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By Tanesha Peeples
Dear White people,
I don’t want your apologies in 2019.
Future BBQ Beckys, Corner Store Carolines, you can keep your apology.
To the newscaster in St. Louis that “accidentally” called Dr. Martin Luther King, “Martin Luther Coon”, you can definitely keep that trash apology!
Because even with all these apologies and cute little labels of “liberal,” “progressive,” “reformer” and “activist,” Black students still suffer from racist policies and culturally insensitive schooling.
Just think about it.
Before we could even start the new year, the Trump administration—one that clearly works in the interest of preserving White privilege—eliminated the guidelines that protect Black students from harsher discipline practices.
In Texas, the parent of a 6-year-old Black boy was asked to cut her son’s hair in compliance with “school policy.”
And this whole ordeal with the young lady in Florida who “must have cheated” to score over a 1200 on the SAT? Don’t even get me started!
Now these injustices aren’t completely one person or group’s fault but when they happen as a result of racism, prejudicial bias and white privilege and at the detriment of someone’s education without you taking action, you’re complicit.
If you can have social media and coffee shop conversations about how wrong the Trump administrations’ racist policies are but not lobby your representatives to vote against them, you’re complicit.
Anytime you stand back and allow a child to miss valuable instruction time because of their hair and not protest or demand that the school change its “policies” to be more inclusive, you’re complicit.
And if you preach integration but practice segregation, are an educator who’s a closet subscriber to the belief gap, and a champion of equity but complain about what underserved students need, you’re a complicit hypocrite.
Don’t get me wrong. Most of us have appreciated these “come to Jesus” moments—admissions of guilt on behalf of your ancestors and now, fathers and first cousins. But they’re falling on deaf ears when the needle is barely being moved.
So again, keep the apologies, I want action.
HOPE: S.U.B.U. (SCHOOLS FOR US AND BY US)
The beautiful thing about social media is it creates a space for people to learn from and support one another, get the latest news and laugh at the foolery in the world.
But it also creates a space for ignorance—like this guy who asks “Why don’t ‘the Blacks’ just teach themselves.”
I’m pretty sure that this guy is a troll but guess what Twitter Troll, “The Blacks” can actually teach themselves.
I’ve come across and had arguments with so many Black people that have complained and moaned about the quality of all school models—and rightfully so because we haven’t been given the fairest shake.
But my standard response to these people is, “Guess what, we don’t have to send our children to these schools. We have other options.”
Little Sun People has culturally relevant and rich curricula, staff that looks like the students they teach and is overall that “good school” that many families are looking for.
I’m constantly having to defend charter schools in these arguments.
Look, politics aside, charter schools have given a lot of families—mine included—an “out” from poorly resourced and poor-performing traditional public schools. And without them on the scene, we wouldn’t have afrocentric schools like Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools here in Chicago.
Like them or not, they’ve given families choices.
And if you’ve completely lost faith in the public and private school systems, more and more Black parents are turning to homeschooling.
Bottom line, we’ve fallen prey to this traditional system that claims the only way Black children can be equitably educated is through integration—integration that hasn’t happened.
We want good schools and they are out there. Schools led by us and ones that cater to our needs.
Tanesha Peeples is the Deputy Director of Outreach for Education Post. Her mission is to use her education, passion and experience to empower marginalized populations. Born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, she is a Chicago Public Schools alumna and proud Englewoodian. Check out her blogging about “Hope and Outrage.”