Dear Leaders of America,
My experience growing up as a teenager in the United States was from what I consider, fairly normal. I am from the suburbs right outside south Detroit. I went to a public school that enabled me to pursue higher education at Michigan State University. I have a middle-class background. I am decently privileged as a white cisgender female. Growing up, I thought nothing about social inequalities or any type of ism that affects people’s lives on the daily. I feel like I was privileged enough to ignore most of my surroundings. The biggest struggles of my teenage years included monetary struggles, mediating conversation between my divorced parents, and navigating high school drama. While growing into the woman I am today, I have become much more aware the influence of institutions such as government, religion, and education that have taken a part in shaping me as a person.
In saying that, I would like the elected leaders of today to reevaluate the historical narrative that we choose to pass on to our children. I feel as though our curriculum is designed in a way that glosses over vital information and perspectives of other groups such as Native Americans, African Americans, and Asian American. The way in which we present our history, integrate intersectional perspectives, and include diverse narratives may benefit our existing social structures. Our country has been divided long before the Charlottesville rally, however, it is now that ideas are rising to the surface. I believe that our education system can play an important role in recognizing the rifts between our people by presenting an honest look at our history. Conversations about race, gender, and class should be integrated earlier on so that students can begin paving the way for solidarity.
I work with a program at Michigan State University called MRULE (Multi-Racial Unity Living Experience). An aspect of my job is to facilitate weekly discussions on social justice issues, identity exploration, and current events. This semester we are working on a project to help students conceptualize how race is a social construct. We have had numerous conversation together, unpacking what that means, and how it affects us differently. In hindsight, I know that I would have benefited from having these types of discussions earlier on in my socialization. I recommend considering creating brave spaces for students to begin to understand their differences and similarities.
I would like to see an America where its citizens are not polarized by political ideologies or traumatized by presidential slogans. It would be nice to live in a country where we could genuinely and honestly recognize our past so that as a nation we can begin to heal and move forward. As the Leaders of America, I urge you to start the conversation and acknowledge our identity in the same way I am.
Photo by ChazWags