(Pictured: Gladys G., Age 18, Oklahoma City, OK)
I have found myself in a weird position. I am too tired to fight, but I am also enraged by the things going on around me. Lately, my emotions have led me throughout these times of distress, but what happens after this? When the marches stop and the public outrage has died down, what do we do next? As someone who is always focused on my next steps, I decided to look deeper into what needed to be changed.
Looking at our history, I saw one thing that always reigned true – education is powerful. White slave owners prevented the enslaved from reading and writing. After slavery ended, educational inequities persisted as predominantly black schools were given a fraction of the funding as white schools. The remedy to racism has always been in our faces. Our oppressor has always known the remedy; they just refuse to implement it. I have often been asked by my white counterparts how they can help. I always respond with “educate yourself” because so many of them have made judgements on us and our culture. Most of them are missing important information and they chose to remain ignorant. Racism continues to thrive because so many people are still uneducated about the black struggle and our history.
For so long we have fought back with peace, violence, and our words, but the most powerful tool is education. America has used the power of indoctrination to keep racism alive. Our history is not being told to the extent that it needs to be. Children are not aware of how this country was built on the backs of Black and Native people. I believe implementing changes in the education system and its curriculum will change everything. It is a known fact that racism is taught; no one is born a racist. They have been taught those ways from a young age. We can’t give all of our focus to the people who don’t want to change and are stuck in their ways. To cure racism we have to focus on the next generation of Americans. Like Nelson Mandela said “children are our greatest treasure. They are our future.” The younger generations are our key to changing how black people are seen in society and finally getting rid of the racism epidemic.
The education system is failing our society because it is not teaching the full truth of our history. It is time that we don’t just brush over the impact of slavery and the pain black people went through and continue to go through. Racism cannot be fixed if we continue to allow people to turn a blind eye and be ignorant. Because of the pain I have felt from watching my brothers and sisters die in the streets and because of my own personal struggles with racism that I have felt in my education and everyday life, I have been searching and searching for the answer to the disease of racism. Like I mentioned earlier, the solution has always been in our faces: education.
I realized that education was an issue when as an Oklahoma resident I spent years not even knowing about the Tulsa massacre. That is so disheartening because even when we did talk about what happened in our own backyard, we only spent one day on that part of our history. So many children, fathers, and mothers were murdered because of hatred. Bodies of people who had families, and careers piled into ditches left to rot. Yet, we never talked about this tragedy in depth. We learn more about foreign history than our own.
I believe I have found the solution, but it is not on the black community to cure racism. We can express our demands and point our oppressors in the right direction, but it is on them. When people become educated on our issues and our history, we will finally see change. When people understand the history of lynching and the terror on our communities and they don’t automatically deem those murders a suicide, we will see change. When people stop indoctrinating their children to hate black people, we will see change. When the education system decides to do its job, we will see change. I hope I am alive to see the change come.