Introductory Note: In July 2016, I returned to Saint Mary’s University, CBU’s sister school in Winona, Minnesota, to teach in the Countdown to College (C2C) program. The program seeks to provide would-be first generation students from underrepresented groups a pathway to college. As part of the final graduation ceremony for students completing their 4th year of C2C before they head into their final year of high school, I was asked to have some of the students share from the work their prepared in our college writing course. I also posted my 2015 remarks here.
The election of Donald Trump has led to increased fears from Latinx students about the educational futures, as the president-elect has vowed to end DACA. To suggest the students granted DACA should be deported is to misunderstand their contributions to our society and economy. In hearing the fears of some of my CBU students in the past 5 days, I understand their fear, and I know that we must fight to preserve DACA and to offer sanctuary to these students.
In the spirit of standing in solidarity of all underrepresented students affected by Trump’s proposed agenda and in dedication to standing next to these students in the struggle to come, I share my 2016 C2C graduation remarks. We can learn a lot from the wisdom these students have gained in situations and neighborhoods that have already been too neglected and too dangerous.
Please call your elected officials and ask them to pressure the president-elect to preserve DACA so the hardworking students protected by it can continue to pursue the educations that will help them forge the more just future from which we will all benefit.
My August feature essay for The Whole Horse Project is available now.
Check it out: Into the caldron, ideology, education, and life itself
When opportunities to study race systematically are cut, then the university or state declares that black lives matter less. When opportunities to study gender are cut, then the university or state upholds patriarchy. When opportunities to study poverty are cut, then the university upholds economic domination. What remains is education for capitalism and for hegemony, preparing people to participate in markets and not disrupt them. – See more at: http://www.wholehorseproject.org/?p=311#sthash.kLQanocV.dpuf
On September 4, 2014, the NAACP Tennessee Conference officially granted a campus charter to CBU. As a faculty co-advisor for the campus chapter, I had the chance to deliver the following remarks:
Remarks as Prepared
Tonight, as a faculty advisor for the CBU NAACP Chapter, I have been offered the opportunity to say a few words to mark this important event in CBU’s history. I am honored. The Lasallian Christian Brothers have long had a commitment to educating the poor and underrepresented as a means to bringing about a more just society. On the grounds of this campus, Br. Terence McLaughlin acted against the orders of Church leaders who told him it was too soon to integrate Christian Brothers High School. Defying the wishes of Church leadership, Br. Terence acted in defense of fairness and equality, admitting Jesse Turner as the first African American student on August 16, 1963. Christian Brothers High School became the first high school in Memphis to desegregate. Bishop William L. Adrian chastised Br. Terence for moving too swiftly, writing, “Up to this, we have followed the policy that integration be authorized only when the pastors of Shelby County approved; this included high school integration. Evidently you misunderstood or ignored this.” Br. Terence had not misunderstood the Bishop’s directive; rather, he understood that acting justly required breaking unjust policies.
Today, CBU is one of the most diverse university campuses in the South, but we cannot rely on our past and present. As a university, we must prepare students for future challenges. A college education is an investment in futurity—future careers and earnings but also future civic engagement.
Why do we need a chapter of the NAACP on a college campus in 2014? As someone who teaches about race, culture, and history, I see the difficulty students often have in participating in open discussions about race. For too many students, the topic feels taboo. An NAACP chapter on this campus ensures that students will have the opportunity to discuss and learn about the ways prejudice affects people. Education creates a foundation for advocacy and empowerment. Education is the foundation of justice. Continue reading