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Rouwen voor de levenden - een brief uit de VS over discriminatie

17 juni 2020

Drie weken geleden zette een witte politieagent zijn knie op de nek van de zwarte George Floyd. De laatste overleed en de eerste zit in voorarrest. George Floyd is het zoveelste slachtoffer van discriminatie. Sindsdien worden overal in Amerika en in de rest van de wereld Black Lives Matters demonstraties gehouden en staat het thema rassendiscriminatie op de agenda in elk actualiteitenprogramma. Deze week ontving Rikie van Blijswijk de nieuwsbrief van Mission Hill, een wereldberoemde Essential School in Boston met daarin persoonlijke verhalen van de directieleden over deze kwestie. We delen een verhaal uit die nieuwsbrief. 

Dear Mission Hill School Friends, Families, Students and Staff,

The recent murder of George Floyd is mind boggling, outrageous and sickening. The questions that enter and re-enter my mind weigh heavily on my heart and fill my spirit with grief.

My grief however is not only for the countless numbers of Black lives lost to the hands of police and others. It is not only for the families and loved ones left shattered by the deaths of their husbands, fathers, sons, uncles, cousins, grandfathers. It is not only for the communities left torn apart. It is not only for a nation that is repeating its history it has not learned from the past. My grief is for my son. It is for him and for every other Black male in my life.

As a mother of a Black man, I live in fear daily and my fear is rooted in one thing only: the perceptions of him by others. Though no parent is perfect, I am proud of the job I and his other family and extended family members have done raising him. Sadly, a part of that raising was and still is having conversations about how others see him, especially as a Black man. As he’s gotten older, he too realizes our nation's preoccupation with race and how that affects him. I wish I could say he has never been stopped by police. I wish I could say he hasn’t been accused of something he didn’t do. I wish I could say that he feels safe in the presence of law enforcement. I wish I didn’t get that feeling in the pit of my stomach when he’s a little bit late coming home. I wish I didn’t have accusatory thoughts when a white person tells me what a “good kid” he is. I wish I didn’t have to explain all of this to my granddaughter when she gets older, but I will. I wish I didn’t have to experience reports of people committing modern day lynchings of our Black men… but I do.

Grief. It is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “deep sadness caused especially by someone’s death”. Why then do I grieve the living? Though this grief can be overwhelming at times, the words to Sweet Honey in the Rock’s Ella’s Song encourage me to fight on. I hope this will encourage you, too, and if not this song, something or someone else you connect to as we all move forward in our understanding, growth and healing.

Jenerra Williams

*Student artwork included in this newsletter is from last year’s schoolwide theme Struggle for Justice through the Lens of African-Americans.

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