Updated: Mar 31, 2020
-Lorreen R. Pryor
With the midterm elections behind us, many are wondering what is next. There appear to be some happy people on BOTH sides of the issues however there is still a contingent of Black people still choosing to watch from the sidelines because they don't want to be involved in "the system" by voting. Saying things like "you are caught in the matrix because you erroneously believe that 1 vote can make a difference." or "Black people are cooning for voting," which is disturbing at best. I absolutely understand the frustration with the way things appear, but what is the best course of action to correct it? In one word...ORGANIZING. We must organize to force changes in our schools. There has not been an active Black presence at the public school level (where a lot of our children are) and there seems to be no URGENCY on our part to correct that. We clearly see what's going on in our schools, but the problem is unless we are affected personally we don't act.
Since January, BYLP The Village has been heavily involved in student/parent complaints in Elk Grove Unified, Sacramento City Unified and San Juan Unified school districts. In addition to being a wife, mom and a full time employee at the State Capitol, I also work complaints full time. We get all kinds of complaints from teacher targeting, excessive discipline, racial bullying, accusations of sexual assault to erroneous arrests on campus. I attend various meetings with parents & students, law enforcement, school board members, school district reps (i.e. Superintendents, Compliance officers), principals and other school administrators and staff. I attend court dates, informal probation interviews and working groups with district administrators to help refine School Board Policies and Administrative Regulations before and after my workday. I rarely sleep or eat because I am constantly trying to figure out the best strategy and advocacy approach. It is a thankless job, yet one ingrained in my bones. I tell you all this not for pity, but because OUR CHILDREN need our help.
"Punitive discipline, referrals, and arrests are increasingly being accredited for contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline."
We see the consistent inequities within school districts. We see care and attention directed to the LGBT youth and resources deployed to address their concerns, but NONE directed at our Black children who are struggling nationwide across campuses with cultural incompetent teachers and administrators, under-resourced and over disciplined at an alarming rate. Our boys lead ALL districts in suspensions and expulsions followed closely by our girls. Yet NO MONEY is invested to figure out why the disparity exists and we are constantly wondering why these teaching cores need specialized training to deal with Black kids in the first place. Our children are seen as older and often criminalized for minor infractions based on perceptions that Black people are bad and incapable of feeling pain.
" Pain is universal. Everyone feels it at some point. But somewhere in the course of history, the world decided that people of color feel less pain than white people. "
It is a thankless job, yet one ingrained in my bones. I tell you all this not for pity but because OUR CHILDREN need our help. My advocacy team is currently is run by 3 people and we cover as much ground as we can. We do this work because we believe people in these districts are suffering from a heart issue. We DO NOT charge for this service because we know how much our community needs it. With our workload picking up significantly, we have to start to prioritize what needs our attention immediately vs. what we should keep an eye on moving forward. The general assumption is that we are magical Negroes who bully folks into submission or that we come in with half the information. People also assume we take every complaint we are presented with. There is NO WAY we can take EVERY complaint that we receive. We don't have the manpower for that.
"There is NO WAY we can take EVERY complaint that we receive. We don't have the manpower for that."
How can you help?
1. Join our Team - We advocate. We need parents and concerned adults to link arms and force an admission that something is wrong, and come ready to offer solutions on how to address the problem.
2. Get organized - we are in the fight for our children's lives!
3. Stay Engaged - Don't just show up when you are pissed off, show up at EVERY MEETING, EVERY TIME!
4. Speak up - We need parents and concerned adults to link arms and force an admission that something is wrong, and come ready to offer solutions on how to address the problem.
5. Be consistent - we won't be taken serious until we show just how serious we are!
Have a complaint? Let us know HERE