All This Performative Pettiness in Activism Diminishes Our Collective Power

Activism Diminishes Our Collective Power

A friend of mine says she’s “done with protesting for the time being” because it feels like everyone’s just in it for the “photo op.” Here are five reasons why we shouldn’t be so quick to judge, and why you should be at the front of the line:

For a long time, we have been told that we have to do activism in order to fight for social justice. However, as for a lot of things, it seems we have not learned anything. The truth is, our activism usually ends up with us wasting a lot of our energy on feeling good about ourselves. For example, the other day I was browsing through my RSS feed, and I stumbled upon a bunch of tweets by famous people, containing hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, etc. These hashtags have been used a lot over the past year to express what is happening in the world, and what we are struggling to do to make things better.

word-image-1888 *I need all black education activists to join me in the church basement IMMEDIATELY! I don’t like what I see on social media. More specifically, my frustration is with the bickering between communities and the minstrel shows in the media that target the wrong audience, some of whom are known enemies of the black community. There is too much discord and advocacy in the black activist community right now. We don’t have time for that… we have work to do. – PeeplesVoice (@PeeplesChoice85) June 3, 2021 And as a side note:

If anyone expects me to go nasty and name names and recipes, go ahead, because I won’t – I’m trained not to bring family matters to the street, and besides, I’m only hurting those who are clearly on the wrong side. All this pettiness and pandering to the unsympathetic masses diminishes our collective strength and distracts us from the real and urgent work that needs to be done. The attacks on the ban on critical race theory – which in reality is a conspiracy and a racist operation to prevent the teaching of real American history in schools – are intensifying.

This week marked the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre. With all this talk of Black Lives Mattering, equality, unity, blah blah blah, you’d think lawmakers would have conversations and adopt policies to compensate the descendants of these families. Instead, they are playing hot potato with this issue. And in complete contradiction to the commemoration, the governor of Oklahoma appeared on television and spoke out against teaching racial concepts, mandatory diversity education, and authentic history.

I just saw a video of the governor of Oklahoma responding to a bill to include events and education about the #TulsaRaceMassacre in all schools in the state. He said taxpayer money should not go to the doctrine and hate department. His comment was ridiculous and insulting. – PeeplesVoice (@PeeplesChoice85) May 31, 2021 Second, I don’t know if many have noticed, but I’m still stumbling over the fact – but certainly not surprised – that the hate crimes bill was rushed through, while the bill against Emmett Till has been sitting at the Senate door cold, hungry and abandoned since last year. Lol! I told you the #COVID19 Asian Hate Crime Act would be on @POTUS’s desk soon! Meanwhile, Emmett Till’s anti-lynching bill is still on hold. With freedom and justice for all…. except black people #America – PeeplesVoice (@PeeplesChoice85) May 18, 2021 And to be clear,

I am against hate crimes against any group and support legislation to stop them, but I am also too tired of 402 years of unchecked, state-sanctioned violence against black people. As I prepare us for the longest running series of tragedies and horrors in history: America vs. Blacks, let’s relive an episode we all know in our fight for educational justice: the educated Black is a dangerous Black. While we should be worried and concerned about the above issues, hundreds of thousands of black children will return to full-time education this fall, with outcomes and investments that may be even worse than before the pandemic.

Let’s focus on the part about losing students and losing learning. In October 2020, Bellwether Education Partners released a report showing that about three million students – all from marginalized communities – have not taken physical or virtual classes since March of this year. They are considered lost. What we can say with certainty is this: Districts will rush to do everything in their power to get these lost bodies back – not necessarily because they care about their education, but because they need those dollars per student to stay afloat.

But unfortunately, we also know that some of these children will be lost forever in our communities: Research shows that two-thirds of children who drop out of high school never return to school, and it is possible that some of those who return will drop out again. I’m not an expert on retention, but I can assume that one of the reasons these students end up dropping out is because they are too behind, so they lose knowledge. Whether you believe in fainting or not, I think there are two facts that support its existence before and after the pandemic.

First, even before Covid, black children had learning disabilities – either because they were expelled from school and came through the school-to-prison pipeline, or because of a lack of investment in teachers, mental health services, and limited access to quality education. In addition, administrators and educators are pressured to set and meet expectations for their work. So, with these expectations on the back burner and history as an indicator, I think there will be a lot of cutbacks in classroom learning, which will also lead to the loss of knowledge. And one more thing: Because of Jerry Springer-inspired bickering between unions and school districts, the pressure of the pandemic and other reasons, some teachers have resigned, which could lead to a shortage next year – as if we didn’t already have one.

My point is this: For years we have been deprived of the basic needs our children need to succeed in school. Most of them leave the system hungry for knowledge and quality education and end up desperately fighting for the crumbs from the table that this greedy country degradingly throws at them. The pandemic has only exacerbated these problems and we must continue to take proactive and targeted action in this regard. It is not part of our ministry or our history to demean one another. It is not in our best interest to speak out for a racist white media that laughs and mocks what we are going through.

We don’t have time to entertain or uplift actors who need to rise above society. As education activists, we fight for children along with other activists who want to break the trend of injustice in education. Let’s get back to normal.

 

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