The events of this year have put a spotlight on big systemic chasms in our country. But big systemic chasms stem from the little things we do and say every day.
Recently, we heard about an ICCSD teacher giving an assignment that asked kids to pretend they were enslaved Black people in America. This is unacceptable. Not only is it hurtful and anxiety-inducing for Black and Brown students, it misses an opportunity to reframe and meaningfully teach an informed understanding of slavery and U.S. history.
Because smartphones are now everywhere, we are witness to the horrific reality of Black men and women having the breath literally squeezed out of them. The level of trauma experienced by Black Americans is compounded by exercises like this high school assignment. It is incumbent upon all of us to recognize the ways in which we all use racism in our everyday lives. I include myself in this. It is no longer enough to say that we are not racist and sit on the sidelines, we must make the choice to be actively anti-racist in every moment.
We cannot keep stumbling around as awkward allies in this moment. We all have to get uncomfortable, acknowledge that there is white privilege, and let go of the fragility that keeps us from making true progress. We will make mistakes along the way. We must own and learn from them so that we never make the same mistakes again.
State Rep. Amy Nielsen