Can education (truly) lead to discontinuation?

by Kennedi Munson

As The Social, Cultural, and Humanitarian Committee’s (SOCHUM) issue #1 of “addressing the increase of racial inequity during the COVID-19 pandemic” draws to a close, one begins to question when deliberation will lead to constructive action. When delegates’ remarks and resolutions will actually be implemented into the status quo, and how influential such resolutions will be, given the systemic relevance of racial issues – specifically within hegemonic countries such as the United States?

Despite it around 155 years since the “abolition of slavery”, black individuals are still fighting for their freedom in both the United States and around the globe. With the United States having leeways in their 13th Amendment, to instances of systemic racism in both their health care and prison system. To countries like England harassing their black players after their Euro 2020 penalty shot, it’s apparent that though slavery isn’t “as prevalent today”, characteristics of it can be perceptibly duplicated in a plethora of ways. Some delegates of SOCHUM understand this fact, as presented in the resolutions, and commentary they expressed towards one another during today’s debate. With dialogue ranging from the killing of George Floyd to questions and commentary surrounding how to adequately avoid and address issues such as his, it’s evident that a common topic of discussion revolved around the “what now?”

Now that we know racism is a thing around the globe, and now that we’ve addressed that it’s a notably bad thing, what can we do to permanently stop it?

A recurrent response to the question was the matter of education, specifically of police officers, and how it may aid in combating the widespread issue of police brutality. Within this dynamic, “education systems and educational institutions would play a vital role in helping to address and eliminate racism within these institutions”. With education systems taking the time to: create more racially integrated systems within institutions such as the police department, examining the institution from multiple perspectives (one of which being the history of the police department, and the other being implicit bias), it’s clear that from an educational perspective, society can ideally improve. As mentioned by the UN, “Education has a central role in creating new values and attitudes and provides us with important tools for addressing deep-rooted discrimination and the legacy of historical injustices”. Yet, even with this goal in mind, is education enough of a response to address institutions such as police departments that have historically been systemically racist? When the early roots of police departments date as back as slave patrols – people who would stop, question, and punish enslaved people caught without a permit to travel – can we really assume that with education, police officers will automatically change their way of thinking? It’s a distrustful way to look at the world, however, it’s worth acknowledging the concern many black individuals across the globe have during “solution conversations discussion slavery”, as “the manifestations of structural racism have become such a fixed, and omnipresent part of the educational landscape that it is hard for many of us to see them”.

At the end of the day, it’s beyond apparent that there’s no “ground-breaking, guaranteed fix” to systemic issues such as that of slavery. Though one can propose minimal resolutions such as education, and watching, or reading books centered around such topics, it’s clear that there isn’t just “one easy fix”. Collectively, society needs to learn, adapt, change, DISRUPT and ultimately CHALLENGE these institutionally racist systems, and then hopefully one day we may reach a better and brighter future.

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