Photo Courtesy of Jamie Germano – @jgermano1
Cultivating Una Persona Educada: A Sentipensante (Sensing/Thinking) Vision of Education states that “Knowledge is neither exterior nor interior: it is simultaneously exterior and interior.” Meaning, the cure for a disease plaguing our outside world must come from within.
The human body fights to maintain homeostasis. What is the only way our internal alchemy can be thrown off balance? If/when the body becomes infected by an external pathogen that causes disease — “a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms” or “a harmful development (as in a social institution)”.
The human body is comprised of 30 trillion cells — each different but interdependent. When a pathogen enters the human body, how does it respond? First, white blood cells are produced in the bone marrow. These are the cells that lead the way in fighting off that infectious disease and returning to homeostasis. Knowing that racism has infected the entirety of our human body, comprised of 7.8 billion different but interdependent people, how should we respond? If the desire for power is the pathogen and racism is the resulting disease, the remedy starts with healthy bones.
Broken Systems = Broken Bones
The foundational backbone of human society is a combination of systems: housing systems, voting systems, law enforcement systems, healthcare systems, education systems.
Who knows our housing system best? Real Estate Agents because they understand redlining. Our voting system? Politicians because they utilize gerrymandering. Our law enforcement system? Police Officers because they’re “fighting” a war on drugs. Our healthcare system? Nurses because they’re on the front lines of COVID-19. Our education system? Teachers because they feel the differences between separate and unequal schools funded by property taxes.
If our society is founded upon a combination of these systems, who has the best understanding of how they all work together? Black and Brown people — because every single system was intentionally designed to work against them.
Since those historically in charge of creating these systems have been plagued by disease, it is no surprise that our entire society has been founded upon broken, racist systems. The subsequent imbalances, inequalities, and injustices of these broken bones are painful, distinguishing symptoms of the malaise felt most by Black and Brown people.
We know that broken bones can’t hold any weight until they are fully healed, that the body has a way of healing itself (repairing fractures on its own), and that time heals all wounds. We know that putting a cast on a broken bone helps shape the way it reforms. So, what is the best remedy for racism? Remembering to not forget. We must use historical knowledge to shape/mold the new systems that future generations will put in place. Adults must be the cast that helps heal our broken bones by providing young people with the tools necessary to engage in a long, treacherous fight against a conglomeration of seemingly omnipotent systems.
Education as a Remedy
Without proper education, it is hard to begin to conceptualize the historical gravity of the conversations that are being had today. The way Amazon sold out of White Fragility and Understanding Anti-Racism books last May is a direct result of many generations of failed education systems. This trend must stop with us.
Crossing Guards, Police Officers, Bus Drivers, Coaches — all different but interdependent. A universal call on all trades: we are the cast that will mold the bones of our future. WE ALL NEED TO SEE OURSELVES AS EDUCATORS. It is our collective responsibility to ensure our youth grows in the right direction.
I am calling for complete educational reform. Knowledge will give young people a platform to collaboratively, strategically, and safely make strong demands that are heard — demands that will one day form new and improved foundational bones for society.
Those who best understand the complexities of the systems we’re up against will lead the way in dismantling them from the inside, out. In order for this to happen, we need more Black and Brown people, and their allies, in positions of power. For this to happen, we need to separate school funding from property taxes. This is the only way to ensure all young people have equal access to educational opportunities that mold the systematic, multiscalar, eclectic thinkers of our future. It’s the only way to grant every child equal opportunity to see the world from a different perspective. If given the proper tools, the next generation of critical thinkers will become the antiracist agitators that will reform stronger, healthier bones than ever before. By focusing on the process of making the incremental, localized, community-driven change from the bottom-up, we will inevitably shape/mold healthy bones that will eradicate the disease of racism from within.