is preventing that focus from becoming a reality.
Sean Slade & Alyssa Gallagher
4 min read
E20D8BC6 ED5F 43B7 817C 5FA00DCA5904
Shutterstock
Equity & Diversity Spotlight Spotlight on Critical Race Theory
In this Spotlight, learn what critical race theory is, what it isn't, and how it's a practice, not a curriculum.
Illustrations.
Mary Hassdyk for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Opinion I Am an Indian American Man. I Had Anti-Racist Work to Do
When adults reflect on who they are and where they come from, their awareness leads to better learning outcomes for their students.
Anil Hurkadli
5 min read
Abstract drawing of the profile of a head, clouds of thoughts and radiance from the eyes.
Elena Medvedeva/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Equity & Diversity American Indian Mascots Will Soon Be Banned in Colorado Public Schools
Colorado would become the fifth state to get rid of derogatory mascots.
Saja Hindi, The Denver Post
2 min read
Students walk into Loveland High School, past a sign at the entrance bearing the image of the school mascot, a Native American, in Loveland, Colo. on Sept. 11, 2014.
Students walk into Loveland High School, past a sign at the entrance bearing the image of the school mascot, a Native American, in Loveland, Colo.
Brennan Linsley/AP