The First Days of School | Part 2
Know Where the Power Lies
We struggle to talk about our own power, and when I say struggle, I mean in all senses of the word. Some of us don’t know our power. Some of us are uncertain of how to communicate our power. Others of us are hesitant to discuss our power, especially if it’s a threat to dominating forces. And even more of us are outright, plain ol’ afraid of our power.
It is difficult to grow up in this white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy of a world, and not suffer at least some self-defeating psychosis. Euro-centric revisionist histories are drilled into our skulls for at least 13 years of schooling, until we can’t conceive of a thought that what we’ve learned in all of that time, might be flat-out wrong. News stories painting the “western world” as superpower and superhero dominate our televisions, and in turn, our worldview — even to our own detriment. Our psyches are consistently flooded with images of state-sanctioned murder and violence against people of color, domestically and internationally, until we are spiritually scarred and empathetically numb.
To survive in this twilight zone and hold on to some semblance of sanity is an accomplishment in its own right… one that is not to be undervalued. But we have to understand, that we are much more than simple survivors. We are strategists. We are people who have not only demonstrated resilience in the face of what would seem to be insurmountable odds, we have reconstructed reality in superhuman ways.
When reading was punishable by death, my ancestors didn’t just learn how to read, they created pit schools to teach even more people these forbidden fundamentals, in spite of the danger. When state and federal laws prevented people of color access to land and job opportunities, African Americans created independent, self-sustaining, thriving towns across the nation that surpassed the prosperity of neighboring European Americans. Even with anti-Black oppression being the cornerstone of white supremacy in every country of the world for the past seven centuries; African people across the diaspora have crafted the cultures, gifted the genius and defined the direction of everything from emerging communities, to entire countries.
Your ancestors have powerful truths like these too. Every racial, ethnic and cultural group does. And in this world, where power seems finite and for a few, the fullness of our ancestors’ and their truths is where student learning should start.
It may seem, to some, that I’m advocating total blindness to the ills of whiteness that surround us. Ehhhhhh… Not quite. But here’s the deal:
White supremacy is a fear-based agenda: fear of reciprocity, of righting wrongs, of repercussions, of reparations, and of releasing control… White supremacy, simply, is white fear. White fear creates systemic policies that keep the schools of Black and Brown children under-resourced and over-policed. White fear engineers the efforts to keep our strongest and most innovative people imprisoned (or in ISS: in-school suspension.) White fear promotes propaganda that frames our family and community structures as fractured and futile. White fear birthed a country-wide campaign to make America white — I mean — “great” again.
Yet, here we are. Surviving, thriving, and — to the dismay of some — smiling!
How powerful must we be as a people if entire prison systems, broken school systems, biased housing systems, imbalanced media systems, unfair legal systems, etc. are created to pause our progress… AND NONE OF THAT STOPS US?
Come on now, y’all!
We are threats. Powerful threats. And to be threats to the status quo of the so-called superpower of the world, by simple deductive reasoning, would mean that we are truly the superpowers to watch out for.
So I want us to stop internalizing white fear, and for the love of all things sacred,
I need us to stop teaching fear to our youth. Our focus and fear fuels the frenzy of white supremacy. Stop handing over our illustrious energy preaching and proving our worth to people who hold on so desperately to pitiful white power perspectives. No need. Their fear shows they already know precisely how powerful we are.
It’s high time we know it too.
Look in the mirror and revel in the force that caused all of this fury. Lean into indigenous genius. Love liberally in your families and friendships, and build beautiful bonds. Learn the survivor stories of your bloodline. Leverage community wealth, and plan our path towards the promise of freedom. Live like the spirits of your ancestors are alive in you, because they are.
Go teach the children that.
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