We Can Not Be Silent or Complacent

James Kale, Chief of Staff and Director of Special Projects at the Urban Assembly Charter High School for Computer Science (Comp Sci High)

This is hard. This 2020 school year has been hard. This week has been harder. It is the day after election night and I am still at the intersection of where skepticism, anxiety, uncertainty, exhaustion, tantalization and hope meet. The impact of this presidential election will continue to ripple through our schools and communities.

We can no longer be silent or complacent.

This time is glaring, and more apparent now than ever, we must take back our communities, take back our education, take back our voices, take back our future(s). Here and now, we must take a moment to stop and to remind or redefine for ourselves who we are and the direction in which we will collaboratively empower and mobilize our students.

Now is the time for us to come together and advocate for stronger and more inclusive communities. We must rally and fight for policy and cultural changes that strengthen our schools and communities. We must support policies that call for more responsive and inclusive systems. To break their silence and their generational chains, the minoritized voices of our society continue to speak out to shift the narrative of the status quo. However, there is an exasperated fear of its pushback to our fight for equity and a sense of belonging in our own home. In this moment, we must not fear change or the response, but embrace it and dismantle the structures that threaten our collective posterity.

Over the last five years, certain people and communities have been emboldened to harass, intimidate, suppress, and instigate violence against others. During this time, resistance became stronger and more obvious, but this very moment, this week, is the moment where we educators and community hubs must empower our students and ourselves to live our truth and make our demands our lived realities — racial justice, educational equity, control of our communities, agency over our bodies and identities, and the right to breathe.

Amidst a pandemic, our communities need to continue to rally together to support each other. Principals and school staff have worked tirelessly to provide laptops and equipment to students and families for functional and successful pandemic learning. Counselors have extended their availability and attention to engage with students and families dealing with the anxieties arising from COVID-19 and all of the varying disheartening ways that racial injustices manifest throughout our communities. With so much uncertainty wavering over this nation’s future, we must declare our place and become the nation that we proclaim ourselves to be.

During this time, we must affirm our students. We must ensure that students see themselves in their learning and their school community; that their experiences and perspectives are affirmed. We must take the necessary steps to make sure that our students are equipped with the tools and resources needed to (not only) liberate their minds and bodies (but also to navigate this tenebrous point in the developing identity) of this stolen land and infant nation.

The clock has rung and it is time for us to answer and honor the call of our duty to ensure that our students have the civic and professional skills for their post-secondary success and lead us into a brighter future that is not as dim, scary, or confusing.

We will get through this together! And we will win — together!

In power & solidarity,

James Kale, II

James Kale is the Chief of Staff and Director of Special Projects at the Urban Assembly Charter High School for Computer Science (Comp Sci High). James, a Fulbright Scholar, is a graduate of Boston College and the Urban Assembly Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice.

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