I Am So Tired of Talking About Racism in Schools But America Won’t Let Me Live

Nov 9, 2018 12:00:00 AM

by Tanesha Peeples

Outrage: Racism, 101

Believe it or not, I get tired of talking about race. But unfortunately, there’s not a day that goes by where I’m not reminded of being Black in America. Like, when I drive through my, and other communities of color, and see blight and glaring disinvestment. Or like, during election season when people go through hell and high water to suppress our votes. And when I’m the only Black person around a bunch of clueless White liberals who always want to discuss “the struggle.” It really does get exhausting. https://twitter.com/PeeplesChoice85/status/1047308736086364160   But in the same way America doesn’t grow tired in perpetuating racism and division, I can’t not talk about the elephant in the room. Schools have (and continue) to serve as breeding grounds for racist and discriminatory policies. Like this high school in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Some of the school's band members thought it would be cute to spell out the racial slur “coon” with their instruments during the homecoming halftime. But...their mascot is the Bronco. https://twitter.com/RealChadRicardo/status/1059583274589323265   So either these kids can’t spell or they’re racist. In Yazoo City, Mississippi, (yep, that’s an actual place), Black parents are pulling their kids out of school because they’re not getting an education. The city ranks dead last in terms of education quality in the state that ranks last in the country. That’s dreadful. Much like most of the south, Yazoo City has chosen to just throw Brown v. Board away and keep their schools segregated. https://twitter.com/Publici/status/1053261986681753601 And if this isn’t enough to convince you that racism and ignorance are alive and well in our schools and country, just look at the thousands of people who signed a petition to save the teachers in Idaho who dressed up as Trump’s border wall for Halloween.

Hope: These Black School Board Candidates Will Gladly ‘Have Several Seats’

According to Urban Dictionary, the term “have several seats” basically means to shut the hell up. But these candidates interpreted it differently. In fact, they literally helped themselves to several seats—school board seats, that is—and are the first to ever do it in their districts. I want to have faith that racism will have less of a presence in schools. And one of the ways I can see that happening is through diversifying school district leadership. Take Gwinnett County as an example. It is the largest school district in Georgia with 32 percent Black and 30 percent Latino students. But the school board itself has been all White since forever—until Tuesday night. Former Gwinnett County student and teacher Everton Blair became the first African-American and youngest person on the board. Hopefully this addition prevents such incidents like the one mentioned above from happening again. https://twitter.com/ajc/status/1060045446293454848 In Lee County, Florida, Gwynn Gittens, a retired teacher, also made history by integrating the all-White school board. And in Missouri, Jason Wilson became the first African-American member on the Clayton Public Schools board. He was inspired to run because his mother was a dedicated educator and he also didn’t want other children to endure the same racism that his son had faced in school. The message is loud and clear: We need more administrators of color on school boards to represent the diversity within school districts. These people are making it happen.

Tanesha Peeples

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.

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