Support the Emerald with me! I’m the publisher’s mother and an Emerald founding board member. I’ve lived in Seattle all my life. Over most of those 76 years, the brilliance, diversity, and beauty of our community lacked a constant spotlight. That was until the Emerald came along. I’ve seen my son and the Emerald team sacrifice sleep, health care, self-care, and better salaries elsewhere to keep the Emerald shining a light on our community. I’d never ask anyone to make that kind of sacrifice, but I do ask to do what you can today to support the Emerald during our fund drive. Help us celebrate authentic community stories during the Emerald’s 7th Anniversary campaign April 26–May 5. Donate here.—Cynthia “Mama” Green
by Nhi Tran, Foziya Reshid, Thao-Mi Le
Advanced learning programs first made an appearance in Seattle schools during the 1960s with the adoption of the “Policy for the Education of Able Learners.” The program was created with the intent of providing every student with an education that would “challenge [their] maximum ability and meet [their] individual needs.” However, after introducing school busing in the 1970s, the district used this program as an incentive to keep white parents who opposed racial integration from pulling their children out of Seattle schools. This program provided select white students with an education separate from their Black and Brown peers, perpetuating a segregated school system.
Throughout Washington state, schools are required to provide “highly capable programs” for students they deem “gifted.” The state defines gifted as “students who perform or show potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels when compared with others of their age, experiences, or environments.” The state allocates funds for each school district and, in return, school districts must abide by the state Legislature’s policies regarding basic education, which were redefined in 2011 to include programs for highly capable students. However, as you will see, these programs are built upon a foundation of white supremacy and constructed with the intent to perpetuate the segregation of schools on the basis of race and socioeconomic status.
“I never started being an activist — it was always a part of me.” While only sixteen years old, Mia Dabney has made some impressive waves in the Seattle community. A junior at Cleveland STEM High School in Beacon Hill, she is both a prominent figure in the school community and in the larger area for her social activism.
Three years ago, if you were to ask me what the Black Lives Matter movement meant to me, I’d have given what I would now consider a lackluster answer. This is because three years ago, I was a seventh grader with a limited grasp on my identity and the world around me. Now, Black Lives Matter is a movement that holds so much weight it’s hard to imagine a time when I was so inattentive.
The 2017/2018 school year was the first year I participated in a Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action at my school in Tukwila, Washington, and it felt like a whisper. There was no energy or enthusiasm by the teachers I had because they were just doing what they were told, going through the motions with slides that were provided by anti-racist teachers with real passion, ones who educated and liberated their students all year round — teachers who saw the necessity in decolonizing the education system one step at a time, and, for the most part, knew how to. I was lucky enough to know such a teacher: Erin Herda, who has been teaching ethnic studies for years, despite endless push-back.
Unfortunately, the experience of only getting to have the necessary conversations, read the important books, and be taught true history if you have the right teachers is all too common.
by Josie Jensen, Alexis Mburu, Angelina Riley, Gian Rosario, and Eric Anthony Souza-Ponce
In October, when we, the NAACP Youth Council (N-YC), publicly launched our demands for racial justice in public education, we demanded that Seattle Public Schools (SPS) terminate its contract with Superintendent Denise Juneau, currently serving her third year of a three-year contract.
We knew that we, a coalition of anti-racist youth in Washington, were asking for a lot.
We knew from personal experiences as students in SPS that our voices would likely be ignored, but we had to be bold. Sometimes that means daring to say the things we feel and holding ourselves to a level of integrity, regardless of people’s perceptions.