Reverse Racism, Descriptive representation and Joe v. Margret
(I'm sorry if this is long, my real journal entry is longer).
I wrote my post this week on chapter 3 of the book our class is reading Teaching for Social Justice by Connie North. In one of the chapters one of the characters, Joe, acquires his social studies gig as a teacher and it is clear that he would not have gotten it if he wasn’t a minority. The district didn’t want a “blond, blue-eyed woman” despite the fact that she had masters in African American history and Joe did not. The idea of reverse racism is a prevalent one these days as I have heard some of my friends wonder if they actually have to fight harder because they are white, and some councilors joke about how colleges need minority students so that can make it more likely that a student who is a minority will be accepted into a school of their choice. I’m not sure where I stand with this issue. I am a political science major and last semester we talked about descriptive and substantive representation. In the first, constituents want their politician to not only stand up for their beliefs but also look like them, and in substantive constituents also want a representative who will advocate for their best interests, but the person doesn’t have to look like them.
Both approaches have many merits; one state that it does not matter what a person looks like as long as they can fight for them, the other argues that in order to truly fight for the region, the person must look like the people there. This relates to one of the other teacher’s worries about how a white middle class woman can teach about racism in a classroom full of African American and Hispanic students. I wonder if it’s going backwards to state that just because someone doesn’t look like a group of people that person can’t do a great job of advocating for them. Yet, the issue of power, having role models that look like you and the realities of discrimination, racism, and how those two effect one’s way of living in ways others can only sympathize with is a powerful one. The past still has ramifications on today and we are still not equal enough that we can afford to be colorblind. This does not give anyone the right to be racist, but it does mean that if the world is still run by white males, not matter how well meaning, the world will not be able to change because certain voices will be present. I don’t know why that is, I just know that it’s true. Historians always analyze who is present, but more importantly, who is not, and in America, there aren’t that many women or minorities present in places of power and this means something. What it means, I’m not sure of, but I really think it means something.