Update: One Month In

 

There were many, many people who responded, commented, and shared my first article (originally written the night after my daughter started school). Some were uplifting and encouraging, and I am overwhelmed and humbled by the feedback. And some were, well, not encouraging. There were the responses that I was expecting, telling me that I was making a mistake, that I was using my child as a pawn in my self-seeking mission to live my values, and that my children would pay the ultimate price. That there are so many other ways to not be racist without getting involved in such a controversial discussion. That public school was a shame and a sham and that I wasn’t fit to parent. Some mentioned gangs. Really. Gangs. And there were people who wanted to explain how their case is different. And I understand that too.

 

And then there were other critiques. Critiques from people in the ally-ship space. People I deeply respect and those were hard to hear. I wanted to run away, once the comments started coming in suggesting that I was arrogant, that I was self-serving, that I wanted, or demanded a pat on the back.  That I wasn’t thinking about classism. That I was a blowhard who had the audacity to send my kid to a poor school wearing a fancy backpack. That I wasn’t thinking about the perils of gentrification or that my presence in the school would be another loss for this community, that I would attract white people who would continue to propagate white supremacist values and make yet another space unfriendly towards POC and low-income families. That what I am doing is school “gentrification” and it is wrong, wrong, wrong.

 

And to those comments, I want to say, I HEAR YOU. I think the fate of public schools, and the larger conversation of desegregation is absolutely one of the most complicated conversations we can have as parents. The complex issues of race and class in regards to education are such big topics they cannot be fully explained or sorted out in one, albeit long, blog post or tweet or Facebook status update. But they are conversations that need to be had, by many stakeholders. I am no one’s savior, and I understand the hazards the school faces by our participation. That I have a responsibility to be intentional and thoughtful, that I won’t do it right unless I am constantly checking myself, my privilege, my motives, in everything I do. That connecting is what matters. Listening, accepting when there are consequences to your actions, being willing to set aside personal gain for community benefit.

 

And learning that my “good intentions” are simply not enough has been important, critical to doing my best to show up at my daughter’s school not as a colonizer but as one of many community members. And that has happened through Integrated Schools, an org that is building a grassroots parent movement for integration. Come find me in that space. {www.integratedschools,org}

 

On a personal note, I feel compelled to share (BRAG ALERT!) what a wonderful experience we have had so far at our daughter’s school. She is very happy, and we are enjoying beyond measure the friends we are making and things we are learning. And, I will add for emphasis, that I stopped by the school one day to drop something off and saw the entire 4th grade class on the blacktop with yoga mats completing sun salutations and downward facing dogs. So what do I know anyway?

 

 

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