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The presidential election had me so stressed that I had to run my ass across the border to the beaches and palm trees in Mexico to save my sanity. Thankfully by the time I’d landed, we had a new president-elect in Joe Biden and the first-ever Black, female vice president-elect in Kamala Harris.
Published 11/16/2020 | Reading Time 8 min 53 sec
By Tanesha Peeples, Blogger and Chicago Activist
Photo Courtesy of Education Post
In my lifetime, I’ve gotten to see a Black man elected president of the United States and a Black woman elected vice president. That’s magic. And the ancestors are proud.
I don’t think a lot of people understand how bad Black people were suffering under the Trump reign, which is why 87% of those of us who vote showed up to give his ass the boot.
If you don’t understand why Black people are most distraught and stressed by how close this race is, then you haven’t been paying attention.
Most politicians have never adequately represented or advocated for our needs.
And to be clear, most politicians have never adequately represented or advocated for Black people’s needs, but Trump has made it abundantly clear that besides a few initiatives like Congress giving money to HBCUs and pardoning a few Black men and women from prison, he really doesn’t give a damn about us. But please don’t mistake our turnout for JoeMala as renewed faith in the Democratic party—y’all definitely owe us bigly.
87% of Black people helped carry Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the finish line, but we should not assume they’re going to carry us the next four years. The work starts here & now. Accountability & follow through on their end are a must; advocacy & bold voices are a must on ours.
Now, I gotta drag some skeletons out of the closet real quick.
I’m not a person who holds someone’s past mistakes or policy stances against them because changes of hearts and minds do happen. But when those policies and inaction cause generational and communal harm, an apology alone isn’t enough—we need and deserve sincerity and restitution.
Yes, Biden apologized and admitted that some aspects of the 1994 crime bill that blew up mass incarceration—especially in the Black community—were a mistake and Harris regrets her involvement in past school truancy laws that led to parents being fined and jailed, but we have to see and make them finally walk it like they talk it. Y’all should already know where I’m going with this—straight to education.
While on the campaign trail, Joe said that he would eliminate student loan debt for people who come from families making less than $125,000 a year. That’ll definitely help break links in the chain of generational poverty in Black communities.
As a first-generation college student who knows the struggle of only making $28,000 a year with Sallie Mae blowing my phone up every other hour with the expectation of me making monthly student loan payments of $650, I’m for this. I just wish this policy was retroactive for those of us who already have our degrees.
I need these student loan forgiveness policies to be retroactive.
Hell, we need help too.
But I’m feeling this even more so because higher education is the new poverty pimp in marginalized communities.
I’m not at all anti-college but sending millions of Black kids to institutions of higher education when they’ve been underprepared and overall failed by “lower” education—the public K-12 system—is not only shitty, it’s a form of predatory lending that traps us with debt we ultimately can’t pay back and a loss on our investment.
And for those of us who do make it out, we often make less money than our white counterparts and are saddled with more student loan debt that we sometimes default on.
So yeah, go ahead and make good on that pledge to ease student loan debt so the promise of prosperity yielded through education can be a reality for us, too.
We also want to see JoeMala choose a secretary of education who’s committed to providing a quality education for every child in America—someone that’s beholden to the greater well-being of students and not agendas that only serve their interests or that of the status quo.
With that said, Randi Weingarten—President of the American Federation of Teachers—is an automatic “no” for me.
There have been conversations about a few potential candidates and her name has come up.
And listen, I don’t care how her professional resume reads. What we don’t need is anti-school choice (which is anti-parent choice), teachers union gatekeeper whose main priority is to protect educators that ain’t doing their damn job well—whether that be performance-wise or in doing a disservice to Black kids because they can’t see past their personal prejudices.
We need someone that truly understands the plight of public education and has been or is currently connected to the communities that are most impacted, a leader that promotes and enforces equity, understands the necessity of and is intentional about developing pathways for more teachers or color and so much more that would enhance the quality of education for Black kids.
So, for me, Randi ain’t it.
Lastly, what would really make us Black people good with Kamala and Joe is if they finally started busting up this school-to-prison pipeline.
VP-elect Harris has recently been very vocal about police violence against Black people. And while Biden has expressed he isn’t for defunding police, he has echoed similar sentiments in condemning brutality.
This administration would immediately need to remediate the damage Besty Devos did in reversing Obama-era discipline guidelines.
Look, I don’t care what they call the reallocation of funding from police and SROs in schools to programming and supports for traditionally marginalized students but, it’s a conversation school districts need to hear from our nation’s leaders in order to protect our most criminalized kids. And also in disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline, this administration would immediately need to remediate the damage Betsy DeVos did in reversing Obama-era discipline guidelines.
D.C. tyranny may be on life support, but traditional American politics are still alive and well.
Black people have carried Democrats to victory time and time again and as soon as they cross, we get left in the dust.
Van Jones just said Black women are the backbone of the Democratic party and yet, we’re still the most neglected group in America. Hence, we have to stop showing up for people that consistently abandon and leave us in the dust.
If we’re making history in giving Joe Biden the most votes ever received by a presidential candidate and Kamala Harris being the first woman and woman of color as vice president, then let’s keep this energy going in being one of the few times in Black American history that we get what we need and want from this country and party whose false claim to fame and office has been representing the 99%.
Publisher’s Note: An original version of this post is available at Education Post
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.”