The issues surrounding race and racism in America envelop the nation’s inhabitants like an intricately woven wool cloak. It is at times hot and heavy, often unbearably so, and people of color can’t seem to ever escape its suffocating grasp. White people, as many scholars of critical race theory have stated, have the privilege of its warmth. They are protected, more often than not, from the danger that racism precipitates and, if they so choose, can ignore its existence altogether.
NPR is out with a list of “Summer Reading for Your Woke Kid.” It opens with the example of a father who wanted to read a picture book to his son about “the importance of social justice,” but couldn’t find any. One would think that’s because his child is two. In my family, we encourage our toddlers to befriend all people regardless of what they look like or where they come from. Discussions of racial differences happen once children gradually realize that external appearances matter to some people, because it typically doesn’t to them.
No one ever said that higher education wouldn’t cost money. Across the country, tuition is steadily rising and students are taking longer to pay off their student loans.
Today, 44 million consumers share $1.4 trillion in borrowed student debt – more than double what it was in 2008. On average, graduating seniors with a bachelor’s degree begin their careers with about $30,000 in student loans, while graduate students are almost assured of incurring six-figure student debt.
I am white. When I give talks on what it means to be white in a society deeply separate and unequal by race, I explain that white people who are born and raised in the U.S. grow up in a white supremacist culture. I include myself in this claim, as I enumerate all of the ways in which I was socialized to be complicit in racism. I am not talking about hate groups, of which I am obviously not a member. And no, I don’t hate white people. I am addressing most of the audience to whom I am speaking, white progressives like me.
If it surprises and unsettles my audience that I use this term to refer to us and not them, even after I have explained how I am using it, then they have not been listening. That recognition should trigger some sense of urgency that continuing education is needed.