Stand up!!!


That’s exactly what happened today at MacKenzie High School, (a Detroit Public School) when reportedly 200 students “marched up and down Wyoming, many chanting “No books, no school.” The students complained they have to share books in the classroom and can’t take them home. They also were upset about a new uniform policy implemented last fall and said bathrooms have toilets overflowing with feces and some students urinate in hallways.”

I’m not sure if you can sense it but there is a rumbling going on that is slowly making its presence felt. Young people are protesting in France, the Palestinians voted Hamas into power, Latinos are mobilizing like wild fire over the current immigration reform bills before Congress, and now students in my beloved hometown are stepping up demanding better resources. What makes me so proud is that these students were not “led” by old school civil rights leaders and as a result, they couldn’t be used as a backdrop.

Going beyond the picture
You are probably surprised that we posted a picture to accompany this post because you have never seen us do so in the past, but there is a point to be made that words alone can’t express. We are not permanently changing the format but if you read this story without the picture you might miss the significance. The young lady speaking, Christina LedBetter, is holding a bottle of Sprite and what I presume to be her talking notes. Now compare that image to what you normally see of so-called Black leaders; memorized talking points and catch phrases along with a bottle of water.(that they never use by the way.) My point is that she was being herself and she wasn’t being coached or managed. I’m not saying the students looked like bums but how many of you would get on camera fighting for justice if you were not looking right? And please don’t say yes too soon.

And do you see the tall brother standing behind her? His arms are crossed and his face, like the others is serious and I think it is symbolic of the fact that Black men have less of a problem being supportive of Black woman than what most would think. Beyond that, their faces convey a sense of urgency that I don’t see very often. And if the students have been reading all the negative statistics about Black youth and their bleak chances of achieving their educational/career goals, then they knew that they need a quality education right here, right now. And just like our forefathers before us, these students are taking control of their destiny and demanding a quality education. So before you continue, take a minute to let this image sink into your conscious so you are aware of what’s at stake.

The preparation
What I think people forget about most the civil rights movement is the preparation and sacrifice that people never saw or heard about. As such, I am proud of the preparation it took these students to get over 200 students to walk out of class. 200 people are not a clique. This event took thoughtfulness, determination, and effective communication because you know some people were on the fence, but was won over by the peer pressure to stand up for justice. Just imagine what will happen when they improve their organizing skills and present a whole new paradigm for correcting the system.

The sorry principal
Principal Bernard Bonam, I don’t know you very well but even if the newspaper took you of context, but you never should have said, “They don’t give a doggone thing about their education… and many of the problems are caused by students themselves, such as those who toss their textbooks out windows onto the schools greenhouse or others who stuff toilet paper into the toilet.” And people wonder why so many Black people are not pleased with the state of public education. For starters, you have to take people at their word and if the group was chanting, “No books, no school,” then that shows me pretty clearly they care about their education. But how many times do people have to say that schools don’t have enough textbooks, classes are overcrowded, the maintenance is shotty, and there is too much administration and not enough education. The students had enough and they demonstrated. But here is the real problem, why should kids ever have to protest to get enough books?!?! I mean fa real fa real. Could you imagine your wealthy suburban high school having kids march talk about “No books, no school?” That sounds silly right? Well if it sounds silly for suburban students then why in the hell doesn’t it seem silly for inner-city students?

Which brings me back to Principal Bonam, why are you blaming the students for the school’s issues? I’m not denying that there are some troublemakers but here’s a new rule that might help you. Get out of your office and get in the hallways and the classrooms. If you know kids are throwing their books out the window, how in the world can you say that you have an adequate number of books? Lock the windows!!!!! And then you tell me it is not in the budget. What about your budget? Open up your wallet, sell some candy, I don’t care, but don’t just wallow in what’s wrong, offer some solutions and ask yourself, “What can I do to make the situation better?”

This question also applies to the person reading this post because even though you may not work in the education field, we all have learned some things along the way that make us extremely valuable in being a resource and inspiration to our youth. Markell Donaldson, a Mackenzie sophomore, said “If we don’t walk out, we won’t get recognized.” Let’s wrap our hearts around all the Markells in this country so they know that the community is there to serve them in school so they don’t have to walk out.

Big Superspade shoutout to all the students that organized today, I applaud your integrity and willingness to stand up for what’s right. We stand with you in the constant fight for justice.

Stay up fam,

Brandon

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2 responses to “Stand up!!!”

  1. Tone says :

    Brandon Brandon Brandon,

    I think that it can be a good thing when younger people take a stance on an issue and demonstrate to support it. But just because somebody is protesting doesn’t about a cause doesn’t mean they’re in the right (the job law riots in France that you mentioned is a perfect example and probably warrants its own post). With that said, I feel that you are unfairly characterizing this situation at the expense of the principal and in support of the students.

    Talk to someone who is working in a high school and then tell me how much these cats care about their education. I was just sitting in my brother’s math class earlier today and Man, the outlook is bleak. He’s had students straight up tell him, “you can’t make me learn if I don’t want to.” The principal was absolutely right, a lot of these kids, “don’t give a doggone thing about their education.” Public schooling system isn’t designed to handle that mentality in excess, especially when parents aren’t there help counter it.

    You’re criticizing what the principal is doing and personally attacking him without knowing what it is he actually does. You have no idea how he manages his day and spends his time. You don’t know that he isn’t out in the hallways getting after the kids. You don’t know that he hasn’t locked windows to keep kids from throwing books. You have no idea how much he has given of his time, his money, or himself for that school. I feel like there is so much of the issue that you are glossing over by just calling the principal sorry and leaving it at that. Keep in mind that I’m not saying that his is doing all the right things. I’m just saying that neither of us have enough information to offer a valid criticism of what he’s doing either way.

    As far as what the man said, I’m looking for what it is that you find so objectionable about it. The newspaper quotes him as saying, “Major violators, low grade point averages, … They don’t give a doggone thing about their education.”

    Now I tend to believe that most cats failing in high school have a don’t problem, not a can’t problem. When you look at what he said from my perspective, his point looks pretty valid. If indeed the students doing relatively well in school were not present at the protest, then it would suggest that maybe the protest wasn’t as much about education as they would have you think, since the students doing well are the ones who really care about education.

    He also pointed out that “many of the problems are caused by students themselves, such as those who toss their textbooks out windows onto the schools greenhouse or others who stuff toilet paper into the toilet.” This isn’t the first time detroit public schools have had a problem with students clogging up toilets with paper. Back then, when administrators stopped putting toilet paper in the bathrooms, people were outraged about it. So what is he to do? Since one of the students greivances was of the maintenance of the school, he’s making a valid point that this concern is made worse by their peers.

    Why protest now? What’s changed all of a sudden. Schools don’t run out of textbooks overnight. Schools don’t tear down themselves overnight. But schools do try and pass dresscodes overnight. I’m willing to be that’s the real reason why these kids probably took to the streets. You’re right, high school kids never protest about not having enough books. But high school kids both rich and poor, suburban and urban protest over dress codes all the time.

    There’s another thing I think you missed. Bamn organizers were present at the protest. Everybody knows how much bamn can muck up a legitimate issue with misguided, ignorant protesters. Ignorant niggas are their specialty. Bamn has more ignorant niggas waiting in the wings than the Vibe music awards. “No books, no school” that sounds like something counterproductive that bamn would come up with.

    My take on the whole thing boils down to this. The students are in a crappy educational system. But the principal isn’t the only one to blame for it. The the parents, teachers, administration, the city, the media, and the students are all factors contributing to the crappy educational situation. It doesn’t do a service to the students to take away their due part of the blame. Like I said, most cats failing in high school have a don’t problem, not a can’t problem.

    Damn man, I really didn’t mean to write this much about this. I guess I just felt so strongly about it since I just left one of my brother’s bad math classes earlier today. I hope I didn’t come off too harsh or anything.

    -tone

  2. t.HYPE says :

    I say kudos to the 3 kids who actually cared enough about their education to say something. If things are as bad as they claim, they should just file a class action suit against the state like the kids in Hartford, CT did when I lived there.

    Tone, I hear you on how wack a lot of students are because I used to be a sub. People can dis communism all they want but if any child in a communist country came to school with a line like, “You can’t make me learn,” they’d beat the hell out of him then BAN him from school. It works.

    Moving right along, I’ll have to side with Brandon on the principal based on this quote: He pointed to one of the girls at the head of the crowd and said: “She’ll never get an education if she had three books she could take home.” Come on!!! They need to send this guy on sabbatical. He’s had enough.

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