United we Stand
Jada Thompson is a Middleton High School Alumni who is now on the staff at CSCS. She recently delivered this speech at a rally in Middleton to unite the community to end racism. We are so fortunate to have Jada on our staff and are so appreciative of her willingness to model the way!
“This soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live. We are wrong of course.” ~Toni Robinson.
I spoke these words 3 years ago, at Middleton High school’s 2017 graduation. I was a teen then. Now at 21, agitating the system couldn't be more important than it is now. Middleton's soil is selective, not all flowers are nurtured, nor at times, even seemingly wanted in the garden. As a staff member of Clark Street Community School, I have seen what plowing the soil can do for our students, I’ve seen what the future can hold; but we can’t seem to get there. I’ve watched so many students of color arrive at its border, only to have their dreams die at its gate. I find myself questioning if it’s worth it to struggle, even if you never arrive.
Harriet Tubman once said, “I had reasoned this out in my mind, There was one of two things I had a right to, Liberty or death; If I could not have one, I would have the other.”
Our world is in its current state today because we ignore the muddy waters and polluted air that we continue to feed.
It is clear that we’d rather die holding onto the false narratives that have failed us time and time again, than hold on to each other. We fear our neighbors, only to justify the fear of ourselves, the fear of our past, and the fear that we can’t undo it. James Baldwin believed, "Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within." We can no longer afford the mask that our society has worn for too long in exchange for lives being lost.
Education can derail the ignorance that we have normalized. We can start by questioning the systems we work in; How does the school system’s education model put our students of color at a disadvantage? What does it say if we accept black and brown students failing at a higher rate than their white peers? How have our systems undermined The Civil Rights Act of 1964? How has our local demographics affected people of color? Do our work environments support people of color? If not, how can we change that? How are people of color neglected of their human rights in our community? What are the hard truths we need to know about ourselves and our community, that we need to accept if we are going to be serious about change?
A bullet can kill you instantly, but a system built on oppression is just a slower death.
Martin Luther King knew that, “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” Basic math shows us that changing the variables will have similar outcomes every time until you change the equation. We grew enough roses from concrete; We’ve marched until our feet bled; We’ve fought enough wars; We’ve seen enough evidence. Now it’s time to put our money where our mouth is. We need more than words, we need action. We need minds and hearts open to the realities that we, as people of color, face daily; Without this, we will fail at every turn. I want to live in a world where the number of bodies in a classroom outweigh the number of body bags that silence them, and don’t you?