Over the last week folks have raised their voices (again) to speak out against police murdering and the systemic oppression of Black folks (again). We seem to have a few more white people joining the party this time but plenty are still MIA. Some are clearly in charge of social media at companies sharing their corporate platitudes in lieu of commiting actual cash and real action. No fear though, people are out there doing the good work of calling them out for their tonedeafness.
Black folks, you probably know what I'm about to talk about so if you want to read, feel free. The edtech community has shown in the last week (and even before that) that we are a community that needs to clean our house. We started out with Alice Keeler sharing a since removed tweet giving away books and masks with her logo to anyone who signed up on her mailing list.
Feedback from her followers, friends, and colleagues was nearly unanimous. They let her know this was in poor taste and she should probably rethink the promotion being that Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted Black and Latinx communities and profiting off it as a white educator is probably not the best idea.
But Keeler stood by her decision for a couple of days at least and chose to block folks who disagreed with her marketing choices. She has since taken down the tweet and has an apology pinned to her profile.
Keep in mind, walking away from a conversation or from what you perceive as people being mean to you is peak white privilege. Alas, this was just the beginning as yesterday, former EdTechTeam employees who are folks of color shared their stories of abuse and mistreatment.
Sadly, this isn't new to the edtech community. Remember the all white ISTE panel?
Fellow ADE (Apple Distinguished Educator) Ben Kovacs shared an idea to use the #AppleEduChat twitter chats to address #BlackLivesMatter. I think that's a good idea. However, I also think we have to address the failings in our own community. Out of nearly 1,000 ADEs in the United States about 20 are Black. How can we talk about Black lives mattering when we don't even include them in our community and no one white has said anything about that or even noticed?
I shared this sentiment on Twitter and as of now it's gotten pretty much no engagement.
I even had a suggestion for action after Ken and Jennie shared their experiences at EdTechTeam.
Again, nothing. So I thought maybe all these disparate instances needed to be compiled in one place so we can see that these are not isolated incidents. This is the culture of edtech which is predominantly made up of affluent white folks.
Let's talk actions:
Orgs should cease doing business with EdTechTeam
ISTE, CUE, Notability, Showbie, and EdSurge are just a few orgs who follow EdTechTeam on Twitter. Beyond that I'm not sure what their business dealings are, but I'd like to hear them publicly address their affiliations and commit to not doing future business with them.
Amplify the voices of the oppressed and support them by not supporting places like EdTechTeam
EdTechTeam still has 80.1K followers many of whom are members of the edtech community. Take a look and see if you still follow them https://twitter.com/edtechteam. If you do, unfollow and reshare Jennie and Ken's tweets and follow them instead. Look for other Black and marginalized voices you can share.
Address the unacceptable behavior in our own community
White folks, learn about and recognize our own tendencies to shut down the conversation
Come on, you guys, be nice. That tends to be our reaction. We want to pacify what we perceive as fighting. We want to reinstate that white equilibrium. We do this by saying people are being mean or calling for people to be kind and show love. One way you can be kind and show love for your community is by refusing to tolerate behavior detrimental to it's Black community members. Warning: White folks will get upset. They'll feel attacked and picked on. Nope, that's not the case. You're being faced with your own implicit biases and racist tendencies and it's uncomfortable. I've been there.
I was part of a Facebook group years ago. In a discussion about race, a Black woman said something and I (hurtfully, I understand now) told her that if she wanted people to hear her message she shouldn't be so rude (I bet most white folks have made that mistake). The other folks on the thread came down on me hard and I left that group. It's something I regret.
It needs to be said again: Being able to leave a conversation or shut off social media is a privilege. Black folks don't get to just turn off The Amazing Racism.
For a LONG time I thought I was justified in leaving and there was no magic a-ha moment. It was years of learning and listening before I came to better understand (as a white person I will never fully understand) the pain, hurt, and anger of Black folks asking for help and being unheard for generations. I would never go to someone who lost their mother and tell them not to be angry or that it's not that bad. I have no place telling a Black person how to grieve their pain and frustration. Doing so is called tone policing and we have to stop doing it.
White folks, don't make it about you; shut it and listen
I'm sharing the previous story so you can see I've been where you might be. I've had my own growth, but don't get it twisted. This isn't about me. This isn't about us as white folks. This is about getting out of the way and using our privilege and position to open the door for Black folks and other POC.
Side note: Don't us people of color all the time. Some issues are specific to Black folks (capital B) like them being murdered by cops who then get away with it.
You've been asked to speak at a conference?
Who are 3 Black folks you can recommend in your place?
Notice a panel is lacking Latinx folks? Who are the people you call on to join in?
Share calls for presenters in Black spaces and with Black people.
In the words of a wonderful Black technologist...