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Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Hope is not a strategy. But it’s all we got, when it comes to the possibility that living in a post­-race America is possible for our children. Hope, that the death of George Floyd at the hands of police brutality will be the last. Hope, that virulent expressions of nationalism, populism, and racism are not a reawakening of a movement, but the final chapter in a troubling historical narrative with deep roots. Hope, that America’s most widely popular sport fumbling Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful kneeling to protest police brutality and racial inequality on top of its record of advancing people of color into top leadership positions leads to "The Shield" taking an active role in eliminating systemic racism, not perpetuating it. Hope, that the quantum leap that hopeful people considered the election of Barack Obama doesn’t become a footnote in the rise of the current president’s power and popularity.

Hope, that the parents of Black children never have to have "The Talk" with their children, especially their sons, about police encounters. I propose that supposition to my organizational theory students.

Together we will explore and deconstruct these irreducibly complex concepts. We aim to make sense of it all. Sensemaking is among the theoretical frameworks we study. While education leadership serves as a useful context to conduct an explicit discussion of systemic and individual acts of racism, since it’s a moral imperative among leaders to remedy inequities that result from these acts, it wouldn’t matter. Black lives matter. Bringing the movement into the classroom is our responsibility as teachers, schools, and institutions of higher learning.

When we signed up to be an educator, we accepted the responsibility to lead conversations about the before-mentioned complex concepts, including truth, justice, and activism, as the Southern Poverty Law Center has long advocated schools should do. Educators can foster healing and reconciliation.

There is no apolitical classroom. Not at any level. The classroom is no place for neutrality. And silence is complicity. Systemic racism is a stain on our educational system and has been for a long time, as James S. Coleman concluded in his 1966 report, Equality of Educational Opportunity, setting in motion a variety of strategies to achieve racial balance in public schools.

While a multicultural and social justice framework has advanced teacher education, it has fallen short when it comes to addressing institutional racism and racial capitalism. As have the efforts of government forces legislating equity. Education as an institution has historically been white-dominate.

My students in my other class this summer, focused on resource optimization, will also explore racism. School funding has long been an example of systemic racism, with its roots in property taxes and redlining. Working with the next generation of education leaders during these unprecedented times, related to COVID-19, and these all too familiar times, related to racial injustice, give me hope that a post-race America can emerge, maybe even in my lifetime.

A key principle of Critical Race Theory (CRT) is that racism is ordinary. As we discuss the current and latest examples of systemic racism, we will use CRT to help us understand how victims of systemic racism are affected by cultural perceptions of race. As Sharon P. Holland wrote in, The Last Word on Racism: New Directions for a Critical Race Theory, “We cannot think about race without thinking about the racism that defines race, interprets it, and decrees what the personal and institutional work of race will be.”

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