Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    Respect for humanity

    How can we talk about equality in America when we don’t talk about systemic racism, sexism, and classism?”

    Kevin Powell demanded answers in his keynote speech to Peralta faculty at Laney Jan. 14.

    His words resonated like a slap. Wake up, people. It’s time to have some real conversations about power and equity in this country. It’s time to look at the power imbalances in our education system that routinely hold some groups of people back, and then labels them “under performing.” As educators, we have to do more.

    Powell suggested the radical idea (to some) that education is love. We must love our students. We must commit to find the best ways to educate young people — whether it’s using hip-hop, popular culture, technology or social media. And we must redefine this word “equality.”

    “I don’t want to be equal to nobody but myself,” Powell declared. “I’m not a minority. I’m a person of color, an African, a black man. I don’t want to be equal — I want my humanity respected.”
    How can students feel respected when they don’t see themselves reflected in the curriculum? Rather than equality, let’s look at equity. Find ways to level the playing field — so that all students
    don’t just have access to an education that mirrors the dominant paradigm’s power structure, but they have the tools to succeed, that they are welcomed, nurtured and supported in all their humanity when they get here.

    Powell’s words reminded me of what I wished I’d been taught, what I now wish to impart to my own students: Your voice matters. What you bring to the classroom — your history, your past, your pain, your wisdom — is vital. You have the right to ask questions and demand answers. To advocate for yourself and your community. The world needs your voice to make it a better place. So trust it,
    honor it, develop it.

    The old story of education was obedient students who followed the rules. There is a new story being written today. As educators and students, let’s rewrite it together.

    Jackie Graves is co-chair of the English Dept. Email her at [email protected].

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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