There is a myriad of disparities and gaps that exist in our society, placing people of color at a disadvantage. We are seeing this play out in real-time with the COVID-19 pandemic, as the coronavirus has disproportionately affected Indigenous, Black and brown communities.
The response of the U.S. government has been one of ineptitude, infighting, and ultimately, tragic results for people of color. We are now seeing academic disparities rear their head, as Black and brown families wait for the public school system to open safely, while affluent, white families pay for school services and private tutors to ensure their children are prepared for their reality after this experience. These circumstances serve to widen existing gaps.
To some, white supremacy only means extreme violence and calculated menace from an era we have left behind—white hoods gathered at night beneath burning crosses. Time may have passed, but white hoods have transformed into police uniforms, teaching attire, corporate suits and business casual garb on the streets of our nation.
None of it is fair to the children we serve. None of it is fair to us.
The education system in our country was created by and for white families in every legal designation the system espouses—traditional, charter or private. The voices and needs of Black and brown students were not taken into account when this system began, and in many instances, are still passed over today. And our entire society lives with the consequences.
Imagine what our world could be if we truly educated Black and brown minds to their fullest potential. We could have had the cure for cancer by now. Think of the discoveries, art, policies, writing and leaders lost to the perpetuation of this system.
A society operating at only a fraction of its capacity can solve nothing. But, we don’t have to keep withering in the suffocating prison built for us by white supremacy.
Over the last 18 months, The Mind Trust worked to analyze our ability to act as an antiracist organization and the path forward from ways we have failed. We examined and acknowledged the ways we held up a white supremacist system and asked ourselves what deep work and outcomes are needed to become conspirators against racial injustice.
We are asking ourselves questions that we call on other organizations to ask of themselves:
How do we begin to reimagine and dismantle a system like this?
In what ways do we participate in the system?
How do we start building systems predicated on a different reality?
How do we not criminalize African American men, women, and children?
How do we not remove or ignore Latino perspectives and needs?
We will all have to engage in deep interrogation and corporate soul searching to upend this current system. We cannot truly repair our country’s broken soul until we explore the root from which it came and why we continue to align with its principles.
We need an effective strategy to masterfully challenge the system—because just as we will fight to tear down this house, some in our midst will fight to rebuild every wall that falls. Some will work diligently to protect this system—a prison to some and a palace to others.
We will need to hold a deep commitment to this work as a social and moral imperative that can only be judged by outcomes, not feelings of pity or vain name-changing gestures.
The commitment will need to produce tangible results for our communities that go beyond the notion that this is simply the right thing to do. For it is right, but it also creates an opportunity for our nation to live up to the promise of equality that has been a farce since the beginning.
The Mind Trust is committed to continuing the necessary work to dismantle inequitable systems, as doing so can only make this nation—this world—truly live up to its fullest potential. We ask you to join us in examining the biases that live within your organizations and the systems that support your organization.
Patrick Jones is Senior Vice President of Leadership and Equity at The Mind Trust. Patrick leads The Mind Trust’s implementation of racial equity priorities and commitments.
Before joining The Mind Trust in 2018, Patrick served as director of secondary schools for Tindley Accelerated Schools, where he coached principals and oversaw the development of ...