Response to "Don't Blame Diversity for Distrust" NYT Article

As an international consultant who partners with schools, educational and arts organizations, and foundations on issues of cultural competency and global citizenship, a large part of my work is dedicated to deconstructing the ways in which individuals differentially understand the nature and aims of diversity.

More often than not, the notion that "diversity is the problem," often stems from more deeply rooted issues around equality vs. equity or a lack of understanding/awareness that the United States does not truly represent a meritocracy. While hard work is often part of the equation for success, concrete quantifiable empirical measures find that a number of variables mediate and inform an individual's ability to flourish. All this to say that I was initially intrigued by this article's premise but became increasingly disillusioned by successive flaws in the overall analysis. 

Check out the article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/22/opinion/sunday/dont-blame-diversity-for-distrust.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1

My primary critique concerns the authors' diluting the true nature of differential levels of trust among Black and Latinos relative to Whites: systemic and institutional racism. I also find that the throughout the article the authors confound and conflate racial and socioeconomic diversity, often characterizing Black and Latino communities as a monolith of low SES members. Do Blacks and/or Latino from higher SES groups report higher levels of trust in (racially) diverse communities? Or, as I suspect, do they report similar differential levels of trust, relative to Whites, informed by institutional and systemic racism. Also, where are Asians, the largest growing ethnic group, in this analysis? Is the assumption that Asians would have similarly high levels of trust as Whites? And to what extent does region and SES inform their levels of trust, particularly as Asian representation becomes increasingly socioeconomically diverse?

Ultimately, the most salient insight that I gleaned from this article is an affirmation of the critical need to continue efforts to dismantle institutional and systemic racism, which are inextricably linked to socioeconomics in the US. Moreover, fostering racially diverse neighborhoods will require an intentionality to reconcile longstanding racial and ethnic differences, while also providing meaningful opportunities to cultivate trust. Finally, the onus of fostering trust must be distributed among all races and ethnicities, including Whites.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't : The Myth of the Model Asian Minority

This informative New York Times article provides an accessible and instructive case studies of how recent racial demographic shifts have yielded a dynamic in affluent public school districts where Asian-Americans and Whites compete for coveted college admissions. As the racial and ethnic demographics of the United States continue to evolve, historically unchallenged racialized assumptions regarding the nature, aims and distribution of education will continue to come to a head.

Moreover, if history teaches us anything, the rules of the game will also evolve. Consider this: a recent study found that white definitions of college admissions and merit change when they think about Asian Americans (https://www.insidehighered.com/…/white-definitions-merit-an…). 

Here's the thing: people of color have long known (and again, longitudinal empirical research would corroborate) that we need to be twice as prepared to even be considered to gain access to networks. The challenge is that meritocracy, white privilege and post-racial ideologies complicate excavating this reality. 

Controlling for socioeconomics in a largely affluent district, it follows that race mediates the attitudes, expectations, behaviors and advocacy of the parents of different racial groups. Until we acknowledge that the American system of education was not conceived as meritocratic or to "level the playing field," we will continue to run around in circles, waste resources and replicate inequities.

Check out the article here:

New York Times Article

 

Strong Opinion or Informed Opinion? What Do You Know About Baltimore?

The recent events in Baltimore do not reflect an isolated event; rather; the frustration that manifested in protest is the product of a number of sociopolitical and historical considerations. Generating a comprehensive analysis requires pulling from a number of disciplines, many of which are beyond the expertise of most educators. A few days ago I happened upon a veritable treasure trove of resources, which I now share with you.