In Honor of Martin Luther King: Teach Us All Documentary

 

MLK

Our lives are ending because of silence.

If you think that statement is overly dramatic, it’s not.

 

Facts:

  • For black students, the US is back at school segregation levels not seen since a year before Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, and 1 in 7 black and Latino children attend “hyper-segregated” schools.
  • Nationally, we spend more money incarcerating minority youth than educating them.  It costs $90,000 to house individuals in a juvenile detention center. It costs $10,000 to educate them.
  • Students of color make up 75% of the student population at the lowest performing high schools in the United States.
  • Children in segregated schools earn an average of 25% less income in their lifetime.
  • If you’re poor and not reading at grade level by 3rd grade you are 13 times more likely to not graduate high school.
  • If you are an African American you are 4 times more likely to not graduate high school.

Think about those last two facts.  Combined they paint the reality that our African American poor students not reading at grade level by the age of 8 are doomed to incarceration.  Their path in life has been determined by age 8.  They will likely fall victim to double segregation: race + income, and the political systems at play will ensure they never become productive citizens of society.

***

On Saturday I attended a showing of the Teach Us All documentary that is currently touring nationally on many college campuses and it also now available on Netflix.  An African American man with two Masters degrees stood before us to tell his story.  During the 1950’s-1970’s as Kansas City was immersed in unprecedented racial migration due to White flight imposed by J.C. Nichols and Co. and their racially charged real estate practices, schools at the city’s core began to get shut down.  With all the white people moving out to the suburbs they were no longer needed.  Simultaneously, prisons were taking their place in the areas African American families were moving into.  Coincidence?  No.  From that time African American females became 6 times more likely to get suspended or expelled from school than her white counterparts.  Essentially, an action that communicated the message that just because the courts say we have to let you in, we’ll still find a way to keep you out.  African American males were not overlooked either.  They became 4 times more likely to be recommended for Special Education services.  The man standing before us telling his story had spent his entire elementary experience in Special Education, and ultimately obtained two Masters.

To this day Missouri remains the #1 state for out-of-school suspensions.  Not Texas.  Not California.  Not Florida.  Not New York.  Missouri.  How can we bring up a community and a nation when the next generation is being denied their education?

***

Today is about action. About voice.  About getting loud and using your place of privilege to stand up and be heard on behalf of those who are continually ignored and dismissed.

Our silence–our inaction–is killing us.

Just ask Jordan Russell Davis, or Eric Garner, or John Crawford, or Michael Brown, or Laquan McDonald, or Akai Gurley, or Tamir Rice, or Walter Scott, or Freddie Gray, or Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, or Cynthia Hurd, or Susie Jackson, or Ethel Lee Lance, or DePayne Middleton Doctor, or Clementa Pickney, or Tywanza Sanders, or Daniel L. Simmons, Sr. or Myra Thompson, or Sandra Bland, or Jamar Clark, or Alton Sterling, or Philando Castille or Jordan Edwards, or Trayvon Martin, or…

Oh, wait.  We can’t.

_Unity is the only plausible path to justice.

Ways to get involved:

The most impactful way to get involved to speak out on policy.  Who we put in power politically matters!  So, whether it’s Trump’s latest remarks or this post or something else altogether–find the fire the belly, the passion in your heart, and get involved.  There is no time to waste.  People are dying while we sit in silence.  GO!

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