by Alexis Mburu
They say we have to learn our history so as not to repeat it. While I do believe the saying to be true, we must think beyond this sentiment in our current age because there’s a lot more to history than what we read in books.
In the past few months, we have seen a massive insurgence from Republican politicians pushing to ban critical race theory from K-12 schools. These pundits and conservative Republicans describe critical race theory as anti-American rhetoric, racist and abusive, and teaching their children to hate their skin color; all of which are not true. In fact, critical race theory (CRT) is not even taught in K–12 schooling and there is a large misunderstanding of what it actually is: a tool in upper academia, specifically in law school, used to analyze the U.S. legal system and its intersection with racial oppression. Instead, the term has been used to represent the idea of anti-racism being taught to students and the seemingly more rage-inducing topic of teaching a true, non-whitewashed portrayal of this country’s history.
Continue reading OPINION: The Liberation of Knowing History
by Maile Anderson
An enthusiastic crowd of teachers, parents, current Seattle Public Schools board members, and candidates for the school board gathered at Medgar Evers Pool at Garfield High School on Saturday, June 12, to show solidarity protesting the passage of bills in several states banning the teaching of critical race theory.
The debate over restricting teachers from including the history of white supremacy or incorporating ethnic studies in the curriculum is nothing new. Those who support banning it see critical race theory as racist, unconstitutional, and designed to make white people feel guilty. In fact, critical race theory examines how racism is intersected and maintained in public institutions. As many speakers at the rally made clear, the goal of critical race theory isn’t to pit individuals against one another, despite what so many politicians and media have twisted it to become.
Continue reading ‘Teaching the Truth’ Rally Defends Critical Race Theory in Washington State
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.
Continue reading Why the NAACP Youth Council Is Demanding the Dismantling of HCC
by Beba Heron
(This article was originally published on the South End Stories Youth Blog and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
“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.
Continue reading Youth Activist Mia Dabney Is Making Waves in Seattle
by Alexis Mburu
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.
Continue reading Why We Need Black Lives Matter at School in 2021 — and How to Get Involved
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.
Continue reading OPINION: Why We, the NAACP Youth Council, Are Demanding Superintendent Denise Juneau’s Termination
by Kaley Duong, Edan Gortzak, Alexis Mburu, Aneesa Roidad, Gian Rosario, and Leah Scott
Beginning its fourth year of advocacy, the Washington NAACP Youth Council (N-YC) is kicking off the school year on Monday, Oct. 5, with the virtual event Launching the 2020-21 School Year of Racial Justice to unveil our demands for the new year and promote Black Lives Matter at School’s new Year of Purpose.
Continue reading Meet the NAACP Youth Council and Their Plan for a School Year of Racial Justice