How It Destroyed Me As A Black Student
Why did I go to school?
After reading Dr. Ricky Jones’ latest column, “How America’s School Systems Are Destroying Black Students and Educators,” I wonder why so many Black students and educators have fallen victim to one of the most America’s Murderers.
I’m still in the system. And the system destroyed me.
I have written several articles on the subject of educational reform. I wrote about my experience as a black student in the post-Brown v. Louisville Board of Education and shared different ways to overcome today’s racial dilemmas.
It will not be such a column.
Going to college during a pandemic and racial uprising has dramatically changed the way I view our education system, and I have no interest in further legitimizing our largely illegitimate system.
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Education is the most powerful investment in our future. Families around the world will give an arm and a leg to send their children to a “good school”. Individuals will go into substantial debt for this promise of a healthier and happier future.
And the resulting “student debt crisis” is far from racially neutral. A White House report shows that black students are more likely to borrow, borrow more, struggle to repay and default on their student loans than their peers.
I’ll give you a second to think about your racist rationalizations about why black people are a financially inferior group. After concluding that systemic racism somehow caused black people to acquire inferior financial behavioral traits that can be corrected through financial literacy (eye roll), I will show you, firsthand, the destructive tendencies of our school system.
Yes, race influences how teachers perceive their students’ potential for academic success. Yes, our school system has a long and ugly history of racial segregation. Yes, black students across the country exist in classrooms dominated by white students and white educators, and yes, black educators face many job insecurities and the same sense of alienation.
But what does this tell us about destruction? What does this tell us about the feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness students of color face at much higher levels than their white peers due to the mental burden of systemic violence. There are a myriad of studies to back up the claim that racism has a direct impact on mental health, but that’s not my point.
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We could say a lot about these researchers and the facts and claims of their studies, but I’m sick of the black study as if we were scientific anomalies that can be corrected with a new report or new task on health. To obligate.
Many of you are well aware of our destruction. The question is, do you really care?
Everywhere I look, people are suffering. My friends. My class mates. My peers. Myself. Drug and alcohol addiction combined with the hyperconsumption of dopamine-driven social media feedback loops sold to us by billionaire tech companies surrounds us so that we are no longer invested in healing , but rather in a self-destructive adaptation.
Institutions worry about their human capital and come up with different lectures and variants of self-care programs as if we are inefficient machines in need of a new self-maintenance update, instead of conscious people themselves realize the cruelty of an archaic education system that prioritizes competition and production over critical thinking and genuine care.
Did I go to school to learn to survive?
Inside this system, you learn who matters. Did these children, forcibly expelled from their classrooms by state agents, loudly protesting their situation, matter? Did kids who didn’t meet academic standards, athletic standards, beauty standards, matter?
Columnist Bob Heleringer once called me a “manifestation of the shoddy quality of public education in our community” and that I obviously had no idea what the word “fascist” meant. really supposed.
Once he saw that I was a “recognized” scholar at an institution of higher learning, then I benefited from the doubt.
I never chose to go to school. I was forced by law and my parents to attend. I mean, imagine the violent consequences if I had said, “No, I don’t want to wake up at 4:30 in the morning and travel across town to learn how to meet the standards of my peers and my teachers.” We can save the traumatic reality of the school-to-prison pipeline for another day.”
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I went to school and became exceptional. I thwarted the predictions. My parents allowed me to invest in a bright and comfortable future where I would have earned the benefit of the doubt in a world where my skin color automatically denies me that right.
I have earned the right to say that I am not one of the poor and miserable ‘others’ on the streets begging for alms. I am America’s bright future. I have become another symbol of neoliberal progress where my title and ‘recognized’ name will give hope to those in desperate need of food, safety and shelter.
And so I became destroyed. More myself. But another tool of oppression.
Quintez Brown is a writer at the Courier Journal. He studies philosophy and pan-Africanism at the University of Louisville where he is an MLK scholar. He can be contacted at [email protected]