Friday, January 17, 2014

Our common curriculum

Barbara Stemke, former teacher and labor Services Representative as well as Citizen Action volunteer for immigration reform, talks about a new organization in Kingston, the End the New Jim Crow Action Network.

Barbara, Gary and I discussed our white perspective on ending the "new Jim Crow" in America. It seems like we hadn't completely understood the old Jim Crow, the long history of racism in this country. All three of us have been involved in progressive causes for quite some time, of course. We have all opposed racism, both in our own country and abroad. But how effective can a white person be unless he/she really understands the underlying racism of our popular culture?

Michelle Alexander's book does just that. The history of racism that should be taught in all our schools. There should be discussion groups between whites and people of color on how we can work together to overcome an unfair and unjust system. We need to listen to each other's fears. We need to identify how our ruling class promotes racism to win elections, and to dissipate the power of working people. We have to look at our media in a new light.

We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change by Myles Horton and Paulo Freire can teach us the process. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander can provide our common curriculum.

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