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The weaponization of education against Black kids didn’t stop with Tracey Meares

The weaponization of education against Black kids didn’t stop with Tracey Meares

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Our children are under attack, and education is the weapon of choice. It’s always been that way in America, because the plan is about first putting Black people behind, and then making sure we can never catch up. You do that by sabotaging children. 

Historically, that meant outlawing education for Black people. Then it meant pretending that education was equal. Today, it means hiding that history by making it illegal to teach about racism in America. Which is ironic, because Black kids learn about racism whether they want to or not. 

One of those kids was Tracey Meares, a graduate of Springfield High School’s class of 1984. In the runup to graduation, Meares was set to be named class valedictorian—the first Black student to earn the title in the Illinois school. But school officials eliminated the title, opting to have the high achiever named as “top student”, an honor Tracey was forced to share with a white student. 

A new documentary called No Title for Tracey is now exposing that story. But that story is only the tip of the iceberg. 

What’s clear to me now, as someone who graduated around the same time, is that there were some teachers and administrators who didn’t want Black kids to compete on a level playing field, and others who did everything they could to help us shine. 

But when you’re working against a system that’s set up for you to fail, it takes more than a few well-meaning people to bring change. It takes a strategy built on legal action. 

And as long as that doesn’t happen, we’ll keep seeing southern governors making laws against teaching Black history. We’ll keep seeing supreme court fights over affirmative action. We’ll still see our kids being taken from classrooms to jails. 

We cannot sit and watch another generation being set up for failure. We must stand and help our kids succeed.

Photo: Classroom By. Frederico Duarte

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