Safety part 2
Im careful about my words. I think you can learn a lot by just listening to people speak, specifically HOW they speak. Word choice. Intonation.
You know, like listening to which words people have to look around and lower their voice in order to say.
Or this word "safety." So much this preoccupation of "safety" I hear echoed here in Winston.
It just doesn't mean what we are trying to pretend it means, does it?
My child attends a notoriously "safe" preschool. What does that mean? Exactly how is it so safe? They aren't holding class in the middle of Business 40 while juggling knives and swords that are on fire? YES It is lovely, and all the doors lock and you gotta get buzzed in and Oh yeah, its super duper whitey white. It is where we are now, and I am thankful for it because its wonderful but I feel the tension of the lack of diversity constantly.
There is a public school in a very wealthy neighborhood somewhat near us and its called Whitaker, but many people snarkily refer to it as WHITE-aker because like 99.9% of the population there is white (and wealthy). It is seen as one of the top 2 elementary schools in our city, and touted as SAFE. One of the safest! This is a "safe" school to send your child to! It is seen as the best educational opportunity for kids, and people all over the city strive to get their kids in there. They do have a lot of physical and material resources due to the financial means of their parents and the area they are located.
But, I wonder why these parents or safety judges aren't concerned about the startling total lack of diversity present in these childrens classes. How prepared are these children for the global economy that we live in when they attend a school like that? and then a high school like that, and maybe a college like that. How much will their sense of entitlement and privilege be inflated and result in a lower level of cultural intelligence and empathy? They are missing such huge sweeping opportunities to interact with and learn from and with students of different cultures and races. They are missing the opportunity of having their own social construct of whiteness and privilege and identity formed more accurately.
Why isn't diversity seen as an educational value in more people and exactly what about WHITENESS is so safe? Im not just referring to Whitaker anymore. We all know and can name schools like this no matter where we are from.
And who are these "educationally superior" schools safe FOR? Would it be safe for Black and Mexican and Asian kids to go there?
Like, socially a safe space? There is endless literature and biographies and articles you can read about the need for code switching and cultural acting for educational and professional success on the part of minorities in America.
Are these "safe schools" psychologically safe for students of color? Would their differences be celebrated, or even tolerated, or would they be subject to unfounded and probably outlandish stereotypes about their ethnicity as a result of the ignorance of the kids who have only had experiences and relationships with people who look and act just like them. On the regular, how many rude questions and jokes do you think they would have to field about their looks, hair, propensity for rhythm or sports, parent's aptitude or profession, financial means. (**Just so you know, Im speaking at this point pretty specifically from actual lived experience of countless friends, my real life husband, teens I mentored in Chicago, non fiction sociology books Ive read, and actual people Ive heard speak in person on this subject)
Our world, and our country more immediately is increasingly not white , and no one self isolates like white people. And I think its due to this smoke screen of the desperate clutching of the "value" of safety. And it really is to their own detriment and loss. and it has deep roots in our racist history. yep, read that last sentence again.
Someone new posts in the fb mom groups WEEKLY "We are moving to the area soon, which neighborhoods are safe?"
or a few days ago a mom actually posted "Which movie theaters are safe at night?"
I just don't think they mean safe.
I think they mean White.
And if you mean that, then say that.
Lets give it a try:
"im moving there soon, what neighborhoods are the whitest?"
"what schools are the whitest?"
"What movie theatre are there not darker skinned people attending and possibly having conversations outside of, that might make my white self nervous for no damn reason as I walk past them for 3 seconds?"
But that doesn't sound as pretty does it?
There is nowhere to hide in that statement. It doesn't sound as SAFE to say that.
But a whole lot of us know exactly what you mean, and that whole lot of us need to start standing up and calling that what it is.
Is safety just the absence of physical violence, or the perceived threat of it...no matter how unfounded? There isn't actual factual data to back up any folk lore/wives tale/concoted notion that white people are committing crimes or using/selling drugs at a lower rate than other minority groups. There is plentiful evidence to the contrary however. I will provide if you request. Drugs and crimes are committed pretty evenly across racial lines. How they are policed and prosecuted however, is not pretty evenly across racial lines. Tell me how many factual books, articles, documentaries you would like on this subject and I will happily deliver.
Is safety the absence of material need and the sadness and resulting desperation of need?So, maybe this is more of an intersection of race and class...Im interested what if white people feel as nervous (or less safe) in poor white areas as they do in poor minority areas? Im betting not. #sociology
Is safety merely cultural and racial homogeneity? hmmmmmmm.....maybe this one.
Our current president just said that America is the safest its been in decades and said a few times he also wanted to make America safe again, and I have no idea what the hell he could possibly mean by the use of the word "safest" or "safe" in this statement and in this present day.
Here is a real question to prick at your fragility. (Google "white fragility")
But hear me out, or read me out: Why does the presence of darker skinned people trigger a sense of danger, criminality, and fear in so many white people?
Its just you reading this right now, so be honest with yourself if this is YOU.
Here is a short answer: historical and institutional racism have taught you that. You have internalized that and now you don't even think about it.
Im not even close to done. I got stories for days. Stay with me for part 3 and 4 and 5 and.....