With the Derek Chauvin verdict, holding a police officer accountable for the death of George Floyd, it is sickening to behold any opposition to the suffering that the African American community endures. A counter movement claimed much smaller crowds hailing that white lives matter and attempted to promote the idea of opposition “against the media, government and educational institutions that are anti-white.” The entitlement with these views is undeniable and is rooted in our flawed educational system, which continues to perpetuate white supremacy. The history that we are given is dominated by white males and their successes and it does not account for the history or achievements of people of color.
The counter movement in support of white supremacy illustrates not just a cultural bias but a historical one as well. Some of us watch these atrocities unfold, such as the Trump rallies, the capital insurrection and most recently the white lives matter protest in Huntington Beach and wonder how some people still believe that we live in a society based on equality.
The root of this dispute is education or lack of it. We limit the celebration of African American achievements to one month and as a generalization, most American individuals are only aware of a few key figures in African American achievement and are unaware of the vast accomplishments that have been and made throughout history. The story of slavery is only brushed upon in schools and depending on your geographical location, it may even be skewed or presented with a white bias, stating that there were “benevolent” slave owners. If children are socialized to believe that the white experience is the standard then we can only expect to continue this maddening circular dance towards true equity.
For California, the idea of an inclusive curriculum wasn’t even a part of legislation until just last month, with the approval of ethnic studies for grades K-12 by the State Board of Education. Why does the history of minority groups create an upheaval for the majority? This would be a question that any person opposed should ask themselves. It is not the eradication of white history or the damning of white individuals. The only thing that we can count on, is that we are moving towards an equal representation of all individuals in our diverse country. Honestly, we may be trying to move towards equality, by no means are we anywhere close to justice.
If an ethnic study needs to be included, the first question we should ask ourselves is, what information about history has been withheld from us and for what reason. As a nation we cannot continue to assume that we are living in an egalitarian society when the mention of an ethnic curriculum incites a feeling of injustice from Euro-Americans.
Another key element to understanding the historical bias for Euro-American males is, who has been dictating and writing the texts. We cannot expect to understand other cultures if they are being presented through a predominantly white male gaze. The American Psychology Association acronym for this particular perspective is rightfully called WEIRD, western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic. Much of psychological analysis has been based on the WEIRD perspective, leaving anything outside of it’s tiny range labeled as deviant.
If each subgroup in America has their own traditions and lived experiences how can we expect to understand people of color if we are given their history and lived experience by a small group of white people who have no idea what it is like to be a person of color, let alone an adequate ally? Arguably, the extremist attitude that resists opposing viewpoints, particularly viewpoints from people of color, as an attack on their rights is misinformed. Many far right extremists regard critical race theory as anti-American, when few if any can define the framework because if they could, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. All of this circles back to our education. The entitled attitudes of these individuals can be partially attributed to the upholding of white supremacy in historical accounts and the deliberate dismissal of the history of people of color.
Capitalism is revered in our country and teaches us that the American Dream can be our reality, when in fact our society is highly stratified and is not an equal playing field. When we examine capitalism we can conclude that it is competitive, therefore the competition should be fair but it is not. Depending on your race, gender or social status, your attempt at the dream will vary. Why is it that the supporters of capitalism do not support a fair game? When we view our society as a just-world, we lose the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and we perpetuate abusive scenarios, specifically among our police force.
With the support of racial justice and inclusiveness in all arenas of American representation, we can ensure a future of true equity. Although the current victories with Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict and the passing of the ethnic studies in the California curriculum shine a light towards a new future, it does not determine an end to the battle for equality and justice for all. There are still many questions to be asked and truthfully answered.
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