Today I find myself between a rock and a hard place. Where do I stand on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court? I have two perspectives – that of a black man and that of a school principal. Both equally critical and both very different views.
As an incredibly proud black man I know must lead and be a leader. This is an honor that I take very serious. Brett Kavanaugh has been selected as the President’s nominee as the next Supreme Court Justice – handpicked by the racist and bigot that currently occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It is virtually impossible for me ever to support anything that man puts his hands on.
However, when it comes to this particular choice, this particular man, possibly our country’s next Supreme Court Justice, I have to say, we have some professional converging interests. Kavanaugh supports school choice. So do I. As the principal of a charter school in Indianapolis, Indiana, my goal is to help provide a high-quality place of learning with highly-skilled educators who are ready to ensure our children are learning – especially our black and brown babies. I have the distinct pleasure of leading an all-boys school filled with predominantly black and brown young men, who look to me as someone who represents what’s possible. They hang onto my every word and solicit my advice – sometimes with trepidation because they aren’t used to someone actually being able to help them. It is my honor to serve them daily.
They want to know how I feel on certain subjects – hate and bigotry among them. Keep in mind that I have students who fear deportation of family members because of the current President of the United States. I have students who fear for their lives as black youth because of the current President of the United States. I have vulnerable eyes of children who look at me everyday as a person, a man, who they need to see get it right – make the right choices, have the right mindset, support the right people. They need me to represent for all of us.
So I’m torn – as a black man and as a supporter of school choice. How and where does my allegiance lie? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blind to the fact that Mr. Kavanaugh has a record for rulings that have upheld racial and workforce discrimination – much like the person who nominated him for this position to govern the land. It is quite clear that outside of school choice, Kavanaugh has a contempt for fundamental human rights for people other than white people. And that, I absolutely cannot agree with.
As a black man, Kavanaugh worries me. As a principal, he seemingly supports the same thing I do – school choice for all.
During Kavanaugh’s speech after being nominated, he said: “In the 1960s and 70s, she taught history at two large African American public high schools in Washington, DC., McKinley Tech and H.D. Woodson. Her example taught me the importance of quality for all Americans.” That touched my heart because I agree. Quality for all Americans is important. Being able to substantially impact those from underrepresented and under-served communities is something that I not only support, but I want someone in the U.S. Supreme Court who does as well.
So here I stand – between a rock and hard place – facing this difficult decision, walking this fine line because whether I decide to support him or not, one of those decisions will go against a significant aspect of my life. Each one I feel is extremely important to who I am as a person. There is a quote from Aron Ralston’s book Between a Rock and a Hard Place, that says, “When we find inspiration, we need to take action for ourselves and our communities. Even it means making a hard choice or cutting out something and leaving it in your past.” I ask myself what I will cut out and leave in the past? Will it be my disdain and hate for #45 as a black man because of who he is, or will be my passion for seeing school choice and charter schools be the lay of the land in education?
I appreciate being in a place of significance that my choice actually matters. And while I am conflicted, this is not a decision that I can take or make lightly. I must do so with diligence and honor. My students are watching.