#educolor – The most important hashtag you’re probably not following

educolor.org

Two years ago this fall, Jose Vilson launched EduColor. It’s a website, it’s a hashtag, it’s an email newsletter, it’s a weekly chat, it’s a call for social justice. Most of all, as he and the other organizers say, it’s ‘a movement, not a moment.’

Many of us haven’t paid too much attention to EduColor. Maybe it’s because we’ve never heard of it (now you have). But maybe it’s because we don’t recognize the privilege that allows us to not feel any urgency to attend to the needs of our colleagues of color. Maybe it’s because we’re too focused on our own thing to worry about that other thing over there. Or, honestly, maybe it’s because talk about racial and other inequities makes us uncomfortable and we don’t know how to effectively participate and be of support.

It doesn’t take much effort to sign up for the twice-per-month EduColor newsletter and follow the #educolor hashtag. And, at a very minimum, we should do those two things. Not because of social justice hectoring or out of some sense of privileged guilt or because we think it makes us look good but because the resources that are being shared and the conversations that are being held are IMPORTANT. In a nation that soon will be ‘majority minority’ but definitely has a long way to go toward equity, all of us need to be more aware and more action-oriented regarding the concerns of our friends, neighbors, students, and educators of color. Yes, some of the things that we read may make us uncomfortable. But you know what? As Jose says, being uncomfortable needs to become our new comfortable. How are we going to meet the needs of all of our children if we can’t put uncomfortable topics on the table and discuss them? How are we going to remedy the ongoing racial disparities in resource allocation, school resegregation, negative media, disciplinary punishments, achievement gaps, instructional neglect, college and career readiness, digital equity, and many other educational areas if we’re not willing to face them head on with the awareness, humility, regret, and courage that they deserve?

The historical legacies of racism continue to linger large today and they manifest themselves on numerous ongoing fronts when it comes to schools, teachers, and students. EduColor is a good place to start thinking more deeply about these issues. You will meet some new people and, more importantly, you will probably learn something and might even be energized to take productive action. Head on over there and sign up. And send your colleagues and students there too. It will only take a moment. (and you might be inspired toward movement)

7 Responses to “#educolor – The most important hashtag you’re probably not following”

  1. I sincerely appreciate this recognition of the #EduColor movement, and the encouragement you’ve provided to your readers to follow and/or engage. I would also strongly encourage folks to honor the “Guidelines for Using the #EduColor Hashtag” (http://ow.ly/KV9F301D2Ci) as they begin, and to understand #EduColor’s “Guiding Principles” (http://ow.ly/JrIi301D2EE) as they reflect on how to position themselves in #EduColor dialogue.*

    But for what it’s worth, I also think it’s worth reflecting on the ways diversity, identity, equity, inclusion, and justice are often and problematically constructed in education discourse. Here, for example, I see you using “we” and “us” to refer to a readership that I can only assume to be primarily white: those pronouns are posited in distinction to “the needs of *our* colleagues of color.” Similarly, while I think you’re spot-on in your perception that white educators frequently think of the systems and subjects on which #EduColor focuses as “that thing over there” (e.g., outside the scope of our priority roles or responsibilities) framing it that way also, inadvertently, and ironically perpetuates a belief that these are, and should essentially remain, “the concerns of our friends, neighbors, students, and educators of color.”

    I think the challenge for us both is to invite white educators to understand these issues not only in a spirit of sympathy or act of passive solidarity with colleagues of color, but also and more actively as *our* concerns; *our* responsibilities; *our* moral, ethical, and professional obligations to and for all of the children whose education is entrusted to us. To accept that none of “us” can reasonably claim to be effective in our teaching, our tech, our leadership, or any other role in the education space — with white students, or with students of color — until and *unless* #EduColor focal points are matters “we’re…willing to face head on” — not only as ideas impacting “others,” but as systems in which “we” are personally and directly complicit, from which “we” benefit, and which “we” need to address in “our own thing.”

    I believe that’s implied in your post, and the intention of this important invitation to your readers to follow and engage with #EduColor — I just felt compelled to (re)name a couple of these things in support of that approach.

    Gratefully

    @ChrisThinnes

    * [w/apologies if I didn’t code those links correctly in the comments box]

    • Hi Chris, thanks for the wonderful comment.

      Sadly, because the vast majority of my readership comes from either the educational technology world or the school leadership world, I think I’m fairly safe assuming that my audience is still primarily white. Thus my framing of this post.

      I appreciate the additional thinking around how I worded this post. How we use language is important. I’ll keep practicing. 🙂

      • I hear you, Scott — and I appreciate your engagement and response. There are many complex tensions to navigate — how to acknowledge and attend to the majority composition of your audience; how to be inclusive of diverse identities while strategically addressing white educators but not alienating educators of color; how to honor #EduColor’s prioritization of the voices of educators of color in this discourse; how not only to elicit the right balance of interest and agency from other white educators, but to demonstrate it; and more. I wrestle with these as well, appreciate your leaning into it, and promise I’ll keep practicing, too. 🙂

        Gratefully

        @ChrisThinnes

  2. Hi Chris and Scott,

    Thank you both for engaging in this meaningful conversation regarding diversity and allocation of resources and support in education. I particularly appreciated the inclusion of #educolor guidelines to help insure the appropriate representation of the movement toward equity and inclusion. Chris, this acknowledgement correctly identifies the importance of pausing to critically examine our own roles in working toward justice. Doing so not only challenges us to engage in authentic assessments of our personal biases, but also to strive for long-term advocacy.

    Scott, I do believe you can use the resources and hashtag of #educolor for your white colleagues to deeply address issues of racial intersectionality. However, as a woman of color and audience of your blog, some of your intentional phrasing to distinguish the “us” vs “them” can perpetuate a sense of divide that #educolor seeks to educate and eradicate. I ultimately appreciate your acknowledgement and, like you, was moved to respond and further my commitment to remain actively engaged in advocacy.

    Thank you for sharing,

    Karena

  3. I see nothing but white liberals who use this topic as a political tool. I really wish there was something new in this talk but it’s the same “blame white male” thinking every time. NOTHING NEW.

    We get lectures from primarily white liberals who talk about “everyone” needing to be open to another way of thinking but this seems to never include their own beliefs being put aside.

    If you are serious about the topic and REALLY care about minorities as something other than a “pet” for you to look over for as if they can’t do it on themselves than be an adult and discuss the ENTIRE issue.

    Where are the black fathers? Whose fault is it that they are not around? What happened to the black family structure? Why are blacks committing more crimes than other races?
    What percent of blame is to be placed on society vs. the individual for committing crime, being in poverty, etc?

    I expect this comment to be ignored or knee jerk labeled as racist but I ask that you go back to think about being open to ALL ideas that you are lecturing everyone else to do and try it yourself. This is a major part of the conversation.

  4. I also see just a lot of hand wringing and “Hey everyone, look how tolerant and nonracis I am” in all this.

    What are specific examples of racism taking place? Name them, tackle them one at a time or it’s just hand wringing and whining and even worse teaching kids to be like and think like victims.

  5. In response to comment #5…It appears that the topic that was seemingly posted to allow for culturally responsive growth. You have noted that fathers aren’t around etc…in which the site is trying to reduce. America knows that where there is economic despair there is crime/illness/poverty/disenfranchised etc. America also knows that GAPS that exist in housing/student achievement/careers/community etc. are most often the result of past/present and future systemic racism that clearly raises its head in jails/schools/hiring/firing/community/access etc. Of course committing a crime is a choice! Research also says CHOICE is the biggest motivator in human behavior. There are not many choices in marginalized communities…but we are sending people to the moon! It’s exhausting to continue to read stereotypical comments on any and every post that is on the World Wide Web! Knowing USA’s history, one should be able to comprehend the fallout effects that have continued to harm people of color. Did you know/realize that many in management do not want to hire Negros or too many Negros? Why do wealthy schools get the most resources? Why do “black schools ” not receive equal access to resources? Is it because they made bad choices? Why are jails predominantly black? Why doesn’t writer #5 understand this? It seems you might be privileged enough to not have to worry about USA’s history and it’s affects…

    Again, it’s exhausting even as a man of color with 3 different degrees to have to hear this as I have lived in marginalized communities and barely made it where I am & barely hanging on. Lots of overt/covert racism to sift through on a daily basis on top of my marginalized communities given less options/choices to advance and some w/in fall apart…Many times due to bias/bigotry and racism as the seed. Chill out #5 and try to learn something vs frustrating readers/listeners of color. Yesterday, I watched a group of Trump supporters gather and shout Hail Trump! Could not believe what I was seeing! Yesterday!

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