This isn’t about equity anymore. It’s about educational justice and freedom.
Black kids are set up for failure at day one. They walk into their kindergarten classroom with optimism, excitement, a sense of being a “big boy” or a “big girl” and most importantly, dreams.
But throughout their educational career, those dreams are crushed or marred by falsehoods, traumatic experiences and empty promises.
Our communities are oversaturated with underperforming schools–inexperienced and overstressed teachers, inadequate resources and administrators that view our kids as dollar signs and not scholars.
Starting in preschool, they’re targeted for suspensions and expulsions because there’s more interest in seeing them slave in prison sweatshops than working in corporate offices.
The ones who do “get out” often buy into the American Dream that says if they go to college, they’ll be successful. But somehow, Black college graduates still earn 21 percent less per hour than their White counterparts.
How has this public education system worked for some and not others (that’s a rhetorical question)? But if you need an answer, it was never supposed to work for us.
I have a dream, y’all. I know that sounds cliche but hear me out.
In my dream, we’re free–and I wholeheartedly believe that freedom comes with education.
Not just education provided through the school system, but education of self, culture and history so that we are more affirmed in our power and greatness.
And when we become better aware, we’ll understand what’s happening and what needs to be done. That again, this system hasn’t been set up for Black kids to succeed at the same rates as White kids.
Because of that, every parent, guardian, community member and stakeholder will become more engaged in education. Hold school districts and leaders accountable and feel comfortable and welcomed as thought partners in school buildings. And we embrace all options that educate our kids, regardless of model.
Also in my dream, I have hopes that these policymakers and fake reformers would stop lying to us and truly work to give our kids the education they need and deserve. But they never do. Because the “American Dream” relies greatly on the contingency that we continue to trust our oppressors.
So us true reformers and advocates band together, identify the fight and take it to the schools, the school boards, superintendents and the legislators. We become the educators and policymakers because we know what our kids and communities need. We revitalize the village.
And if we still can’t get these schools, administrators and policymakers to act right, we remove our kids, take it back to the old school and reopen freedom schools.
At the end of my dream, our kids get the education they need and deserve, by any means necessary.
While it all sounds and feels so simple, I wake up and I’m back in the reality of this country led by Trump and running rampant with racism. A country where only 10 percent of Black male eighth graders are reading proficiently.
It’s easy to get discouraged but I have to constantly remind myself that our ancestors fought for and sacrificed so much more. So if I, or we, ever start to feel hopeless or tired, we owe our ancestors for bringing us this far. We owe our kids a brighter future. We have to keep pushing.
And if we do what we’re supposed to do, they get justice and we gain a little more freedom.
Tanesha Peeples is the Deputy Director of Outreach for Education Post. She was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, is a Chicago Public Schools alumna and proud Englewoodian.
She blogs about Hope and Outrage.
As an undergraduate student at Northern Illinois University, Tanesha began to develop a passion for and understand the importance of public service. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration, she returned to Chicago with a new perspective on community, politics and civic engagement.
Tanesha then attended and graduated from DePaul University with a master’s degree in public service management and urban planning and development.
Throughout her professional career, Tanesha has used her education, passion and experience to navigate a number of nonprofit, political and independent ventures, advancing her mission to educate and empower marginalized populations. Prior to joining Education Post, she also managed her own consulting firm specializing in community relations.
Tanesha’s vision is one where everyone—regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender or zip code—can have access to a comfortable quality of life and enjoy the freedoms and liberties promised to all Americans.