This a guest post from JuJuBe
I am a 36 year old disabled woman who has been variously labelled"fat", "crazy", and "a hippy weirdo." I now try to embrace labels that others use in an attempt to "shame" me into being someone more "acceptable". I am passionate about issues of race/racism, criminal(in)justice, fat acceptance, and mental health advocacy. I have just started blogging, and am still trying to find my voice.
An Ann Arbor elementary school recently took the "Lunch Bunch", an academic peer support group, on a field trip to the University of Michigan to listen to a rocket scientist speak. The purpose of the trip was to encourage the students to consider science and engineering as future careers. When the children returned from their trip, they were met by "boos" from other students. The "Lunch Bunch" was then disbanded. The reason? Because all of the students were Black. The trip was considered a violation on Michigan's proposal 2, which bans any form of racial preference in education. It is, to me, a crock of shit!
The "Lunch Bunch" was a group founded to bridge the race gap in education. Its purpose is to improve test scores and academic performance for Black students. However, ALL students are welcome to join the group. Thus far, all of the students in the "Lunch Bunch" are Black. The rocket scientist they went to see speak was a Black scientist. The school did not pay for the field trip. The only cost was for a bus, and that was paid for by a donation. So, what is the problem??
The "Lunch Bunch" peer support group is a great idea. Any group that encourages children to excel in academics is a positive thing, and very much needed in our schools. Identifying particular students who can benefit from such a program seems to me to be a good thing, something that should be encouraged, not banned. Children have a choice to join the group. The fact that only Black students have chosen to join the "Lunch Bunch" does not indicate that they are given preferential treatment. If a white student had chosen to belong to the "Lunch Bunch" he would have been invited to participate in the field trip. It seems like white people want to remain segregated when it suits their own desires/purposes, but all of a sudden, when they think they are "missing out" on something, they whine and complain about preferential treatment, which THEY have been benefiting from for centuries.
Those who possess any form of privilege will do whatever they can to keep themselves on top of the heap. By decrying any form of program designed to ameliorate the effects of racism, they are just proving how badly such programs are needed. When it suits them, those with privilege want nothing to do with those who they feel are "beneath" them. But, the second they see the "other" guy doing something to affect change in the status quo, they not only want to participate in the activity, but they want to hijack it, and totally defeat the purpose for which the program was established.
White people were OK with race based preferences when they were the beneficiaries. But when affirmative action was established to counter centuries of racism and exclusion, all of a sudden white people began screaming about "preferential treatment" being unfair. So, according to this logic, preferences are OK if they help out white men, but evil if they benefit anyone else. It is interesting to see how people who have built a whole system based on oppression cry that they are BEING oppressed at the slightest inkling of change.