Why the Handshakes Matter: The Violence of Whiteness in the Classroom

Form Follows Function

There are a couple videos circulating right now of teachers greetings their students as they come in the door. One is of a Black male teacher, Barry White, in Charlotte, North Carolina greeting his nearly exclusively Black students. The other is of a white female teacher, Jerusha Willenborg in Wichita, Kansas doing the same with her class of nearly exclusively Black students.  One of these is much more positive than the other! One is the expression of a shared experience and a shared culture. One is not. One is, probably, a well-intentioned attempt at building relationships that ends up doing what so many other white teachers do, perpetuate whiteness through appropriation and only serves to further entrench white supremacy in our schools. .

So let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first. Nobody. Let me say that again, NOBODY is mad that Ms. Willenborg is trying to build…

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I’ve always heard the people parent the way they were parented. so people who have good grandparents have a leg up. 
Personally I believe that no matter how bad your parents are, each generation attempts to improve and most succeed. 

The thing is nobody starting off in the same place from the same standardized even starting point because it all depends on what your parents gave you.   

The other thought, there’s so many variables involved in parenting that even an individual parent isn’t starting from an even starting line.

Sunday posts, pics and tweets.

Fred Klonsky

12370787_1089811097726510_8027615324837016169_oChicago this week. Photo credit: Frank James Johnson.

If you haven’t signed the petition for save historic DuSable High School’s librarian position, you still can. Over 1,000 have signed it in the last 24 hours.


Retired LAUSD librarian Joan Kramer, a friend since my childhood, sent along this video that they made in 2010 as Los Angeles school libraries were being closed.





I actually wanted to begin on that theme by talking a bit about the inaccessibility of libraries, and I’m thinking about my own childhood, when I saw this incredible building in Birmingham, Alabama, made out of Indiana limestone. It was the Birmingham Public Library, but of course it was only for white peoples. The one black library that…

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For our children 

I wake and think of you and am thankful. The longest life is too short and we all have so many dreams. I wish you laughter in the face of dispair and courage in the face of opposition. I wish you special connections with special people that take your breath away and make you acknowlegde the divine. I wish you every simple pleasure and every complex thought. May your wings grow strong and support you as you soar to unimanged heights. May your roots grow stronger and support you against the trial and tribulations of life. May your voice be clear and strong as you express your hearts desire. May love and forgiveness – for yourself and others, be ever present that you may move ever forward.