On Feb. 15th, the Undergraduate Student Government Justice Now Speaker Series hosted Dr. Eddie Glaude, professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, to speak about “The Paradox of Education for Black & Brown Children.” In a riveting, eye-opening discussion moderated by Iyanna Crockett, a UConn student, Dr. Glaude discussed the influence of our education system on Black and Brown students. This discussion is part of a speaker series conducted by USG — the Justice Now Initiative — which hosts activists and intellectuals to highlight topics relating to culture and politics of Black people. Students had the opportunity to submit questions before the event for the Q&A portion through the Justice Now Initiative website, where the event was hosted.
Dr. Glaude recognized the damage COVID-19 has done to those already in poverty, as well as the damage done to our democracy on January 6, the storming of the Capitol. He described the storming by a mostly White mob and the recent acquisition of Donald Trump as a “racial reckoning.”
“One is compelled to say this society is a backwards society,” Dr. Glaude said. “This is what January 6th revealed, this is what this weekend revealed.”
Dr. Glaude used his analysis of texts such as “The Negro Child — His Self-Image” by James Baldwin to describe how our education system educates democracy and freedom in our country, whilst the inequalities in this system also discourage and deny Black and Brown students the same advantages.
“The purpose of education is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself or herself,” Dr. Glaude stated. He spoke about how Black and Brown students are denied critical skills to notice when things are not right in a democracy.
He also talked about the disparities in graduation rates between suburban and urban children and the importance of instating the right to education to children, no matter where they come from.
“Every child deserves to be viewed and understood as someone not only capable of learning but capable of thriving, capable of brilliance, capable of becoming whomever they aspire to be,” Dr. Glaude said. He stressed the importance of democracy even while our country is turning our back on it, and how education is a critical tool, but can be a detriment by reproducing hierarchy.
During the Q&A session, Dr. Glaude stressed the dangers of teaching Black history by idealizing figures and the dangers of heroism. He went into the importance of recognizing community organizations and the part they play in Black history. He believes in emphasizing the everyday, ordinary people to encompass a broader view of activism. Dr. Glaude also gave advice to Black and Brown UConn students regarding racial injustice and the symptoms of impostor syndrome they may face.
“This is a long distance race,” he said. “We need you to continue to prepare yourselves for the battles to come. These institutions are what they are, you do what you can within the short period that you’re there to transform them, to leave your imprint in the short time that you’re at these institutions.”
The next spokesperson for the USG Justice Now speaker series is Martin Luther King III, moderated by Rita Tonleu and scheduled for Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. He will be discussing “Race and Politics in America.” For more information, visit USG’s Instagram page, @usguconn.