Earlier today, I saw a blog post regarding the tragic, but all too familiar event of another victim murdered by the hands of racial injustice. Her name was Sandra Bland. I left a response to this blog post stating that it seems like Black men and women are being hunted and murdered, as if hunting and murdering people is a sport. I made a promise that I’ll do everything that I can to help bring about freedom, justice, and equality in this unjust world that we live in.
As the list of Black bodies that didn’t matter gets a little longer each month (along with the growing list of activities that Black people apparently can not do), let us say a prayer for them all, and let us say a prayer for all of us. Now is the time to act. It’s been time. It’s always time. Now is the time to act, and bring about the change that we want to see. My name is Samara Marie Douglas, but I am Sandra Bland. Being Black in America proves to be complex, as well as dangerous. And as I sit here and write these words, I can’t help but to wonder will I be the next victim?
I’ve been an elementary educator for 20 years now, and incorporating weekly classroom community meetings into my day has proven to be an effective practice for me to get kids started on the road towards fighting for freedom, justice, and equality. Our classroom community is a safe haven for my students to express their innermost thoughts. It’s a space for them to express what they don’t understand about our world. It’s a space for them to ask questions about what they don’t understand, and to get answers. Our classroom community meetings give my students a chance to be heard and to be listened to. Our meetings help students understand that their voices are powerful. The power in their voices can fuel a fire to fight inequality and other ills of society, even at their young age. It’s never too early to start a crusade for change.
In our classroom community meetings, students have the opportunity to learn about the world in which we live, and to understand where they fit within our world. With this, comes knowledge of self and self confidence, which is needed to help them internalize that their lives do matter. Their words matter. This is their world too. During our meetings, students have the opportunity to brainstorm ways that they can make a difference in our world, starting now. It is my hope that my students remeber what they learn in our weekly meetings, and transfer these ideas out into the real world one day.
My hope is for my students to be the next Freedom Fighters. We’ve been traveling on a long road towards our rights of freedom, justice, and equality. It seems to be an infinite road with an uncertain end point. All we can do is put in work to get there and have faith. Someone has to continue this fight when we can no longer. The fight for these 3 deserved rights must go on. The fight for freedom, justice, and equality must go on for Sandra Bland and all of the other Black lives that didn’t matter.
I dedicate this post to my 5th graders who just graduated, and are now moving on to middle school. As I said at graduation, I’m very proud of all of you. I believe in all of you. I love you all. You were the best 5th graders ever. May you continue on your journey to be the best that you can be.