America is good at creating White Nationalists, the history of America reveals this; you need only to look at the national mythology of an America founded on Freedom, Justice, and Equality. Those principles have never been included in the lived experiences of people in America who are on the wrong side of “the color line” the phrase which W.E.B. DuBois coined while discussing the condition of Blackness in Souls of Black Folk. This national mythology has become a national identity which has since stretched into the national education system as largely, it is a function of the White nationalist society that created it and instead of educating, this education system indoctrinates. Children, and young adults within this system are taught how to conform, not how to form critical opinion and are often punished for either nonconformity or having an opinion and an understanding that bucks what America’s racist education system desires them to ingest, especially if those children and young adults are similarly on the wrong side of the color line. America’s education system has been attempting to change its perception over the years, specifically since the introduction of Black students in the late sixties and early seventies, however this cosmetic alteration has done very little if anything at all to change the underpinings of the education system which has been and is currently rife with racism. You may ask “How can a system which still operates with perspectives of anti-black racism work in the best interest of Black children?” I am sure you already know the answer to this question, and that answer is not only that it cannot, but it has no desire to.
According to David Gilborn in his article titled Education policy as an act of white supremacy: whiteness, critical race theory and education reform “…race inequity may not be a planned and deliberate goal of education policy neither is it accidental. The patterning of racial advantage and inequity is structured in domination and its continuation represents a form of tacit intentionality on the part of white powerholders and policy‐makers. It is in this sense that education policy is an act of white supremacy.” Here, Gilborn echoes the growing sentiment that racism and it may be extended also to the system of white supremacy as a whole is not only determined by intent, but the effects of a given set of actions, therefore it is not enough that race inequality is not an intended aim of education policy, because the students who are feeling the brunt of this inequality do not know nor care about the intended applications of education policy, they just know it is neither satisfactory nor is it an experience that takes their needs into account on their ends. To that effect, older research from Iram Siraj-Blatchford corroborates that, using a series of interview questions which yielded the following response from a student teacher in England, which similarly to the American education system is undoubtedly shaped by racism: “The institution was totally ‘racist’ — we had to demand for some ‘cultural
awareness’ and only got a Gujerati language course in the second term.
This was after we’d already been on teaching practice and some teachers
had totally ‘cocked-it-up’ by not being aware of cultural and religious
differences between groups. The course on multiculturalism was optional
and consequently a lot of unenlightened students felt that the whole issue
was optional. When we demanded more racism awareness training the
institution said ‘You tell us what you want and need’ — well if we knew
that precisely, being inexperienced teaching practice students, we’d be
running the institutions, not them! The lecturers had an optional anti-
racism awareness day and of course only a few went. I feel that the
institution needs its practices scrutinised and totally overhauled.”
In addition to this, Sherry Marx’s paper entitled “Regarding Whiteness: Exploring and Intervening in the Effects of White Racism in Teacher Education” contains the following: “Through various means of data collection, it became apparent that the good intentions of the participants were consistently undermined by the whiteness and the racism that influenced their beliefs about and behaviors with the children. The researcher consequently decided to intervene in the study, sharing data with participants and encouraging them to see the ways that whiteness and racism influenced their tutoring experience.”
Taken together, these excerpts and quotes reveal that the education system indeed is a product of the larger system which produced it, that being a racist, white supremacist nation, be that nation England or America; the way that education functions is summarily exclusionary and tokenizing of both Black children and Black experiences. Some people believe that reform and changing the way that teachers engage with students will fix this problem, some people believe that creating more historically incisive material will allow for greater engagement from Black students, and I believe that though these things will undoubtedly have some ripple effects, I surmise that unless the society which informs and creates and shapes the environment in which these Black students live is radically transformed; these efforts are essentially the same as putting a fresh band-aid on a wound that is hemorraging. The central issue with schooling as it currently functions is the same issue that faces American society as it currently functions and that is that it has been shaped in, conditioned by and made to reflect the white supremacy that ultimately created it.
Today’s white supremacists and Nazi marchers were not created in a vacuum, they likely were taught that Christopher Columbus discovered America, that White settlers civilized Native American tribes, that whiteness is required to be a true citizen, a true patriot or at least that one has to have sensibilities aligned with whiteness to be acceptable. It is highly likely that they have never been forced to interrogate why they were taught these things are true when in the reality of history, these things are nationalistic fabrications of a country and a people that have to justify why things are the way they are. It is equally as likely that they have never had to be the only white face anywhere and have never felt pressure to conform to any kind of structure which actually served to undermine their humanity as they are the default setting for humanity in every context. I am aware that it is also just as highly likely that even without the constant reinforcing of a history which hints at if it does not scream that whiteness used to be great, before it was forced to share space with all of this blackness and all of this otherness that now inundates their America; that they would still be racist, that they would still take up torches and guns and try to violently impress upon the rest of us the empirical nature of their glorious whiteness. However, it might be a bit better for the rest of us if the American fascination with sanitizing history in the name of conservativism or Republicanism or whatever else was erased from the schools which must among other things create new Americans. At every level, both the concept and the practice and the effect of schooling has to be reimagined, reshaped, recreated so as to not punish those who look at what is taught from a historical lens which emancipates the ability to call the lens from which events are currently recorded and told and taught for the farce that it is without punishment. I wish we had an American school system that cared that it is functioning in anti Blackness because America was literally written into being with anti Blackness, and anything that America creates from that original sin is marred. I wish we had an America that had a desire to emancipate itself from anti black racism. But I know we have an America that actually thinks it’s doing enough, despite the fact that its education system is only reinforcing white nationalism, white supremacy, and white violence.