Category Archives: Training
On Friday, November 23rd, I gave birth to my 4th child, and my 3rd son. On Friday, November 23rd, a white Florida male, shot and killed a black Florida teenager because of the teenager’s loud music at a gas station. Yes. That’s what I said. Loud music caused a grown white male with a gun to use deadly force at the “threat” that was a black teenager with his friends, in a car, listening to music loudly (http://www.cfnews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2012/11/26/michael_dunn_shootin.html). As I welcomed my little miracle into the world, another mother of color lost hers.
After reading and re-reading several accounts of this story, I thought back to the slave codes of the antebellum southern United States, and the Black Codes that were enforced in most of the United States. It was against the law and viewed as a threat if Blacks, specifically male, were seen in a group larger than what was comfortable for whites. It wasn’t enough that Blacks had been stolen from their land, stripped of language, religion, and dignity, made to work for free, murdered, raped, mutilated, and denied of the basics comforts given a dog. Even after “freedom”, Blacks were continually disenfranchised and treated as less-than. We are now in 2012 and the day is no different. So, let me tell you what tires me:
1. Black people who have reached their version of success, but are blind to the fact that they may be living the anomaly.
2. “Well-meaning white people” who would prefer not to discuss the heinous nature of their privilege as whites in this country, and what that means for those of us who are not white.
3. The education, legal, and religious institutions in this country on which racism has stood ad been supported for more than two centuries.
4. A government that is MORE than alright with allowing this type of crime to continue due to their belief that certain people themselves in positions that make them appear guilty.
5. Black people who do everything in their power to enforce negative stereoptypes, not realizing they don’t own the rules to the game, don’t know how to play them game, and are purposely left out of the planning of the modifications of the game.
6. Parents who clearly have done a piss-poor job at raising their children- across racial divides.
Now that I’ve made myself clear about how this case brought back up the things that piss me off, here is how I will stand my ground:
1. My 3 sons and 1 daughter will grow KNOWING who they are and whose they are. I will not sugar-coat the history of this nation, nor will I absolve them of their responsibility to make it a better place for themselves and others.
2. My students will be pushed (whether I receive school/parental support or not) to think beyond the options they’ve been given in order to realize motives and objectives and create an end-game for themselves.
3. I will no longer allow any Black, White, Latino, Asian, or any other combination of human to define what I see racially in order to make themselves feel better about what they don’t want to discuss. Race is in the details of too much of what goes on in schools, government decisions, religious doctrines, and other beliefs we follow. I cannot afford to turn a blind-eye just to maintain friends. If I have to lie to you about what I see in order to maintain the relationship (personal or professional), then keep on walking.
I am tired of reading about another young, Black, and unarmed boy being murdered by a grown, White, and fully armed man. I am tired of people saying it isn’t racially motivated. I am tired of people who say, “But look at how many times they kill each other, or shoot us.” That is so not the point, and I refuse to allow the narrative to be turned into a blame-the-victim picnic. As a nation, we have to come to terms with the fact that we are deeply flawed and actively maintain the flaws to keep certain types of people in power. All parts of our communities have to change their methods of thinking, talking, educating, and emoting in order to make this world less scary. We can’t look at Black bodies and see only threat or profit. That is not acceptable. It should have never been acceptable, but history is what it is. Take a stand on who you will choose to be.
Malala Yousufzai is a young Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban. When we hear about the Taliban, the discussion ranges from claiming that Islam and Taliban beliefs are one and the same, or that they are a crazy offshoot of Islam that should be eliminated as soon as humanly possible. Few, if any of those discussing the Taliban actually know the tenets they follow. The fact is, a close read of their beliefs would bring many to the understanding that a strict read of the Q’uran is advocated, and any deviation is seen as cardinal sin. Malala committed one of those cardinal sins. Not only did she push to be educated as a girl, but she spoke out against a Taliban rule that subjugates women from the womb to the tomb, including excluding females from academic access. What, if anything, does this have to do with today’s debate?
Wendy Kopp (with whom I was partially on the same wavelength) penned an article in the New York Times about education and the debate (http://ideas.time.com/2012/10/22/why-education-should-be-in-the-foreign-policy-debate/). I would argue, however, that her focus and commentary are recycled party line speeches among those in the the so-called education reform movement. Education and Malala should not be discussed in tonight’s debate simply because we believe that education is important for success and competition. Why aren’t we talking about how the “educated” are educated? Why aren’t we talking about a neo-imperialist desire to import what we haven’t come close to achieving ourselves?
We know that it is important to educate girls worldwide. We know that it is cheaper in the long run to promote programs that bring schools and educational resources to the poorest areas of the world as well. But why aren’t we? Why is it still more profitable for us, as in the fine United States (which I love, don’t get me wrong), to promote the export and import of materials, the protection of certain countries’ rights to possess nuclear weapons while others can’t, or to play Big Brother to areas that would prefer we walk on by, than to actually be the beacon of light we tout so often? The answer is, it’s easier to talk about it than to do it.
Bringing education to the forefront as a foreign policy discussion point would require an honesty about our history for which we may not be ready. We would have to speak about why we as a generation have become so vocal about the bedroom practices of some, to the point that we would donate to certain organizations, but are reticent to look for ways to donate to UNICEF’s hunger or education initiatives. We would have to discuss why we describe Iran and North Korea as a danger to the US and Israel, but ignore how the US and Israel have been dangers to other countries, both economically and militarily. We would have to discuss why we do business with Equatorial Guinea, though the country is in ruins due to the mismanagement- to put it lightly- of the leaders. We would have to discuss our hypocrisy over when and why we send our men and women of the military abroad.
You see, there’s a reason why many “foreign” people have never been able to achieve the dreams they wish. There’s a reason why the developer nations (the one’s we call developing, but have developed the economies of larger nations) have been so for decades, or even centuries. It is because it is our foreign policy to isolate ourselves socially from their struggle, while intervening economically for our own interests.
So, education should be at the center of the foreign policy debate, not as a means by which we can make things more flowery for the generations to come, but as a means by which we learn to speak about the unspeakable, even if we implicate ourselves in the disasters we see.