I would like to start by expressing that this is simply my reflection on things I’ve seen recently surrounding the movement. I will also give the spoiler alert that I hope this causes you to rethink your involvement with your students and the community around you. Okay, so here goes. It feels as if no matter where I turn, I am seeing post, articles, news feeds, or brief clips surrounding racial injustice. Even in my direct community, I see men and women of color being mistreated due to the color of their skin. We always say “It’s 2018 in America” or “This has to stop”, but I truly wonder if it ever will. I am very passionate about my experiences as a Black Woman growing up in North Carolina. I have personally been the victim of racial discrimination, but I don’t let it stop me. I use my experiences to push me to affect change for others.
In the later part of January, TV One, a station that focuses on discussing issues in, and the achievements of, the Black Community, announced that they would be airing a series called “Two Sides”. The series is produced by Viola Davis so I knew there would be an interesting twist. The basis of the show is focused on giving the families of many of the victims of police brutality a chance to express the truth of their loved ones case while giving the law enforcement agencies time to express their take. Watching this series really has pushed me to be emotional about the state of our country. Each episode showcases the lives of the victims before their tragic death. There is a clear theme amongst them all, these were Black people with limited opportunities, living in the inner city, subject to the mistreatment of their local law enforcement. From the stories that have already aired, the Eric Garner and Ezell Ford stories, my sociological mind has been thrust into analyzing the many social structures that have failed these men. Based on the information provided it almost feels as though they were both targeted by the systems that are in place to keep them safe. This causes me great frustration and sadness. These emotions led me to pay closer attention to the lives of Black men around me. In the past week, I have been informed of instances where DWB or Driving While Black has impacted someone I know. It almost makes me wonder, what are we doing wrong as a people?
I have taken the time to reflect on our history as a community and it leads me to believe one thing. We have done nothing but what we were designed to do. Systemically, we were brought to this country to be the mistreated and impoverished. Thankfully, we have opened our eyes to the systems around us and we and our allies are fighting to change what history is trying to dictate as our future. How do we impact this change? I think that answer is simple. It may manifest differently for each of us but, as educators it starts with us. Taking the time to lead by example, hearing the voices of all our students for who the are, respecting their experiences, and admitting our biases is a huge first step. For me, I hope to inspire others to use their education as the key to open many doors and to mentor those coming after me. I know those don’t sound like concrete things but, it’s what I know I can do, along with my civic duty to vote and be involved in my community. What you do, is strictly up to you. But please do something. Don’t let people continue to lose their lives in vain.