Before taking a much needed vacation at the end of last year, I wrote a piece talking about how education for Black kids cannot look the same as it did in 2020.
A month later I’m keeping that same energy and putting it to action, which is why my activist fam from around the country and I drafted a list of demands for President Biden and Education Secretary Cardona to prioritize educational justice for Black and brown families. And we want y’all to catch this energy too!
Now before y’all get to saying, “Joe and Kamala have only been in office a week and you’re expecting them to have the world changed already,” let me give y’all three reasons why we’re on their tails already.
During his presidential campaign, Joe Biden released the “Lift Every Voice” plan, acknowledging the plight Black people have endured for generations and his solutions to finally promote equality and equity.
One of the overarching goals in this plan is to “Expand access to high quality education and tackle racial inequity within our education system” with emphasis on teacher diversity, eliminating educational redlining and segregation, closing the funding gap and a few other high-touch points that have been challenges in delivering a high quality education to Black students. Joe also said he’d reinstate Obama-era guidance on discipline reform.
While he’s dished out a number of executive orders in the past few days—including dissolving that silly ass 1776 Commission—the Obama-era discipline guidelines are still chilling in Betsy DeVos’ policy-land of horrors.
Granted, most kids aren’t physically in class right now due to the pandemic but that hasn’t stopped discipline disparities from showing up in virtual classrooms, and that doesn’t mean they won’t exist when full in-person classes resume. So while school discipline may not be high on the priority list, it’s an easy one to reverse real quick and will give Black and brown America a little reassurance that Joe is for real working for us.
And finally—hell, we just haven’t heard much about this plan since it’s appearance on the Biden-Harris campaign website. The Black Twitter streets are talking and wondering when our voices are finally going to get lifted by this administration.
Show us somethin’ that’s game-changing, Joe!
Another big thing is, Cindy Marten—Joe’s pick for Deputy Secretary of Education who’s a former educator and superintendent of San Diego Unified School District—has gotten mixed reviews on her handling of Black and brown students and families and her potential appointment doesn’t align with our immediate needs and demands.
Organizations like the Freedom Coalition for Charter Schools and National Charter Collaborative are side-eying this choice and opposing her nomination because she hasn’t been charter school friendly—and we all know they’re favorable options for many families in marginalized communities. We just had the conversation about school choice being the Black choice on my show, Talk Dat Real Sh*t.
The NAACP of San Diego is opposing her nomination, basically saying she just doesn’t do it for them when it comes to removing barriers and improving supports and outcomes for Black students.
And echoing all of these concerns is my sis in activism, San Diego native and parent, Christina Laster, who’s been going in on Marten on Twitter since she heard the news.
Bottom line, Black and brown people are feeling like Cindy is here for the status quo and not us. And for that reason, we have to start making our voices and demands heard early in the game.
And finally, America may have changed administrations, but it hasn’t changed its stripes.
I think it’s safe to say that last week, we were all on the same emotional rollercoaster. Us Black people in particular endured the most extreme racism these past four years—more than some of us have ever witnessed in our entire lives.
All of us that are believers and supporters of true democracy celebrated the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the nation’s president and vice president, while simultaneously breathing a long-awaited sigh of relief because Trump’s reign of tyranny has seemingly come to an end.
But a change in administration doesn’t magically produce a change in policy and practice. And it definitely doesn’t mean that America’s long-standing history of systemic racism and oppression is going to disappear into thin air. While I wanna have faith in this administration and hope they stand on their campaign promises, I know better than to get comfortable and assume that politicians are just going to do what they said they would without a push from us.
So with that, the fight continues.
One more thing before I go. At the top of the “Lift Every Voice” page there’s a slogan that says, “Battle for the Soul of the Nation”. Well, we (all historically marginalized communities) are that soul and we’re more than willing to fight alongside—or against—elected officials for the freedom of our souls.
This is why we’re calling on Biden and Cardona to prioritize educational justice for Black and brown families because there’s freedom in education—and we need to know if they’re really with and for us or if it’s American politricks as usual. So if you’ve been a passenger on this advocacy train, sign that letter on our site and let them know you’re in the battle for the soul of the nation, too.
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