BIPOC Teacher Life: Study Decries School System's ‘Smog of Cultural Racism’ and ‘Impenetrable Wall of Whiteness'

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Have you hit a whiteness wall?

Was it penetration-proof?

In the event your answers are Yes, some academics in Maine can relate.

Earlier this year, researcher and Bowdoin College education Professor Doris Santoro authored a report.


Doris had teamed with Alberto Morales — an English instructor at Casco Bay High School — and Rowe Elementary School 4th grade teacher Julia Hazel to interview molders of young skulls of mush.

Those questioned worked within the state’s largest school system, Portland Public Schools (PPS).

At issue: teachers’ perception of the district’s attempt at “equity.”

What the trio determined was something colorful — white, to be exact.

Per the paper — What Will It Take For Educators of Color to Thrive in PPS? — nearly half of PPS’s student body is “BIPOC” (Black, Indigenous, People of Color).

Detrimentally, only ten percent of teachers are nonwhite.

And the behavior of erasing, dismissive whites have frustrated minorities among them:

Some…educators’ of color backgrounds were dismissed by their White colleagues. They were disregarded as being people of color or immigrants. Some faced an erasure of their backgrounds that at once felt discriminatory (e.g., you don’t have an accent, so you can’t be an immigrant) and dismissive of the ways in which they could uniquely relate to and connect with the experiences of students and their families. … [T]he White colleagues’ reticence to recognize educators of color as such…resulted in a sense of frustration and alienation in those educators by reinforcing the dominance and desirability of whiteness.


Lighter-skinned staff have fingered anti-African antics:

A number of the interviewees with lighter skin tones also recognized anti-Blackness and how differently they were treated than their darker-skinned colleagues. Colorism and anti Blackness impact educators of color’s experiences of racism from colleagues, students, and their families. Black educators of color regularly were told by White women colleagues that they were frightening or threatening to students, especially at the elementary school level. These accusations were not based on observational evidence. This is a repetition of the trope of the frightening Black person who intimidates simply by their very presence.

From the sound of things, the white teachers are real goons.

As for the important attainment of equity, the district’s unfairly focused on students rather than faculty.

One interviewee lamented, “We’re always talking about equity for students, but there’s no equity for staff.”

In addition, courtesy of accents, institutional racism’s afoot:

The research…highlights how the impact of institutional and interpersonal racism for students and teachers are intertwined. For instance, a student (of any background) who has no teachers with accents may believe that individuals with various accents that differ from those of the surrounding area cannot be educators.


The report turned up a couple analogies to thriftily describe the experience of nonwhite teachers.

Put this in your pipe and smoke it:

Educators of color overwhelmingly described cultures, policies, and practices of White supremacy in which they struggle to survive, rather than thrive. These experiences of White supremacy are captured in two metaphors: an impenetrable wall of whiteness and the smog of cultural racism.

Judging by headlines as of late, whiteness has permeated the world.

And it stinks:

Professor Reveals List of America’s ‘Whitest Law Schools,’ Proposes an End to Testing to Eliminate ‘Excess Whiteness’

School District Hosts Year-Long Anti-Whiteness Training to Fight ‘Curricular Violence’ in Math

Woke to the Gills: Report Fillets Fish Management’s White Supremacy, Condemns Calling Fish Negative Names

Report: Professor Tells White Student if He’s Breathing, He ‘May Have Oppressed Somebody’ Today

Biden Plan Pushes ‘Antiracist’ Therapy for White Teachers, Fights the ‘Spirit-Murder’ of Nonwhites

Mental Health Journal’s Article on ‘Parasitic Whiteness’ Laments There’s ‘Not Yet a Permanent Cure’

Back to the report, Doris bemoans BIPOC school staff “are often treated with suspicion or viewed as outsiders.”


One example of belittling bigotry: a nonwhite teacher whose principal hasn’t spoken to her over 15 years of employment.

Such situations “feed back on [themselves] and perpetuate institutional racism.”

Racism is a terrible thing. If only there was no whiteness, it appears, there’d be no racism.

But how do we get rid of whiteness without getting rid of whites?

That’s a lot to figure out nationwide, but in Portland, it’s particularly problematic.

The past few years saw debate over building a wall.

In Maine, they’ve already constructed one.

And as it turns out, it’s made of melanin.



See more pieces from me:

University Librarian: It’s Transphobic to Say Lesbians Are Going Extinct

Doggone Discrimination: Academics Claim Bias Against Pit Bulls Is Racist

Fight Club: Flight Attendants Take Self-Defense Courses to Deal With Problematic Passengers

Find all my RedState work here.

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