Friday, December 12, 2014

How to Improve Discussion of Race in the Classroom

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 12th, 2014



The grand juries’ decisions not to indict white police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner bore all the hallmarks of sensitive topics that, to keep the peace, should be discussed only in private, or in small groups of people who share the same race and politics.
I don’t have that luxury. I teach criminal procedure to a racially mixed group of law students. Early in the semester we had discussed the constitutional requirements for the use of deadly force by the police. Coming into class the day after the Ferguson decision was announced, I knew we needed to talk.
I also wanted to talk. Though segregation is no longer required by law, too many Americans nevertheless grew up in segregated neighborhoods and attended segregated schools. A 2013 study by the Public Religion Research Institute revealed many whites’ social networks to be overwhelmingly—more than 90 percent—white. Giving in to the temptation to avoid all talk of race is a mistake because it helps perpetuate those divides.

The grand juries’ decisions not to indict white police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner bore all the hallmarks of sensitive topics that, to keep the peace, should be discussed only in private, or in small groups of people who share the same race and politics.
I don’t have that luxury. I teach criminal procedure to a racially mixed group of law students. Early in the semester we had discussed the constitutional requirements for the use of deadly force by the police. Coming into class the day after the Ferguson decision was announced, I knew we needed to talk.
I also wanted to talk. Though segregation is no longer required by law, too many Americans nevertheless grew up in segregated neighborhoods and attended segregated schools. A 2013 study by the Public Religion Research Institute revealed many whites’ social networks to be overwhelmingly—more than 90 percent—white. Giving in to the temptation to avoid all talk of race is a mistake because it helps perpetuate those divides.
- See more at: http://chronicle.com/article/How-to-Improve-Discussion-of/150857/?cid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en#sthash.QPs8ii9b.dpuf

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