In standing for all young people to have an education that honors who they are and sets them up to fulfill their dreams, we must confront the ways in which our society and systems unjustly diminish the worth, value, and freedom of people of color. We must commit ourselves to dismantling systemic racism.
Last week, the entire Education Reimagined team took turns writing and editing our first public draft of the commitments we strive to live into as an organization. We knew if the message did not include all of our voices, the commitments would not be collectively held or spur us into action. Together, we not only made commitments to the movement but to each other. And, I am grateful to not be on this journey alone.
This collaborative process was healing and energizing. And, it showed the remarkable leadership that lives within every single member of our team. That leadership and courage has continued showing up through powerful written reflections by members of our team—Shajan Abusalih, Jemar Lee, and Lindsy Ogawa. They each spoke up about their experiences as learner-centered leaders of color and their plea for white leaders to take up the cause in removing the oppressive barriers people of color must contend with every single day.
Within their words and those of many others, I hope we can all see how we are crippling our communities of color in ongoing and insidious ways—within education and beyond. What I have learned in this moment and from learner-centered leaders of color within our communities is that, as a white person, helping to dismantle systemic racism starts with actively listening with genuine curiosity and commitment to getting what I have not gotten about what it’s like to be a person of color today. Only then can the real work begin, standing on an authentic commitment to social and racial justice, courageously acting even when we’re not sure how.
This year has been full of discomfort and uncertainty. And, with it have come opportunities for growth and transformation—individually and collectively. Education Reimagined is leaning into those opportunities. We are having courageous and vulnerable conversations. We are celebrating and utilizing the gifts every team member brings to the table to advance our work. We are learning from leaders who have been fighting for a just and equitable society for decades.
Through it all, we are working to create and participate within new spaces of love and solidarity where all participants are committed to inventing a learner-centered, racially just education system that ensures our most vulnerable and marginalized young people, families, and communities have bright and fulfilling futures.