Citizenship and Social Justice | Race & Racism | Curriculumby Jon Greenberg | July 10, 2015
When teaching about race and racism, I invite participants to consider the following analogy: Think of racism as a gigantic societal-sized boot.
“Which groups do you think are fighting the hardest against this boot of racism?” I ask them. Invariably, participants of diverse races answer that those fighting hardest to avoid getting squashed by the boot are people of Color. (Keep in mind that I don’t ask this question on day one of our study of race. Rather, participants come to this conclusion after exploring the concept of White privilege and studying the history of race and racism in the United States through multiple sources and perspectives.)
“If that’s true,” I continue, “then who do you think is wearing the boot?” The participants’ answer (though it often only reluctantly hits the air): White people.
“If that’s true, then whose responsibility is it to stop the boot from squashing them? The people of Color already pushing upward and resisting the boot? Or the people wearing the boot–consciously or not–who contribute to a system that pushes downward?”
Everyone has a role in ending racism, but the analogy shows how little sense it makes for only those facing the heel-end of oppression to do all the work. It’s time for White America to take on a far bigger role in taking off the boot.