I’m sure many of you have seen this link but we’d be remiss not to post it here as well. Professor Yankah has penned a heartbreaking article in the NYTimes and, sadly if not predictably, many of the comments miss the point altogether.
Yankah writes that “[m]eaningful friendship is not just a feeling. It is not simply being able to share a beer. Real friendship is impossible without the ability to trust others, without knowing that your well-being is important to them… History has provided little reason for people of color to trust white people in this way, and these recent months have put in the starkest relief the contempt with which the country measures the value of racial minorities.”
Meaningful friendship, built upon trust. Yes, indeed. The centuries of violence and opportunity hoarding make trust at a societal level seem outrageous at best. Building anything close to trust will take great effort and commitment…
I find hope in the pockets of places where we have, as parents, thrown our lots together, intertwined our fates. I see glimpses of promise in these school communities that equally value all parents and children, that struggle their way toward building equity as they slowly pull the nails out of the boards of white supremacy. I see signals that my own (white/privileged) children will come to the table with humility and in community, shaped by shared everyday experience.
These are small moments, tiny places but their size and scope does not make them insignificant. Because none of these moments and places are bounded, their tendrils find their way into far-flung spaces. The children become adults. The people become communities. People in community can build capacity for something *else*.
“The desire,” Professor Yankah writes “to create, maintain or wield power over others destroys the possibility of friendship.” While, we might not like to think of it this way, choosing a school for our kids is a form of power. The decisions we make as parents seem intensely private and personal, the uncomfortable truth is that we do not live in a vacuum; our choices affect all kids. The privilege-segregated schools we love so much are the same ones that make possible apartheid schools. Maintaining that illusion and shielding ourselves from facing it is a form of privilege. This is another form of “criminal innocence.”
“Sometimes politics makes demands on the soul.”
Ekow N. Yankah (@ekownyankah)