I’m writing from the perspective of a former public school teacher. Because I want us to remember that we need continued action months and years ahead.
Black kids are disproportionately born into poor neighborhoods. And they remain there because our country has created a system where it’s virtually impossible to get out. These neighborhoods feed into a school system that’s under resourced because the neighborhoods don’t have the property taxes to provide teachers, food, emotional safety, mental health, and on and on and on.
So it’s by design then that these kids—my former students—fall asleep in class because a quiet night at home is unusual. Fail their exams because studying is a luxury that comes after having something to eat. And skip class regularly because that’s how often funerals happen in their neighborhood. It’s a feature, and not a bug, that these teens—my former students—become adults who go for a jog or drive to a convenience store. And are murdered for living a life that was dealt.
And that is a tiny glimpse of racism from my time in the classroom. It’s not an act. It’s not situational. It’s by design that black people are often in bad places at bad times…because we hold them there as a society.
As a San Francisco Unified School District teacher, my of my students had free and reduced lunch at Burton High School. Because the wealthy families pulled their kids out of public schools and enroll them in private ones. So our district was left with a lot of marginalized families. Parent volunteering, donations, teacher appreciation week…those were rare things.
And this is part of the root problem. These private school kids grow up without understanding their privilege. This privilege translates to a generation that reinforces the institutional racism in our nation. Not overt racism, but covert racism.
So our Asian community needs to do more to support Black Lives Matter. We are privileged. Not because of our skin color, but because we’re accepted as the model minority. And that acceptance has made us blind to the police brutality and injustice against Black Americans. That acceptance has kept us quiet. That quietness is reinforcing the status quo.