I love you, plain and simple. You have inspired me and made me cry out with despair. This duality of my love for you, America, mirrors the love I have for my father who was ravaged by addiction. Oh, to be a child of a parent whom you love dearly but consistently breaks your heart. Yes, America, you break my heart but I resolve to take the lessons I learned as a young Black girl and share them as a Black female leader and educator.
Being able to have a better, more mature relationship with my Motherland, is akin to my adult relationship with my father. As a child, sometimes my father was extremely fair and rational and other times, often when he was intoxicated, he gave irrational, unfair responses without rhyme or reason. Or, worse, he ignored me. His addiction-filled responses taught me many lessons about resilience and reconciliation that I use as an adult dealing with America’s addiction to racism. Like my father, no person is a total sum of what they do wrong or right, but in order to activate resilience and reconciliation you must speak truth to power. Truth guts a lie of its powers. Our current events demonstrate what withholding the truth manifests: division, fear, anger and if unchecked, violence as we observed on Jan. 6, 2021.
Acknowledging all of America’s systemically racist transgressions, lies, judgments, stealing, dismantling of the human spirit, and the killing of bodies, is vital to repairing our collective relationships with our country and each other. Acknowledging isn’t blaming; it’s solidifying what happened, ensuring it never happens again and having a shared responsibility to change its impact from where we stand.
It is almost impossible to name a function of life where racism has not and does not touch. The work, just like the lessons I learned from loving my father, begins with us as individuals closely examining the areas where automaticity of biases show up. The reconciliation begins with us understanding our role and then moving our intentions of doing better into determined action.
I believe it is vital to our democracy to ensure that some of the work of eradicating racism starts in our classrooms. Schools have always stood as a beacon of morals, values, knowledge for their communities and society. Let’s tell the truth about our history and equip students with equity-centered knowledge, skills, and will that is: grade level, engaging, affirming, and meaningful(TM). When all students understand the true context and history behind “All men are created equal,” they can then begin to reconstruct their own understanding of their rightful place and impact in our country as the next female, male and non-binary leaders, innovators, artists, business owners, and the like. I want our students to love America in all of its rights and wrongs, and continue to push us to live up to our creed to exercise “Justice for All.”
This is part one of a three-part series.