I’ve been angry for a while now; angry at the racist systems in play within our society, and angry at how racism is unregulated within the education system. I’ve been in Seattle Public Schools my entire life, and I’ve watched these inequities play out for my entire life. The years I was in the honors program, I felt the struggle of being the only black student in the room. I’ve felt shame that other black students didn’t get the opportunity that I had to be in the honors program. I realized after a long time that neither were my fault because this is all intentional and systematic. The honors program is harming students of color in two ways: it pushes the majority into lower level classes where they are seen as inferior, and the few who are in the honors program are forced to assimilate to make it through.
It was the winter of sophomore year when I knew I wanted to do something about it— and something big. I came up with the idea of writing a book that looks at the education system through the student of color perspective. I interviewed students for months until I had enough information to start piecing everything together. I wanted to shed light on the racism we face, and break it down for people who are unable to see it.
The last part that I realized I had to do was incorporate my own story because it would be powerful to give an in-depth, first-hand account about the failures of the education system. I’m shocked that I was able to write that story, and even more shocked that I was willing to share it publicly. One of the scariest parts of putting my full story out there was that I was publicly coming out as transgender. I’ve known I was meant to be born a boy for a long, long time, but I never wanted to come to terms with it. After coming out, I’m comfortable with the gender identity I express to people for the first time.
In August, I released my book, “You Failed Us: students of color talk Seattle schools,” and since then it has turned into something I didn’t imagine happening. I watched how my words gave people an understanding around the issue. Students of color came back to me after reading the book, and said that it made them feel heard, and validated the experiences that they’ve had. I’m seeing changes already because of the work that I’ve done, and I promise that I will continue fighting for it. I want to invite everyone to join in on this fight— we can’t allow the education system to fail their students of color any longer. Together, we are powerful, we are loud, and we will be heard.
For questions, email [email protected]
If you want to buy a copy, visit https://tinyurl.com/youfailedus.