Tag Archives: Seattle

Unsafe In Seattle

By Guest Contributor Sonita Moss

I don’t feel safe in Seattle.

Specifically, I don’t feel safe in public.

I love this city. Its many neighborhoods, the “little” big city vibe with a more laid-back pace of life. The expansive mountain ranges and views of ocean waters. Housing so dense it is seemingly stacked on hill after hill of pavement and grass. The skyline at dusk and twilight, travelling both north and south on the I-5. It is unrushed and easy, yet there is some nameless vibrance to this place.

Of course, I’ve been here just shy of 8 weeks.

I’m still a rookie, but I am a maverick of emotion. I don’t feel safe here.

The dueling intersections of my social identities: race, class, gender & age have forged a path of extremely unpleasant, unwelcome events at a rate that I have never experienced in my entire life. Here are the facts, the need-to-know-to-get-it information:

I am black. I am a young woman in my early 20s, but I am frequently presumed to be younger. This is important. I am living below the poverty line.

That is a recipe for disaster.
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Excerpt: The Stranger On White Privilege In Seattle

White people in Seattle are more likely to own rather than rent. White people are more likely to have health insurance and a job. White people are more likely to live longer. White people are less likely to be homeless. White people are less likely to hit the poverty level. White people are less likely to be in jail. White kids are nine times less likely than African Americans to be suspended from elementary school (in high school, it’s four times higher; in middle school, it’s five times, according to the district’s data). Nonwhite high-school graduation rates in Seattle are significantly below white graduation rates—even if you’re Asian, regardless of income level.

And then there’s the white Seattle police officer beating “the Mexican piss” out of a guy. The white Seattle police officer punching a 17-year-old African American girl in the face. The Seattle Police Guild newspaper editorial that called race-and-social-justice training classes “the enemy,” “socialist,” and anti-American.

Not that racial experience is monolithic. It’s not black and white. But it’s real. And across all measurable strata, white people in Seattle have it better.

Yet nobody is racist.

The 2010 US Census data led to reports of Seattle being the fifth whitest city in the country—reinforcing the perception of this place as a white place. But if you look at the actual numbers, 66 percent of people in Seattle identify as white, which means that one in three people are not white. That’s not a white city. It only seems like a white city when you’re in, say, Ballard or Wallingford or Fremont. If you walk the street expecting every third person you see not to be white, well, then you’ll see how weird it is to be in Ballard or Wallingford or Fremont, where almost everyone is white. If you walk the street in Rainier Valley, the opposite is true.

“In Seattle, there’s really a small amount that you have to do to be labeled a hero of diversity,” says Eddie Moore Jr., the Bush School’s outgoing director of diversity, who describes Seattle as “a segregated pattern of existence.”

He adds, “It’s just that there’s really no real challenge to how the structure in Seattle continues to assist whiteness and white male dominance in particular. When you say ‘white supremacy’ or ‘white privilege’ in Seattle, people still think you’re talking about the Klan. There’s really no skills being developed to shift the conversation. How can we be acknowledged to be so progressive, yet be identified to be so white? I wish that’s the question more Seattleites were asking themselves.”
– From “Deeply Embarrassed White People Talk Awkwardly About Race,” by Jen Graves

Time Traveling in Seattle: Digital Futures, Racial Pasts

by Latoya Peterson

Last weekend, I keynoted at the Washington State Association for Multicultural Education. I was asked to talk a bit about the role of technology in the classroom and multicultural education. They asked what educators should know about how technology impacts the classroom.

After thinking on it, I decided on the core message for the talk: a lot of the issues in technology are the same old problems, wrapped in new packaging.

I opened with a discussion of the changing nature of technology and how it influences children, and then explain how some people are still locked out. Here is the slide deck from the talk:

I’ll be adding rough notes to go along with it soon.

Since I tell a lot of stories in the talk, consider the deck to be a rough outline.

After that, I hosted a break out session on video games and teaching, here are the slides from that:

And created a monster resources page, which is still in process.

The presentation went over well, as both people comfortable and uncomfortable with technology found out new and interesting ways to think about how we discuss and frame technology, and why more people aren’t fully participating in the digital revolution. But the really interesting things started to happen after the talk was complete, and I was given a racial landmark tour of Seattle. Continue reading