Lies changed my outlook on important figures in history and seemed to always paint America as the hero/peace maker, when many times the leaders of this country were the main perpetrators and oppressors.
Some students in some neighborhoods don’t have history books to lie to them, or any books for that matter. I want to stretch the idea of students being lied to in school, and explore the idea of inequality in the school system. The more people I talk to in college, the more I realize the gap of information that was taught to me in high school. This takes me back to all the different discrepancies that I fought for throughout my secondary educational life.
I never felt empowered. I was born in Los Angeles, then as a young child I moved to the south side of Chicago. Seven years later, I moved to a suburban area of Atlanta. Five years later I found myself in the urban poverty-stricken city of East Cleveland, Ohio. Living in so many different places taught me to see both sides of life. What I saw in Metro Atlanta and what I saw in East Cleveland/Chicago was not fair or equal. The most challenging undertaking of my life was the day I decided to stop being a bystander, and began to fight against the injustices that I saw in my neighborhood.
I noticed that this inequality in educational and community resources would perpetuate the stereotypes and tensions that people have between ethic groups and racial backgrounds. I was doubtful that anyone would listen to youth about these problems but I always use this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. to encourage me, “Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.” Regardless of my apprehension I knew I had to try to change what was wrong. I began to push my personal boundaries and leave my comfort zone by becoming a part of a non-profit organization called Ohio Youth Voices. Through Ohio Youth Voices, we developed a program called “urban-rural-suburban visits” where students from different socio-economic backgrounds would visit different neighborhoods and see the differences in culture, race, resources, and opportunity.
These visits taught me that students from different backgrounds are really the same. However, getting students from different places to realize this was the hardest thing I have desired to accomplish. Through perseverance and determination, these visits began to breakdown stereotypes. We decided to organize a statewide youth conference where a youth agenda was created that was eventually presented to Governor Strickland. I learned that youth do have a voice and an impact on the society around them. This was another step in the journey of my life and the first time that I truly felt empowered.
I can only hope (and fight for) educational funding in poverty stricken areas of the country are allowed the same resources and opportunities as affluent areas. It brings me one level of sadness to see people receiving history that is false, but it is far more damaging for students not to have books at all.