Yes. The pain of reconstruction is here. Now systems are shifting as many in the so-called-white-world admit that Blacks have lived through hell-and- survived hell for decades. In 2020, the civic responsibility of elevating the voice of people of color, took center stage in virtual classroom meetings while voting rights were streamlined to increase fairness maybe for the first time in U.S. history. At the same time, the metaphorical voice of the people loudly collided with the ancestors’ voice to demand that Black people be equally served by those in Blue; even the cops must tow this line! Young and old, black, brown, red, and white -a rainbow of ethnicities- will no longer accept NO for an answer. Reconstruction is once again underway.
It feels like a dream sequence. Are privileged white-Americans ready to share power and give up privilege? The preferred GOP status is highly valued over justness. Ask Donald Trump. But what those people are really groaning about is giving up control through this rebirth of reconstruction coming out of the shadows and staring us in the face.
Reconstruction is doing big things, and these are some of the ways I have seen how.
Reimagine Professional Development in public schools. The end of the school year 2019 – 2020, required my participation in professional development sessions. The usual suspect, inequality, definitely took a different tone this time. Traditionally, admin just ‘circles the wagon’ around the why of inequity, repeating the seemingly insurmountable PARCC test results/data with no cure to heal the nagging education-achievement gap that persists from one zip code to the next. This time, session after session, I realized the leadership was paying attention and knew they needed to align with the national conversation.
Even their targeted language began fostering a determination to not lose momentum. Finally, I thought as I took stock of my anxiety to not want to face another meaningless training, the District means business; their vigor towards an education practice of racial-inclusivity was showing! There was one elephant in the room, however, that had to be conquered before a victory lap, and that was the absence of Black professionals in the area of sociology leading our training sessions. By day two of the training that gross error in misjudgment was corrected because we the people spoke up and insisted that a credible change be made, immediately. In that moment, our school district was a microcosm of what the nation was experiencing. How could we move forward without changing the way things are done? Admin had to reconstruct their approach to all things equitable with intentionality.
For the remainder of the District-wide training, we were exposed to knowledge and insight from Black professionals with experience in their own communities and in their field of science and medical expertise. The result was life giving to the otherwise mundane training that left the development stage a long time ago. Finally! I imagined as I listened from one director, doctor, and social scientist to the next, Black Lives Matter protesters and supporters waved the banner of liberty and justice for all — and now we just might watch privilege go “POOF”! I know that won’t be the reality for every school/community/neighborhood, but change could be for real this time. Thank God for First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, an educator who will never stop teaching, and a real Secretary of Education pick, Miguel Cardona! The opportunity for change is here!
Voter Rights in Action. The quarantine bubble demanded that the nation STOP, take serious introspection, and make an about-face from the useless focus on nonsense that people pick—because it’s easy. Easy. Too many white people admit that they have lived within nonsensical choices to keep them inside the construct of a divisive bubble called privilege. Look at the Georgia senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, they sure changed that paradigm. Shout out to Stacy Abrams—she’s a General in the fight for fairness and equality. Abrams, and others like her, have a resolve to create a groundswell of support that demands equal access to vote and to protect what is legally every American’s right. The national conversation: Change now! Went screaming to the polls, and still echoes.
Police reform! I had a conversation with a young white police officer who was in D.C. for an annual police conference awarding officers for their service. I had not heard about the event, so I asked why wasn’t the event publicized? Wouldn’t that be good PR? Build respect for the force through camaraderie with the community? His response: the event was not publicized because of the tension in the country around police killings in neighborhoods of color. Well, why not reform how police, police? Stop shooting to kill unarmed Black people and find alternatives like wounding instead, especially when it’s an allegation and no weapon is present.
Train police to protect and serve—especially in neighborhoods where ‘blue’ violence is high. His response: that is too difficult to do; if the police force ever trained officers to wound, police would leave the job or people would never join. Police officers- are not trained as officers of peace, rather officers of force, trained to kill. This conversation made me stop and thank God for body cameras and people with cell phones causing the reform happening now. The stories of Amhad Aubrey, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks where the camera captured the bloodshed, and civil unrest followed. Thank God. I wish the eyes of the camera had been there for Breonna Taylor. My heart is so heavy though because it has taken shed blood to make room for this rebirth, but, we are here. Cell phones are part of reforming how policing is done, particularly in neighborhoods of color.
Answers to prayer. Suddenly, the floodgates are open forcing the nation to take stock of how stagnant race relations have been the last 60+ years. The protests, while many might say were unwelcomed, were the catalysts for the conversations happening from the streets, to the pulpit, from the schoolhouse, to the boardroom, and finally from politics and government, to policing. Yes, it is a partisan -even racially motivated cry- because until the racist elephant in the room is brought low, racism will color the choices that we make. We cannot lose momentum though! “Hold the line!” I hear the ancestors say.
The magic dust is here! We got to be like Thunder, in Black Lightning, when she stomps her foot and inhales, the power from within shakes the foundation –and Snap! With immediacy, the environment is changed. Ours might not be immediate, but the nation’s foundation is in trauma, it’s shaking and uncomfortable. From the terrible ugly narrative of 1619, to the short-lived Reconstruction period, clear through the Jim Crow lie, leveling off at the Civil Rights victories –and now the antithetical Trump takeover, holding democracy hostage, I declare we better keep stomping that foot!
This historic time is another Reconstruction attempt and cannot be just a moment. It is an answer to the deep bowels of prayer from the 1619 slave right up to this racist pandemic of 2020. I can hear in my spirit, a voice say, “Remember who you are.”
PUSH through. The world is watching. PUSH like a woman in childbirth who was told that she is carrying more than one child. She didn’t know until she got on the table. Too late now, can’t stop pushing. One is born, yet her pain seems unbearable. She cannot stop though because life is depending on her. That life deserves to see the light of day.
Gabrielle is a 20-year Veteran of teaching in private, charter and public-school education. She enjoys being part of a team that builds successful student outcome strategies, during national standardized testing. Gabrielle gets results. She also currently hosts academic-writing workshops for high school students, and college preparatory workshops to help parents, of high schoolers, know how their children should prepare for the next step. Gabrielle is the proud mother of two career professionals: her daughter, Brittney, marketing/public relations manager at the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, and her son Jared, who followed in her footsteps to become a fellow educator in secondary education. Gabrielle Dubose is blessed beyond measure. See her thesis published on ProQuest: The Disjointed American Education System Struggles to Fulfill the Original Mission of Educating All Children Equally.