I am an immigrant to the South. I wasn’t particularly excited to move here from the bountiful northeastern seaboard, but there was money involved at the time, so here I am.
Since moving here, I’ve found myself compelled to get involved with all sorts of social justice-y things. Mostly, I was inspired by the Occupy protests. as much as I think the tents are a smooth, eye-catching feature of the movement, there is more work to be done than what Occupy has dedicated itself to. Corporate greed, and the government’s pacified position towards it, is the main artery we have to slice with the Sword of Justice in order to defeat the final boss. That’s somewhere on the 20th level of Global Revolution: Fight The Man, a game where America currently on like, level 5. We keep replaying the damn women’s rights and racial equality levels, and some asshole started unplugging the game system after Barack Obama got elected.
By the way, I looked at France’s game save, and they’re totally kicking our ass.
Anyway, I’m involved in food justice, the creation of jobs, racial equality, women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ issues, supporting labor unions (this is on the test, so remember that one), educational reform, healthcare reform, decriminalizing marijuana (yup) and mortgage reform… just to name a few.
Dr. Howard Fuller said recently that in every movement there are several layers of people supporting it. In the center, there are people who are willing to wage war and actually fight the battle. Then in a circle around the people fighting the battle, are the folks who are willing to hold the coats of those who fight, but aren’t particularly interested in fighting anyone. Then, lastly, there are the people who cheer only for the people who hold the coats. They’re not picking up any smelly coats, but they’re perfectly comfortable with cheering on those who will.
I’m one of the brave, opinionated women who is fighting the battle directly. Somebody! Come hold my coat and my earrings, because it’s on!
One of the orgizations that I’m in the trenches with is BAEO, aka the Black Alliance for Educational Options. They support public charter schools, home schooling (y’all know I was home schooled, right?), school vouchers and basically anything that gives Black parents an option other than their local public school. Basically, if you’re rich, you have all sorts of choices for where to send your kid to school. You can send them to a private school, a Catholic or other religious-based school or even just move to a better school district. Most Black families are not rich, and likely can’t afford to make those kinds of decisions.
I also support reform in our existing school districts. Things like smaller class sizes, better training for new teachers, a focus on teaching children critical thinking rather than teaching to the tests are all crucial and I want them for the kids in my community. However, these things are not the focus of this organization. I’m trying my damndest to help organize parents, grandparents and other citizens concerned about other aspects of public education, but right now the battle is about public charter school legislation, so that’s what I’m fighting for.
Anyway, in the commonwealth of Kentucky, charter school legislation is currently being considered by the state house and senate. There’s some fierce debate going on, and the other night really needed one of y’all to hold my fucking coat and earrings.
So the other night, BAEO held its usual bi-monthly meeting in my neighborhood. The room was filled with Black people who are advocates for educational reform, and want options for their children’s education. To create a fair dialogue, the organizer of the event scheduled a forum panel, including some charter school law opponents to speak about their side of the arugment.
So this guy, who represents the teacher’s union was there. His name is Brent McKim and I’m posting his name because he wrote something a couple of weeks ago that really got my goat. In an article he wrote for the Louisville Courier Journal, called “The Many Problems of Charter Schools.” I read that article the day after it was published, and one bullet point pissed me off so badly that there was steam coming out of my ears, ass and nostrils. When Mr. McKim showed up, I honestly got a little excited, because I would have an opportunity to confront him about the fuckery he wrote in the paper. I didn’t have it with me though, so I couldn’t quote him.
Then! Y’all! He did the work for me! We all had a little packet provided by BAEO, and once he realized we didn’t have anything opposing charter schools in that packet, Mr. McKim asked to have copies made of his article and a volunteer passed it out. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
In this Southern newspaper read by mostly old white folks, he authored this alarmist, ignorant and downright racist statement. Here’s the bullet point in all of its low-brow pandering:
Charter schools are segregating our schools and undermining democracy. Public education has been a pillar of our democracy, allowing students to understand the diversity they will experience as adults. Learners interact with others of different races, religions, beliefs and income levels. However, studies have found that charters are segregating our public schools. Many serve only Black, or only Muslim, or only Asian, or only affluent children. This should concern anyone who cares about the ability of the members of our diverse society to be able to get along well with one another and value the rich diversity found in our democracy.
Can y’all hold my coat & earrings while I recount what happened at this panel?
When the time came to ask panelists questions, I raised my hand and brought his article up to the podium. I thanked the fourm panelists from both sides for speaking at the event, and offering us their insight. Then I told Mr. McKim that I read his article that was published in the paper. I read the snippet from the article I pasted above.
I then said that I was home schooled, and did not need to sit next to a child of a different race to be prepared for the realities of life. I mentioned that charter schools are an option which parents can select. If white families feel as though an all-Black school is a product of segregation, or they want to integrate their white child into that school, they can apply to the lottery for that school and have as much of an opportunity to attend that school as anyone else. Then, I asked Mr. McKim to define what segregation is, and what self-selection is.
What he did was read a statement issued by the NAACP about why they think charter schools are bad. Thanks for the assumption that the NAACP, an organization founded by Caucasian people (look it up), represents all Black people.
Nope. Not at all.
Self-selection and segregation are two completely separate things, and it is outrageous for anyone to compare them in equal scope.
Anyway, I’m a fighter, and I’m hoping that some of you might be willing to fight with me, hold the earrings of my fellow fighters, or at the very least, encourage the folks holding our earrings.