Before we even get started, I just wanna say that the Grand Jury ruling Breonna Taylor’s killing justified is bullshit.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest …
Some months back, I was reading a book called, “Kill Them Before They Grow: Misdiagnosis of Black Boys in American Classrooms,” by Michael Porter. And while stewing in outrage over the wrongful death of another Black person, it dawned on me that killing us before we grow is America’s plan.
Breonna Taylor’s light was fully dimmed at the age of 26—having no idea that on the night of March 13, 2020, she would be assassinated in her own home. But [pullquote]attempts on her life and the lives of many other Black boys and girls began when they entered a school system that perceived them as dangerous and targeted them because of the color of their skin.[/pullquote]
If you’ve been paying attention to Hope & Outrage, I talk all the time about how they’re killing our kids in schools—I just haven’t used this particular language. But they are indeed trying to kill their potential by trapping them in failing schools. Limiting their access to educators who actually look like them and encourage them to follow similar career paths, doing the most to block the emergence of future lawyers, politicians, doctors, presidents and scientists.
They assassinate our characters with racist stereotypes and biases—criminalizing our Black boys and girls as early as pre-K with the intent to prepare them for prison and not college.
They kill their futures by passing them through grades with schoolwork that isn’t challenging, sending them to college unprepared, saddling them with thousands of dollars of debt they can’t pay off, and ultimately exacerbating the cycle of poverty in our communities.
They want to disempower Black kids early by quelling their spirit and fight, refusing to teach the in-depth history that tells stories of our strength and rebellion against enslavement and oppression in America.
Every day they tell our kids to stand and pledge allegiance to a flag of a country that hasn’t pledged allegiance to them and has no respect for their lives.
And while trying to survive all of these attempts on our lives in our K-12 careers, [pullquote]we also have to endure American Jumanji—a jungle of contradiction they call democracy, fighting through levels of anti-black politics, policies, practices and attitudes.[/pullquote] Facing shorter life expectancy because of limited access to healthcare, mental health and healthy food options, aging faster from stress related to racial discrimination, and so many other injustices and systemic assaults.
Y’all, I’m so tired—we all are. Like Jemele Hill said on Twitter, “The state of Kentucky deemed the lives of Breonna Taylor’s neighbors to be worth more than her own. Let that sink in.”
Black people, we have to let the fact that this country doesn’t give a damn about us sink in, get on one accord with one agenda to empower Black minds through education and liberate Black bodies through resistance. Our sis, Breonna Taylor, didn’t get justice—but it’s not too late to fight for our kids trying to make it in a country that wants to kill them before they grow.
Breonna, we’re so sorry.
Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work—“If not me, then who?” As the former Deputy Director of Activist Development for brightbeam, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for change in the public education system. Her passion for community and relentless mission for justice and liberation drive her in uplifting and amplifying the voices and advocacy of those that are often ignored. Tanesha wholeheartedly believes that education is the foundation for success. Her grand 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. And that's what she works towards every day.
Your donation will support the work we do at brightbeam to shine a light on the voices who challenge decision makers to provide the learning opportunities all children need to thrive.