Student reflections: If our schools are not equal then the future will not be

Written by Jules Pow, a Minnesota middle school student

I go to school in a very white district so there are very few Black students. I and other Black kids who attend my school have experienced racism in the past, from kids excluding us and saying racist stuff behind our backs to teachers mixing up our names.

It’s not easy being a Black kid in a white school. Nobody understands except for the people exactly like you. Other Black girls and boys feel out of place wherever they may be. You would feel weird too if for four months a teacher called you the wrong name, never considering that maybe they’re pronouncing it wrong. “But that’s okay, I’ll just stick to the easier names like Sara, Isabelle, Noah, instead of taking time to pronounce a little harder of a name.”

You don’t say anything. You keep your head down. What’s the point? It’s already second quarter. How do you even manage to say a name wrong for that long? But it doesn’t matter, “it’s just a name right?” Wrong. To you it might be a name but to me it’s what gives me individuality. What’s it to you? You don’t care.

It's not just the teachers—kids will say something or do something very offensive without even knowing it. One time a kid called my friend a dark chocolate muffin, and you might be saying “that’s no big deal” but it was to her. What he said was not okay and it offended her but he got away with it. That’s the biggest issue in my opinion. They say something and get away with it, no consequences whatsoever. They don’t learn that they can really hurt someone’s feelings and most of the time they will just walk away without any remorse.

It’s not fun being somewhere where you’re always a little uncomfortable. Welcome to Black History. Black History is always uncomfortable, talking about how your ancestors were killed for having Black skin. How you’ll always get glances at you from white people almost to say “wow, tough life” like our lives are miserable.

This year due to Black Lives Matter our school has decided that if your kid doesn’t want to learn about Black History they do not have to partake in Black History. I can’t stress how unbelievably selfish and stupid this is. That’s like saying you don’t have to learn about a crucial and important part of history because it might make you feel guilty or the slightest bit of empathy for what we were forced to live like. Well as long as you have no remorse right? Wrong.

Is our world improving? Yes. But it should not have to take this long for Black people to finally get some rights to stand up for themselves. To fill the world with peace and kindness our future starts at our schools, so if our schools are not equal then the future will not be. We are getting better daily and I cannot wait to see what the future will bring.

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