Happy Monday! There was a ton of news on reparations and the racial wealth gap published in the last week. There’s are a couple of pieces that I hope you get a chance to take a look at!
The Hot Takes section is an overview of what I learned in my latest piece for Prism that highlights how the racial wealth gap affects teachers. I learned a ton and got to speak with some thoughtful practitioners and advocates.
I hope you get a chance to dive into two pieces published in the New York Times last Friday. One is a reported piece that examines various local efforts to issue reparations — a topic Reparations Daily (ish) covered in Vol 23. with our conversation with Dr. Andre Perry.
The second is an opinion piece by Dr. William Darity on the need for reparations in closing the racial wealth gap. We also interviewed Dr. Darity in our 31st edition of the newsletter.
Here’s my list of pieces you may want to check out:
My piece in Prism on how the racial wealth gap is affecting teachers.
This piece in the New York Times examining the idea of local reparations.
This opinion piece by Dr. Darity highlighting how reparations will close the racial wealth gap.
This long-form piece in the New Yorker highlighting efforts to rescue Black burial grounds.
This local piece in the Jefferson Public Radio highlighting the latest developments with California’s reparations task force.
With radical love,
New York Times: Why Reparations Are Needed to Close the Racial Wealth Gap
The New Yorker: When Black History Is Unearthed, Who Gets to Speak for the Dead?
Fox News: Getting critical race theory out of public schools is more complex than passing a law (not endorsing)
D Magazine: 4 Ways to Help Close the Gender Wealth Gap
Jefferson Public Radio: Historic California Reparations Task Force Discusses Community Engagement, History of Slavery
I learned a ton reporting on this piece and wish I had more time to talk to more teachers across the country. The biggest takeaway that I heard from pretty much every person who I interviewed was that we would see more and higher-caliber teachers of color if teacher pay wasn’t so low.
The average Black college graduate has $52,000 in student loan debt, about $25,000 more than their white counterpart. Black teachers are also more likely to teach in impoverished areas, where the pay is generally lower. This has created a vicious cycle where Black students and other students of color do not have teachers who look like them, which has proven to be overwhelmingly beneficial to students.
I spoke with Sharif El-Mekki, who runs the Center for Black Educator Development (funders, particularly those focused on education, should look into their work). He kept using a James Baldwin quote (which he also used as the center for this op-ed published in June of 2020), which says that “to teach Black children is a revolutionary act.” He slightly amended this to say, “to teach Black children is a superbly revolutionary act.
In our conversation, I asked him, what makes an educator revolutionary? To which he said, “an intense focus on student outcomes, specifically Black student outcomes.” Because when you look at how teachers are trained, they are trained with a white pedagogical framework. He and his colleagues at the Center for Black Educator Development look to center a Black pedagogical framework that starts with the Black child in mind — which, according to him, is revolutionary in itself.
According to El-Mekki, an educator activist is keenly conscious about the environment in which they are educating children while also heavily invested in understanding the political ramifications of not teaching students well. An educator activist recognizes that educational justice and racial justice cannot be separated. Social justice, according to El-Mekki, must include radically reforming our educational system.
We briefly touched on Gloria Ladson-Billings and her thoughts on the “achievement gap,” which she argues in this essay should be conceptualized as an educational debt we as a nation have accrued. And, instead of focusing on telling kids to catch up, we have to think about how we will begin to pay down this educational debt.
El-Mekki said that this notion of educational debt should be included when we talk about reparations because the federal government withheld education from Black people for so long.
Aside from student loan debt, what do reparations look like in the education context? Something I will continue to think about and urge you to as well.