The video on systemic racism is one that I just shared with my cousins and brother. I got into an argument with one of my cousins recently because he is spending $30K/year to send his kids to a private school, even after choosing to live in a school district in which they were paying $30k/year in property taxes to be in a "good" public school district, and then he's on the board of the private school to help them with development and fundraising (he is a finance-stock-trader guy)! I was encouraging them to put as much effort into improving the public schools as they do their children's school which is supposedly already great. They felt that since they were putting their money into public schools via property taxes that they were absolved of responsibility (they couldn't even consider that they might help a poorer school district). The conversation went nowhere. I think the intersection of wealth and white privilege makes it very difficult for people to see how they are part of the problem. And these are people who identify as liberal Democrats.
So as not to just point a finger of blame... I live in New Orleans and work in a charter school. The school system has been 100% privatized and decentralized since Katrina. There are attempts to create centralized systems, such as a lottery application process, but teachers and parents have no power at all. I have worked in this system for 9 years. While I have voiced my disdain to anyone who will listen, I ask myself, what action have I taken to change this system? In what ways have I perpetuated it? I'm helping to start a learning center for home school students but meanwhile there are 50K children in NOPS. The teacher's union was destroyed with privatization, the mass firing of thousands of mostly black teachers after Katrina, and the Teach for America take over. OPSB still has a horrible reputation because of previous corruption. The only way the state has found to hold schools accountable is through standardized test scores, which is highly problematic. At this point, I feel like people just need to take their kids out of schools, but not everyone has that option. All of the racist structures feel so entrenched and then on top of that there is so much systemic poverty that schools are places that families depend on for food, health services, and child care. I feel overwhelmed thinking about it, so I think about the small steps I can take in my school, and I try to imagine other educators doing the same, and advocates working at the macro level... but nothing really changes. I want to spend this summer organizing educators and school social workers, but as a white woman who is not from N.O., I am not sure if that is my place. So, I am supporting other struggles in the local labor movement, hoping that that the interconnectedness of everything will become apparent with enough momentum in one area.