What's Wrong with This Picture?
"I covered the public comment portion of the Atlanta School Board meeting Monday evening and saw a crowd that was about 80 percent white in a district that is almost 80 percent African-American. It's time for a change."
Ooooh. I'm going to catch it for saying this.
But it's O.K.; I don't always align with the popular, liberal view.
African-Americans in southwest Atlanta need to get more involved in the city's public schools system.
I covered the public comment portion of the Atlanta School Board meeting Monday evening and saw a crowd that was about 80 percent white in a district that is currently 78 percent black, according to the latest Georgia Department of Education enrollment data.
Before anyone "goes off" on me, hear this: Someone with the Twitter handle "jboogie52000" posted —in my Cover It Live Report on the public comment portion of the meeting that evening—that "I have not seen ANY speakers representing SW Atlanta yet! This is ridiculous."
Well, my quick retort to this person was: "In response to JBoogie52000 who says SW Atlanta parents need to "step up." I do see quite a few SW Atlanta parents here and they were here before the meeting began (I arrived at 5:45 p.m.). It seems E. Rivers showed up early and signed up to speak. Parents from other schools also have not been able to speak. Just want to be fair. Thanks!!!"
I wrote that because there were parents and supporters (from all ethnic backgrounds) from southwest Atlanta in the audience, as well as other people of African descent at the meeting, so I though the tweet was misleading. But, the truth is, enough of us were not there and those who did attend were “overworked” in speaking for us, if you know what I mean....
Come on. Let's keep this real. Though we have a sizable black middle and upper-middle class in this city with (private) school options, the school system still serves our children more than any other group. And though affluent blacks have options, the "Talented Tenth" has, historically, been the group to "pull up" and support those in our community with no options. We did it during the Jim Crow Years, we did it in the civil rights 1960s and we can do it now.
Why should we get more involved? Because over-committed southwest Atlanta parent activists like Shawnna Hayes-Tavares, Dawn Brockington-Shaw and Beecher Hills father Elliott Brown should not always have to speak for us; Because other people work the “third shift,” too, (a dozen Latinas with a translator made it to the meeting—at least two in work uniforms—so our blue-collar people can, too); Because we need to stop reacting to what “they did to us” and start becoming part of the decision-making process.
Why should we get more involved, southwest Atlanta? Because it's not that hard to take the initiative to create real power and influence for yourself and your people! I know we are a people transitioning from a very complex, underacknowledged slave history but it is only up to us to break those chains, folks.
Bottom line: You can make one phone call to the school board (404-802-2200), join your local PTA, attend the next SNAPPS meeting, network with the parents of EMC2 and take time off in advance to attend any one of the public board meetings listed on the APS website and posted right here (see PDF) any time you ever want to!
Yeah, I’m airing our dirty laundry. Yes, some northside white folks are going to read this and continue to think whatever they think about us.
But doing what I can to encourage my community to step up is much more important than worrying about what some other group might think of what I just said.
We can do this, southwest Atlanta. We can make a difference.