CI 578: Dr. Ladson-Billings

How did you come to this work and how did you come to view this as important – what are essential issues for education of Blacks today?
Norman Rockwell painting is an emblem of education of blacks.
My dad went through 3 years of grade school when there were only 4 months of school for Black children.
My mom had a decent education, and when she migrated to Philadelphia she did have a better education – a high school diploma.
My dad was incredibly smart – he could read – he didn’;t have any credentials. I was always fascinated with what it means to be an educated person.
You are shaped by personal
Emmet Till, was a 14 year old Chicago boy to go to visit relatives – he shared with his cousin and friends that he went to school with white children. the kids thought they were lying – he had an array of photos of classmates – and he said one of the white girls was his girlfriend (1954). The kids said, if you talk to white girls – you go talk to those white women… and he said,”Bye baby” to the white woman. That statement got him killed – the white owner of the store, and a friend – went to the home – shot him, mutilated his body, and then threw him in the creek. He had a ring, and that was the only way to know it was him. His mother said, we will have an open casket – people said, why are you doing it – she said, i want the world to see what they did to my baby. 
I was 7 years old.
I did not venture south until i was 25.
They would send me to NY with my great aunt.
If you look at the series of events when I was growing up – 
I went off to college in 1965, and in February Malcom X was killed, MLK in 68, RFK in 68.

My love affair with theory – was when I was a graduate student.
One of the things I wanted to do is theorize this thing called race.
William Tate is how I fell into Critical Race Theory – Tate was married to a lawyer, and read a lot of law stuff – and she was the first one to introduce us to Kimberly Crenshaw. Critical Race Theory was developed in law in UW-Madison.
What is CRT and why is it in education? Please read the tough stuff… when I checked the emails today – I received an email about wanting to do the right thing — when learning about CRT. Read the law articles… 
When I wrote a law article – it was about education (North Carolina Law Review)… I gave the talk – can we please have Plessey – I would rather have Plessey than a fake brown — 
The sky is blue and they will check every fact — who told you that?
What really drew me to CRT is that you can be — you can break boundaries – you can be intellectually playful – it was not formulated the same way as everything else… I found a theoretical perspective that showed stories were important – that you can use imagination – Hudland Brothers – Cosmic Slop — you could really speculate it.
The one book I really love – is are we not saved?

What part of South Carolina?
Dillon County, and the city. I was called to be an expert witness in the SC case — 8 counties being sued with district equality. It wasn’t just the rich districts – $10,000 differential between districts – and board certified – the case would be heard in Columbia in the capitol – the firm included… (name of firm: Reilly) they heard the case in Claredon county – same room… as Brown, etc. It was amazing to be in the same room as where the Brown case took place. The first thing was to discredit you – I had done a deposition first – I had the state attorney come and try to discredit me – by having it about class and not race. Who is William Ayers and what is your relationship to him? She said, you should ask the man next to you – he works with him every day. I had my own emails supeonad – death threats, etc. If this case would have gotten to trial – I said to the judge – I do a lot about race – and it went hand in hand… I said to the judge, “I am not from SC, other than visiting these schools – however – if my own father was permitted to go to school – The judge decided it was enough for me… It is amazing how much money is spent in law… I was mad at the guy… I was proud of the fact — the way the case is heard… they schedule them – there were not many people in the courtroom themselves – the first day was an accountant… when I did get off the stands – there were some elderly African-Americans – and they said, “we wanted to come to the courthouse, and were grateful it was you…” One of the challenges of testimony – is … leave all the academic stuff alone, trust the lawyers… shared story of equity – even if the schools think they are doing the right thing – they could still not being equitable… My daughter in 6th grade – they were doing math cognitive problems – one of the tasks was to make the toothpick bridge – it can still be inequitable – gave all the kids with 100 toothpicks — if you do not have a hot glue gun you cannot make a toothprick bridge… I am not someone who does crafts – my daughter asked me to get a glue gun – and it is HOT… I am a middle income parent who can do that – I can see how much it costs – she had classmates who lived in areas that they had to go home and close the door – if those kids asked for a glue gun – it would have to wait till pay day… Not everyone can make a prototype – the parents may have access to resources – the test of the bridge is to hold your math book – all 3 of us were working on this bridge – the daughter needed to go to bed to get on the bus – and my husband said – no, you are not going on this bus — made it safe in the car to drive it to school — even if you think you are doing the right thing — you have to bring it to the notice of the teachers… you are trying to teach the kids – but it was inequitable… When I got to court – they had built a toothprick bridge – and a powerpoint with a picture of a toothprick bridge — with the bridge to nowhere… 

Law is a fascinating subject…

In AERA I gave a discussion about landing on the wrong foot – talking about Brown – we pay the price for accepting Brown… I was at teh Center for Advanced Studies – and my cohort colleagues — in law – said, the law cannot do anything… the others were panicked but — the law does not need to get activated until you have to use it… There are laws that exist that have not been activated… California laws… 209, 227… 163 Proposition – making English the official language passed – what does it mean? No one knows what it means – until someone brings a case. Does the state name need to be changes? street names? city names? Brown is on the books – and there have been cases – but I thought — I thought it would be happening… 

Question: Chronicle to sacrifice Black children
Chronicle to sacrifice Black Children Part 2. Urban Redevelopment and revitalization in the cities – the school is always teh stumbling block – you can blow up all the housing projects – but what you bring back is not moderate housing – Urban Projects live in amazing places – the stumbling block is usually the school – the city fathers and mothers have to think about everything – they have a plan for housing, a plan for zoning — you do not have a plan for schools — instead, they add stringent policies – lots of choice, lots of ways to opt out of system – I inserted it in an article – everything has happened in a particular city.

About New Orleans…
It is absolutely horrible… I am telling you… the volume we did for AERA. The old man and the storm — our connection to that – is one of his daughters lived in Madison – when you watch it you get so angry…

Brown was an international policy — it was about putting things into place – it was a foreign policy. What it did for us was minimal… 50th anniversary – all of the authors said Brown was good… and Derrick Bell said, no… it wasn’t good.

Diana Hess – social studies educator – has done work with Supreme Court – one of the questions she has asked – out of all the cases, which one should all kids know about – they say: Brown.  Brown is a very revered piece of Americana – for me to speak against Brown is sacreligious – it came at a cost. Those black teachers knew they would lose their jobs – 38,000 jobs were lost and that did not include administrators – MS was impacted with no black teachers.

Talk at Chapel Hill, many years before – African American adults who left their segregated schools and went to integrate into the other schools. One of the things that happened – was we just came, but our history did not come with us… the teachers did not come, no trophies, nothing that we had done migrated to this place. They talked about how lonely the experience had been. 

My own undergraduates – my folks are going to be teachers… I use children and young adult literature – one of the books they are going to read is New Boy – it is about a kid who gets selected to go up to Conneticut  – and he is ambivilant to being there…

Question: There is more than just Black and white – how do you see things changing in Critical Race Theory?
Conceptual Blackness, and Conceptual Whiteness — these are shifting and changing — you do not have to have this colour skin to have conceptual blackness… it does not matter what colour those people are on Jerry Springer… On the other end – Barack Obama is being constructed… This is why Michelle is such a problem – he done married a black woman – these tensions… Hip-hop culture is a way to show the shifting — it has to do with the embodiment of what is Black and White — I went to Ghana and I was at a rural school way out in the country – and I was reading with a little girl on my lap, and she said, “you are a nice White lady…” and she thought… I went out to my roots and they rejected me… then, I thought – I traveled 6000 miles – I had the money to be there — the Whiteness – the Whiteness… White is a state of mind – (James Baldwin). It has become more apparent now… the person who opened my mind (Sylvia Winter) Sylvia said something (1980), Well, you know – OJ Simpson is a White man… because these things that we call race, class and gender are imaginary social indications – they mean what we want them to mean – because OJ has these things we will forgive the one thing he does not have… When all the craziness jumped off… and I called Syvlia, and I said, Are you watching this stuff… she said, “it is absolutely fascinating… it is marvelous… The thing that OJ did was betray the honorary Whiteness…. there was something about it…” There was a betrayal… Michael Jordan – it is not about Michael’s skin colour – he was conceptualized as White – 

This thing called race is very problematic — the binary for me is… when you think about a continuum – everyone else gets lined up on the continuum – we will put people closer to Conceptual Whiteness or Conceptual Whiteness… Latinos are Conceptually Black, and Asians are Conceptually White… these things are not static — Eminem is with Blackness – not Whiteness – it is hard to get your mind around when you think – this is white – this is black…

Gregory Howard – Life on the Colour Line