NOT ALL MEN!
There. I said it so you don’t have to. Yes, there are probably some men who list intersectional feminism among their competencies but I have not been dealing with those men lately and whoa nelly. There are some guys out there who are just awful.
Let me explain. I live in a big, diverse county with approximately a gazillion schools. The schools are all basically good but there are clusters of poverty, clusters of lower achievement, and clusters of different racial groups. Conversely there are clusters of wealth, clusters of high achievement, and clusters of one particular racial group that thinks it’s the best racial group. We also have some school with way too many students and some schools with empty seats.
No one has done a comprehensive analysis of the situation since the 1980s.
Today, the county wants to do such an assessment and redraw school boundaries with consideration given to diversity as well as raw population numbers. And OH MY GOD the rich white men are acting like the sky is falling on their rich white heads.
I joined two facebook groups to talk about this process and got kicked out of one in under 12 hours. No, I didn’t call anyone racist, thanks for asking. I simply reacted to reports about a meeting where parents yelled at a presenter and booed a middle school student. I made the controversial assertion that adults should never boo 8th graders, nor should they hijack someone else’s meeting.
I’m such a rebel.
The other group is better but still. There is a notable contingent of people who are absolutely certain this process will end with 70s era busing that takes their kids out of their neighborhood schools and sends them on long bus commutes across the county to the schools in less wealthy clusters.
Everyone that I have encountered in this contingent is a white man.
The group is filled with other people too, people with expertise, experiential knowledge, visionary ideas. Collectively, there is a deep well of understanding of the complexity of educating million of students of diverse backgrounds living across a region of hundreds of square miles. People are sharing articles and studies, ideas and recollections, current and former students are weighing in, teachers are explaining their position. It’s amazing.
Then in the comment section there is always some white guy screaming that none of that matters because they don’t want their kid on a bus to a less-prestigious school.
And don’t even get me started on the ways they have tried to shout down a few women of color who have posted information about what privilege in general and white privilege in particular look like in practice. They do not like hearing that their mindset could prevent non-white families from gaining equity in our school district.
So to these men, men who are otherwise probably pretty progressive, men who might happily call themselves feminist in other circumstances, to them I say this: BRO. This is not about you.
That goes for any women who are doing this as well but I haven’t tangled with them in the comments.
Educational equity is where the intersectional rubber meets the white supremacy road. This is where we fix stuff for the next generations. That is not news. Education reformers all know this. But somehow these men missed that memo and they are acting like education is just about their kids.
It is not. Education is about all the kids. Every single one.
These people are so committed to protecting their interests of their families – and only their families – that they are doing everything in their power to stop the assessment from taking place. They aren’t even willing to discuss a possibility of change if they can’t benefit from it. It’s all really quite breathtaking in its arrogance.
So now I know what my main act of intersectional feminism for 2020 has to be: standing shoulder to shoulder with others in my community at the intersection of race, gender and socioeconomics to make sure that everyone gets their chance to be heard.
Will this benefit my kids? It sure as fuck will. They might wind up on a bus across town at the end of it but the place they’ll be going will be fairer and more intersectional than they would get otherwise.