“How Often Do We Choose Not To Know?”

“When you have conversations about racial differences without talking about racial power you get discourse that blames marginalized people for their marginalization.”

“Not only do we have inequities in society but those inequalities are reflective of broken promises to fix them.”

“To call affirmative action preferential treatment is to ignore the real preferential treatment that was already taking place.”

-Kimberlé Crenshaw

This video entitled “Structural Discrimination: The Unequal Opportunity Race” produced by The African American Policy Forum (AAPF) uses a race as a metaphor to highlight inequitable barriers that support white supremacy, and proposes Affirmative Action as one way to help level the playing field. The video was banned in a Virginia school district over concerns that it was racially divisive and created feelings of white guilt.

I had the opportunity to hear Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw; co-founder and Executive Director of AAPF talk about this video, where she talked about the societal necessity to move away from conceptualizing equity and social justice as “preferential treatment” and to instead move towards thinking of it as removing barriers that exist.  She asked us to consider how the video is trying to tell a story about structural inequality across generations, and also to consider what story is present in the video that would make it so controversial, that the resulting outcry would lead to it being banned as it was, and still is, in that Virginia school district.

Crenshaw said that a common misconception is that, the further away we get from history, the better we are. She explained that in terms of wealth and other disparities, the further we get away from the history of the creation of policies that created disparities, the wider those disparities become. She ended by saying that we should continue to tell that history and not revise it.

“If we’re striving for wholeness, justice, and equity, it can only be gained on the basis of truth; the whole story.”

“In America, history is something that we want to look back on and be proud of, and if it’s not, we don’t want to hear it. We erase it.”

“To skip over it, and water it down, is to do a huge disservice to ourselves.”

How often do we CHOOSE not to know, and actively find ways to silence the voices of those who are trying to tell us?”

Naomi Tutu


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones

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I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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