Earlier this month, ‘The Movement for Black Lives” (or M4BL) policy platform went live. Endorsed by over 50 community coalitions, the platform details numerous initiatives and demands directly affecting the Black community, including two sections on education (analysis of these platforms can be read at EdWeek or The Atlantic, and the initatives themselves in the “Community Control” and “Invest-Divest” sections of the platform).
The plans are thorough and cohesive. I am by no means an expert on it (and, of course, nothing is perfect), but beyond what I think are some truly revolutionary and important steps listed within the platform, I also believe that the creation of the platform is an essential, progressive step towards revolutionizing education.
For far too long, those disenfranchised by systemic oppression have been forced to navigate a system that, frankly, was not built to uplift or empower them. As Hiram Rivera, one author of the platform noted to The Atlantic, “The education system in this country has never worked for poor people and people of color...We’re not calling for the status quo. We don’t want things to continue as they’ve always done.”
It is essential for these communities to rise up and demand that the system transform into one where we are all able to thrive. Oppressive systems have silenced the under-privileged for years. When we have called out the problems and consequences current systems have, we have been gaslighted, called ungrateful, or simply removed.
Now, as we have more opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other at a national level, we must use these tools to organize. We must start overthrowing the stale, hurtful systems of the past that ultimately pitted us against each other or taught people that some of us were worthy and some of us were not. The only way that will happen is if those from within communities that have historically been underserved come together and say, “No more. We demand worthwhile resources, treatment, and change. Here is what we think that looks like.”
It will not be easy. We will disagree. Generations of harmful educational practices can’t be healed with one conversation, and nuances in culture and values will cause tension.
Still, I believe that these tough conversations are worth it. I believe it is the only way we continue on, as Dr. King said, the long arc of the moral universe that bends towards justice.
The opinions expressed in The Intersection: Culture and Race in Schools are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.