We have folx, in our society who take a reactive approach to maintaining good health instead of a proactive one. Think about it. There are certain folx who visit the doctor every single time they have a cold, cough, or aching pain in their body. They’ll immediately ask for medicine or the nearest pharmacy they can visit so they can rid themselves of the illness and move on with their regularly scheduled lives.
Although the doctor prescribes the medicine to the patient, they also communicate alternative ways for the patient to maintain a clean bill of health that don’t require the use of medicine. The advice may sound like committing to eating a healthier diet, drinking a gallon of water daily, or exercising at least four days a week. The patients hear the doctor but they don’t take in the life-saving advice being communicated to them. All they care about is the medicine. As long as they have that, all of their pain will go away! In their minds, committing to eating healthier and exercising regularly is too much work. The medicine provides the “quickest” return to good health. However, it doesn’t guarantee longevity or a sustained bill of good health.
And there lies the reason why folx who maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly generally live longer lives than those who don’t adopt those habits. Analogously, the school districts and educators that engage in proactive and continuous capacity building end up being more active and reliable co-conspirators in the ABAR education movement than those who engage in performative actions or simply turn a blind eye to the oppression and inequities that exist within their schools.
With the increased media attention on the systemic racism and other oppressive acts that have plagued our education systems for so many generations, many school districts are experiencing a sense of urgency to address these issues. Although this heightened awareness looks good on the surface, it often comes off as being reactive and performative because the awareness generally stems from the school district’s motivation to shut down the negative publicity to protect their reputation as opposed to engaging in the real work necessary to dismantle white supremacy culture.
Ultimately, there are too many school districts and individual educators looking for a PRESCRIPTION to combat white supremacy instead of a SUBSCRIPTION. When I say prescription, I’m referring to the immediate fixes, the “band-aid” solutions, the multiple ABAR book lists circulating the Internet, and one-day whole staff DEI and ABAR workshops that too many school districts seek out to avoid having to do the real paradigm-shifting work that’s required to combat systemic racism and inequities within their schools.
On the other hand, a subscription speaks to a long-term commitment to engaging in ABAR work. A commitment that forces school districts and individual educators to understand and embrace the reality that the journey to being an ABAR educator is a marathon and not a sprint. In other words, a subscription reinforces the fact that no magic pill will eradicate the presence of white supremacy culture within our schools and beyond. A subscription is a personal call to action that follows after an honest assessment of where you personally stand in your engagement with ABAR work.
In 2021, it saddens me that we still have too many folx who are looking for PRESCRIPTIONS to fight against racism and white supremacy and not enough folx obtaining SUBSCRIPTIONS to join the fight. With all the information available to us in this technologically advanced era of social media, there is no reason why we should still be in this position.
For those of us actively engaged in ABAR work, we naturally PRESCRIBE with the intention of pushing folx to SUBSCRIBE to the work. When we call IN folx, we PRESCRIBE a book, a podcast, a learning resource, or an alternative course of action that will repair the harm that they’ve imposed and restore peace. When we call ON folx, we’re taking it a step further by placing the onus on others to step up and SUBSCRIBE to the work.
As imperative as it is for us to be in the prescriber role, we have reached the tipping point where we need to decenter ourselves from that position and create space for others to subscribe to this fight. This is something that I personally still grapple with to this day. A part of me always wants to share the load with others, but I don’t always have the faith that certain folx will follow through with the call to action. Now, I’ll admit that’s probably not the right mindset to have, but the disappointments that I’ve experienced over time have greatly informed my thinking around this.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that we abolish the prescriber role in our work as ABAR educators. Truthfully, that will never happen because, as subscribers, we are de facto prescribers. I know this first-hand because, as a subscriber of ABAR work, I write articles, publish books, host a podcast, and use my social media as a tool to guide the misguided and inform the misinformed. As a subscriber, I have an obligation to share information that will push others to disrupt the oppressive systems that dehumanize and marginalize our most vulnerable communities. Given the overwhelming emotional and physical labor required of this work, it is humanly impossible for me to do this work alone.
Therefore, I’m calling on you to seriously reflect on the following questions:
- Why are you not a subscriber to this important work?
- What challenges are preventing you from becoming a subscriber of this work?
- At what point will you become a subscriber to this work?
Think about your students and teaching colleagues who are most negatively impacted by your inaction. For my white teacher colleagues, think about the power and privilege that you can leverage to push for systemic change within your school communities. Think about the Kyle Rittenhouses of the world who continually benefit from and are protected by this white supremacist system and the Julius Joneses who are continually failed by it. My sincere hope is that, after your reflection, your spirit will be moved enough to join me and many others who are already deeply entrenched in this work. We need you and we welcome you with open arms as long as your heart is in the right place.