STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.

Race: even when we're not talking about...we're talking about it

clothing in rubble
As It Happens

Next week Thursday at 3pm, and again at 10pm, State of Opportunity's Jennifer Guerra presents a special hour-long documentary on race, education, and opportunity in Michigan.

While some might say we're "burned out" with talk about race and racism, it remains a timely topic in so many ways. Before we bring it home with Jen's doc on race and Michigan kids, just a wide-ranging look at how race appears in the media last two weeks:

  • As we continue to process the anger, sadness, grief, and inexplicable horror of the bombings in Boston, Salon magazine asks, "Are the Tsnarnev brothers white?" Why does it matter? Well, the media's reporting and social media sure has speculated about it.  The level of speculation (Reddit), racial/ethnic profiling, misreporting (CNN's John Kingreporting on a "dark-skinned man" in custody), and racist assumptions show that we do care about the answer. A lot.   
  • Bangladeshi authorities and citizens continue to try and dig out the 300+ people who died in a collapsed building where they made Western clothes. Racial, national, economic, and international trade politics are all linked in what we actually do about the human costs for our disposable clothes and bargain shopping. With manufacturing moved overseas, people in Western countries tend to think "those people," usually brown, are "stealing our jobs," but wonder why they accept such poor working standards. Racial scapegoating stands in for questioning structures that contribute to trade imbalances and outsourcing. 

  • Faz, a blogger for xoJane, wrote a disturbing, but revealing post about the racism she experienced as a child, and continues to experience, as a brown woman in Singapore. Her experiences in the classroom with racist teachers and classmates are shocking. We may say, "Oh, that could never happen here," but what does happen here in our classrooms? How do we respond to the impact on black and white students when a teacher holds a mock slave auction in class?

Guerra's report will focus on issues of race here in Michigan, but as we know better than anyone, issues at the local level are reflective of issues at the national level.
Clearly, the reverberations from the last two week's events show the significance and persistence of race as a pressing matter how "fatigued" we might be of having the conversation. 

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