by Reneeka Massey-Jones
In Washington State, we like to think we’re progressive, but I’m not convinced we know what that means. Washington State has some of the most backward, upside down systems in place that do an injustice to low-income folks and people of color: like our regressive tax code, over-policing students of colors in our schools, the ever-growing homeless population, and child hunger, to name a few.
That’s why on Monday, March 5, 2019 I rallied for equity with the Equity in Education Coalition in Olympia. I, other community members and leaders, and legislators advocated for a truly progressive legislative agenda and discussed how we can make Washington more equitable.
“Whether we are confronting government executives or elected officials, or school administrators, we are dealing with issues of power. For People of Color, the courage to act is easier when we act together. We need to show up, and stand up for one another in radical solidarity, and be a part of the change we want for the next 7 generations.”, says Debbie Siouxlee of the Nisqually Indian Tribe.
For me, it comes down to knowing that every child deserves a world-class education and because not all students fit one standard, we must work to meet the needs of all students.
Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, Senator Bob Hasegawa, Rep. Mia Gregerson, Rep. Cindy Ryu, Senator Rebecca Saldana, Rep. My-Linh Thai, Senator Manka Dhingra, and Senator Joe Nguyen — a few of the amazing members of color in the Washington State legislature — all attended, bringing forth bills and ideas that fight for justice.
To me it’s clear: we need to center communities of color and low-income communities in our legislation. By doing this not only can we make Washington the frontier for equity but we can benefit all Washingtonians in the process.
As Rep. Mia Gregerson said, “When the most vulnerable in our communities succeed, it means we all succeed.”
For instance, studies show ethnic studies and cultural training for teachers and administrators benefit all students not just students of color. We need to be progressive in implementing policy that gets rid of harmful bias and reforms unjust systems that currently don’t serve the majority of our students.
Especially, in regards to education policy, we know that so many inequitable systems interact to hurt our kids. Hungry students, homeless students, and overly policed students of color cannot learn as well as there roofed, fed, unbothered peers. Paola Maranan of Children’s Alliance said, ”A promising future for all cannot be constructed when stepping stones of opportunity are missing for this emerging majority of our child population. The inequities they face grow ever more urgent for all of us — the racism that threatens their childhoods also jeopardizes our shared civic and economic future.” This is why I rally for equity because all deserve to learn in a positive environment that meets the different needs of all students.
I rally for equity because everyone needs a roof over their head.
I rally for equity because food is basic to human life.
I rally for equity because families in our state and around the country are being torn apart.
I rally for equity because a child’s zip code should not be the predicating factor of their academic success.
I rally for equity because the children are our future and I know Washington is capable of so much more.
“The racial inequities kids of color face are not random. They were constructed and now must be deliberately deconstructed. If we are to bend the arc of history toward justice for all kids, we must focus our efforts on those who have been held furthest from opportunity.” (Paola Maranan, Children’s Alliance)
This is why Equity Matters.
Featured image courtesy Reneeka Massey-Jones