An American Education

When I was 8, they told me King had “A Dream”

He fought for civil rights the teacher said.

He fought for justice.

But did they ever explain the origin of segregation?

Seems like we talk about the past like it's not really America.

They told us Lincoln abolished slavery in 1865.

But you ever stop and realize that our educational system continues to segregate us?

I live knowing the achievement gap puts me at risk.

Because in America race isn't just appearance

If you're black or brown, you’re also labeled poor.

And I'm not saying there’s only one side of things because that'd be living in the same ignorance

But understand that since birth we are fed media to separate us.

To chain us to the same stereotypes and propaganda that fueled King’s dream.

In school, they taught us about King and Chavez

But that’s it.

Then we are taught about the laws and wars of the white man-

But we never truly confront the history which enables cops to get away with murder

Or the history which enables hooded men to claim “pro-white” is freedom of speech

 

The textbooks lied to you.

Because half of the truth is still a lie.

I hear racists say that blacks and Hispanics are bad people-

They say “the statistics about the incarcerated prove it”

You know why so many Blacks and Hispanics are incarcerated?

It’s the same damn system which supposedly abolished slavery.

The 13th amendment claimed no one could be held against their will, with the exception of criminals

So black men were persecuted and detained over false claims or the most minuscule of charges

Because you see, America went from slavery to mass incarceration, over its hunger for working black bodies.

And they still dare to say African Americans and Hispanic immigrants are nothing more than criminals?

They are blinded from the truth.

Because this system institutionally and inherently disadvantages people of color.

 

You know the United States imprisons more people than any other country in the world?

Why you ask?

Because of the War on Drugs-

Reagan tried to finish what Nixon started.

The War on Drugs grew the prison population by 900%

Blacks and Latinos locked up with extreme sentences.

While whites didn't have to face the same consequences for the same conviction.

Lack of equity thrived

And continues to thrive-

all because of the divisions and disconnect.

 

You ever heard of Shirley Chisholm?

Probably not because school’s have also failed to teach us the triumphs of minorities

Chisholm was the first African American woman to be a congress member and run for President

Or what about Ralph Bunche?

The first African American man to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

 

Some people act like the end to racism means pretending that race doesn't exist-

“I don't see color,” they say

But living in a colorless world is living in ignorance.

Brown and black continue to be hunted.

We live in fear for our lives.

America’s lawmakers stuck repeating the mistakes of the past.

 

I dare you to look past the surface level history we are taught in our public school system.

Seek what is hidden from you.

Seek the truth.

Break the cycle of ignorance and injustice.

Seek empathy and connection rather than the stereotypes we label each other with.

We can't wait another hundred years for change.

We’ve been looking in the wrong places for solutions.

We’ve relied too long on corrupt politicians-

Because we can't change the world if we don't change ourselves.

This poem is about: 
My community
My country

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