Stop Saying “Things are different now.”
This is originally from a thread I posted on Twitter, but it does need to be seen by my audience. It has been edited for clarity. You can find the thread here:
I’m so tired of “BUT THINGS ARE DIFFERENT NOW”: In 1964, Ruby Bridges was the first African American child to desegregate an elementary school in the south. Bridges was met with threats, public jeers and her parents were refused services & lost their jobs. She’s 65 today.
In 2006, I start at John Ward Elementary, in participation with METCO, a voluntary desegregation program aimed to diversify racially isolated schools by taking children of color from socioeconomic communities and giving them a better education. METCO WAS FOUNDED IN 1966.
METCO literally exists to shift students from “racially imbalanced” (>50% nonwhite) to “racially isolated” (< 30% nonwhite) districts but the districts are STILL RACIALLY ISOLATED. FUNDING IS STILL UNEVENLY DISTRIBUTED. In addition, people want to WITHDRAW FUNDING.
Pay attention. In 1964, Bridges integrated among THREATS due to racial imbalance/separation of quality education between POC and white kids. Just over 40 years later, the system is STILL trying to integrate and education is something families of color have to fight for. Put this in perspective. If a child lives in a district with an excellent education system will attend no problem. Racial isolation bubble be damned. Due to their location, and arguably, their parents’ income, they will attend this series of schools with resources they need.
A child that is born in a district with a poorly funded education system, lack of UPDATED resources, etc, might have a chance to go to the other one, but their parents have to apply for their child as early as INFANCY to even be considered. THE WAIT COULD BE YEARS.
In addition to that, the process, last I checked, is done in order of application- why families apply their child before they’re even a year old- because that’s how BAD these families want effective education for their children. And who are these families for the most part?
Families of color. And that’s only if a program such as METCO EXISTS AND APPLIES in your district. District is too far? Out of the boundary? Too bad. The waitlist is years long? Your child aged out? Tough.
My heart shakes when I see parents getting sent to jail for feigning their address solely for the sake of a quality education for their child. Quality. Education. And meanwhile districts just get closer to pulling funding for their integration programs instead. This is NOW.
A bit over 40 years later and Bridges is standing at a school assembly with me in the front row. Two timelines, and I’m shaken that districts are having the SAME issues she worked to combat. This isn’t gone. This isn’t something that is “done.”
WHY did Bridges brave a racist crowd only for children in this decade to wait years for a decent education? Why is this a question? Why do people refuse to build good schools in Black and POC neighborhoods. Why are there racial isolation bubbles?
Oh, that’s right. Because systematic racism is the overlapping, the weaving and establishment of structures and principles and policies DESIGNED to make being Black in America hell on earth. Even if you aren’t in shackles anymore. They’re invisible shackles, which are arguably worse than the visible ones. They’re in your resume, curriculum, media, industries, policies, and in a waitlist that is years long allocated to a select few districts in a major city that is losing funding all over the country. People of color are working to establish their own education networks to try and be rid of this, but when you limit schooling based on location, don’t TRY to build where it’s needed most and then pull funds from programs that benefit a group of people — it’s a road to nowhere.
What are we also tired of? No change. Going nowhere. Running in a wheel but going nowhere. Real easy to say things are different when it all feels the same to you. It costs you nothing to drift and dissociate from this situation. Nothing at all.
These words, when people discredit the real injustices that are happening, it’s wrong. People are hurt every day by this system and if you choose not to wake up, then welcome to being part of the problem. I don’t write about this because it is fun for me. It’s a painful reality that I do not have the choice of living through every day. So listen up.