I am tired of seeing you around. You have become the unspoken excuse for stalling progress on racial and educational justice. Convenience you have an outsized influence on how we view and respect each other as human beings.
It is you, Convenience, that thinks all lives matter. It is also easy to say you don’t see the color of someone’s skin. Are you so confident to think you know what it is like to walk in the shoes of people of color? Where is your humility? The color of someone’s skin does matter. You can only speak from your own skin, not others. I’m a white male. I shouldn’t expect my experience to trump the lived experiences of anyone other than myself.
It is you Convenience that is interrupted when Black Lives Matter’s efforts to call attention to racial disparities are done at the wrong times and places. Non-violent responses to violence in our communities are necessary. When do you think about racial inequality if it weren’t for a freeway being blocked, protests held at Mall of America, the airport and the state fair, or demanding justice for Jamar Clark? You need to be reminded that your life is so privileged that you complain about a delayed drive home, shopping trip, or entrance into the state fair over the inconveniences of African Americans.
Convenience might visit you if you don’t fear hearing the name of the latest young person killed on the news. I fear hearing the name because it might be one my students that I pour my heart and soul into to succeed in a system that doesn’t stand up and with them. Yet Convenience you don’t visit the neighborhoods and families experiencing inequality. You are insulated from the conversations of race in our schools, homes, and justice system. Convenience you don’t concern yourself with this fear because you don’t experience the same struggles. Convenience you assume that you understand the system and criticize your fellow human beings actions trying to change what is wrong.
It is Convenience that measures students with a battery of standardized tests. But Convenience you don’t get spreadsheets that measure the loss of art, gym, social studies, recess, and lunch time. Convenience you are given a higher priority than students. Competition based on test scores requires students to fail in order to protect Convenience’s place. It is convenient to ignore these tests are racially biased towards white students. Where are the policies for allowing young students to play and socialize to form social skills? Where are the policies that require art and music for students to unleash their creativity? They become inconvenient add ons when tests rule over our classrooms for the convenience of shaming public schools instead of supporting them. Convenience you have stolen that from too many children. Capitalistic competition has been misapplied to education. Don’t think you have the ability to change our education system based on boiling children down to numbers when it is profit margins of Pearson that perpetuate the narrative that children of color are the problem when, in fact, it is you Convenience.
White parents would you accept that your white student deserved to be tasered because s/he walked away from the school liaison officer? This happened outside my own classroom to a student of color who struggled, but improved in my class the year before. It isn’t a question of whether or not this student did something right or wrong, but if he would have been treated differently if he was White. Convenience you are too pervasive. You are even in the halls of our schools.
I’m heartbroken the lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King are forgotten. Convenience I’m glad you haven’t visited me lately. I’m better off witnessing and standing up with my students advocating for their equality under the law. I’m proud when students stage a walk out or a sit in. I invite my colleagues and white community members to reject Convenience and confront the illusion that race doesn’t matter. If race didn’t matter then people wouldn’t protest and disrupt Convenience. Black lives do matter. Stop repeating your statements of “I don’t see race.” Distance yourself from Convenience. Stand with our students and neighbors for a future that is just.
Convenience you are no longer welcome.