More Study Advised

I just read your Independent interview with school board candidate Brian Campbell. I think it’s a mistake to say, “Race is not the issue.” While race is a fallacy physically, it is the insidious manner by which the U.S. has framed/boxed people into castes — denying some the full freedom to develop, individuate, and pursue success based on skin color.

It is insidious because we have concretized the idea that skin color runs deeper than skin and have created a society where some of us have to be conscious of our skin color while others do not. When looking upon oneself means acknowledging one’s self, one’s skin color, and how that skin color is seen with contempt, to say that “race’ has no effect on learning is assuming you have the wisdom from an experience you have not had, if you are white. You do not have all the answers, especially when it comes to this issue.

Economic disparity is a huge factor in educational success, but it is also a consequence of systemic racism. Until we create an economy that works for everyone, education and learning will continue to go to those with resources, including the intangible ones Campbell does not mention in interview: a sense of belonging and acceptance. These do not magically appear when you own a cell phone.

I applaud all that Campbell does for his kids, but his confidence and assurance comes from not questioning his place in society. Not everyone feels that confidence because not everyone is given that place from the start.

Before he assumes he knows all there is to know or dismiss so quickly what it means to be relegated to the lower castes in America, labels that determine your status based on skin color, Campbell should exercise humility, listen to others who may know more about this experience, and educate himself continually.

I suggest reading Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, Self-Portrait in Black and White by Thomas Chatterton Williams, and Spirit Run by Noe Álvarez.

As it stands, the interview did not convince me that Campbell is the right candidate for this job as it requires more insight and wisdom about what it means to be a fully accepted and welcomed member of this society. Working in education means presenting a commitment to lifelong learning that doesn’t avoid the uncomfortable ideas and issues. I suggest Campbell dive into the issue of race or caste in America if he expects to be taken seriously as a school board candidate.

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