Attention must be PAID. (And “paid for!”)
The time to invest in the US in an equitable way has come, if it’s not already too late.
Far too many “whites” (especially without a strong education) lack effective concepts to deal with what’s “enraging” them. Their grievances hinge on the word “respect” which for “whites” is POISONED by what’s legitimate about the awkward cut of the phrase “white privilege”.
”White Privilege” is a lie. It’s a FALSE sense of security and esteem instilled by systemic brutalizations and denigrations (enforced by terror and violence) of those considered non “white”.
“Whites” with more resources linked to security and self-esteem MAY understand this bitter “privilege” as a historic dynamic. They may understand it as a devious force supporting invidious distinctions BETWEEN “whites” as well as the gore dripping chasm between “Black” and “White.”
People with more resources do not experience the term as the same kind of unnerving threat (or lacerating mockery) it is for those with less. The ways “white privilege” actually WORKS in US society does make it a cruel, threatening taunt to FAR too many “whites ” regardless of wealth or income.
Wealth and income represent only one crucial dimension of the resources supporting security and self-esteem while “white” Americans increasingly experience the insecurities and pathologies associated with having no wealth and uncertain incomes. (Pathologies we’ve been encultured to associate with “Blacks.”) This is NOT the kind of “equality” we need, but leveling based on “sharing the deprivation” is the boogeyman long used to keep us ignorant and divided.)
Education in its broadest sense represents another set of dimensions related to security and esteem. It goes beyond formal schooling and skill credentials. Education’s links to human potential are similar to those of healthcare and community. And such opportunities are not simply economic. Nor are they always clearly linked to what can be easily measured or observed.
To avoid (or reverse) a bloody cataclysm, we MUST invest heavily to reverse regional inequalities that go far beyond the neglect of inner cities. And FAR beyond education. Every part of the US outside of top tier cities and college towns suffers from a wealth drain engineered by international monopolies and oligarchy.
Infrastructure investment MUST address the broadest possible range of resources involving security and self-esteem for everyone. SOON! (#JoeBiden) It must instill a quest for excellence less focused on comparisons to others than to a wide spectrum of stepped propensities associated with helping OTHERS achieve their potentials in their own ways in a material and social environment that can be sustained.
A strong education is not based on any single narrow sense of skills. Neither is basic literacy. Nor is a strong education limited to the developmental ages of childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. Nothing is central to it. Not even schooling although the most basic forms of schooling, literacy, and numeracy will always need sustenance.
The crisis of a pandemic and necessary physical distancing can open new opportunities to reimagine education in a broader context of social and material supports. These supports do involve technology as well as healthcare and nutrition while recognizing them all as only parts of a broader set of necessary infrastructures. We can find new ways to integrate each into community, family, and national life while we nurture it all with committed and essential resources. We can be human without being human “capital”.
A strong education is a process of building understandings of how one’s self, one’s relationships, one’s communities, and opportunities are shaped by human culture and how one can best use one’s capacities to improve that culture to be more responsive to everyone’s needs. A strong education is based on stories (all partly myths). That’s so because our propensity to tell and believe stories is one of the fundamentals of our humanity. But a strong education must include ways of consuming and telling BETTER stories however we are constrained to create and understand them using numbers, words, images, models, simulations, or performances.
What happens to capacities that are neglected or squelched?
What happens to a raisin in the sun?
What is a conspiracy theory or a cult but a pathology of our storytelling capacity?
We (including you reading this now) can start by criticizing two stories set up to awkwardly conflict with each other. One is “White Supremacy” and the other is “White Privilege.” What we can’t honorably do is deny the Everests of data and experience showing how Blacks in the US have been terrorized, brutalized, and diminished by all our institutions. We can’t honestly entertain stories pretending this injustice is a relic of some imaginary past. Then we might see how this ongoing travesty has diminished us all, and how it still might destroy us.
If it’s not too late.