Truth In Between
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Truth In Between

Affirmative Education

Beyond Liberal Racism

Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. -Neil Gaiman

“Wherever you go, you take yourself with you,” is the message my co-host Timothy Mayo has taught his son. You just can’t escape being you, and finding and expressing your value, whether in medicine or mechanics, at Harvard University or Hillsboro Community College, is his credo.

Teaching our children to develop their skills and core strengths, and giving them the resources to do so, is the premise of what he likes to call Affirmative Education. Affirmative Education ensures that children are nurtured to explore and expand their particular interests, without the weight of social expectations and status that can affect self-esteem and personal growth.

Affirmative Action, on the other hand, emphasizes elite achievement over intellectual curiosity, sometimes perpetuating the victimization of our youth who struggle with social standards that do not always align to their interests or authentic worth. Many of these societal standards are the result of what he calls, “liberal racism”.

Liberal racism often results in a narrative of oppression, where winners and losers are predetermined, leading to a cycle of poverty and underachievement. This system becomes entrenched when we are forced into nebulous group identities based on how many boxes we can check to establish privilege instead of honoring the gifts of our individual children. However, under a rubric of Affirmative Education, we can break this cycle.

One of the most important ways to spark change is to create programs where children are not only encouraged to develop their particular skills (perhaps best done in schools that emphasize project-based learning), but also to take these skills back into the community as part of their education.

In this conversation I struggle a little bit with the ideas of capitalism and socialism. As I mentioned in the piece on Affirmative Action, I don’t believe the “iron rice bowl” mentality, that can accompany socialist and communist regimes and policies, creates enough incentives for innovation and ingenuity. And yet, I believe that we must ensure that our children have equity of opportunity with the same educational resources, early in life. After that, I think we decide what we do with those opportunities, which result in different outcomes. I also believe in the individual, but with the caveat that each individual has a civic responsibility in building strong communities. The two aren’t mutually exclusive although they are often considered antonyms. Capitalism vs Socialism. Individual vs Community.

Ah but life is messy, and rarely if ever binary.

If we focus on Timm’s Affirmative Education prescription where we advocate for our children within the family and through public education, we provide them with the individual confidence and assurance of their self-worth, while instilling a civic commitment and connectivity to their communities. That sounds like a win-win solution for creating more victors and not victims. Wherever I go, I hope, like Timm, I take that kind of strength and resiliency with me.

In the Hold my Drink Podcast — navigating the news and politics with a chaser of civility — Episode 20, Affirmative Education, co-host Timothy Mayo and I discuss Affirmative Education and how we can create equal opportunities for our children, regardless of race or socio-economic background. He believes in diversity and diversity of thought and seeks to throw off the shackles of what he calls Liberal Racism to promote victors and not victims. All discussed with a chaser of civility, of course, and a chai tea.

Hold My Drink welcomes all people with all kinds of beverages to join us as we discuss what it takes to imagine a new American identity, together.

Find us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or watch the conversation unfold on YouTube, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

What Timm is reading

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson

Evidence of Things Not Seen, James Baldwin

What Jen is reading

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, Sebastian Junger

The Madness of Crowds, Douglas Murray

Timothy Mayo, an entrepreneur, elite soccer referee and musician, is a patriot and a proud American Descendent of Slavery (ADOS), whose family was victimized in the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Ok, aka “Black Wall Street.”



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