Now if you don’t know who Bryan Stevenson is, you should check him out. I see him as our modern day Thurgood Marshall for his relentless efforts to disrupt injustice and inequality in the legal system.
In exploring enslavement and its correlation to mass incarceration, Bryan hit on some points about America’s history of racism manifesting itself in the present, false and deflective narratives being used to overshadow the brutality and mistreatment of Black people, and how despite all of this, we have to believe in change. I found that these highlights also rang true for America’s history in educating Black people—and all of these points paint a picture of injustice, inequality and uphill battles for freedom.
We Are Haunted in America by Our History of Racial Inequality
This point about being haunted about our history is the realest talk!
Let’s be clear, America has never wanted Black kids to be educated. Just like Slave Codes made it illegal for enslaved Africans to learn how to read and write, practices in today’s public education system reek of discrimination and inequality and make it difficult for Black kids to get a good education.
And for a country that preaches equality, why is it that kids in impoverished communities of color get less per pupil funding, lack access to high-quality teachers, rigorous classes and student support resources and programs?
I can go on with a number of infractions but the point is, history is repeating itself.
People are calling for more accountability of charter schools when traditional public schools have been allowed to fly under the radar for years. I mean, don’t we want accountability for all schools?
Bottom line, these anti-choice pundits have been able to masterfully distract people from the real issue of the school system failing Black people. The problem isn’t charter schools, it’s this country’s unwillingness to really invest in our kids’ education.
Towards the end of the documentary, Bryan was reflecting on lessons he’d learned from his grandmother who was the daughter of enslaved people. He said:
“I think if my grandmother gave me anything, she gave me the confidence to believe things I haven’t seen.”
This quote really struck home for me. This is where the hope has to outweigh the outrage.
We’ve never seen a public school system that works for all kids but we have to believe we can build one.
To sum it all up, Bryan hit the nail on the head with this:
“I don’t think we can get free until we can tell the truth about our history. Truth and reconciliation are important.”
We have to face our ugly history and its influence on the present. We have to heal and move forward with equality as a priority. Because if we don’t, liberty for all will continue to be a falsehood and generations of Black people will continue to suffer.
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 ...