Updated: Aug 13, 2019
Hello all and welcome to ROAR's blog!
I'm Jenna one of the ROAR leaders and one of many who will be featured on our blog. As another school year comes to an end I find myself reflecting and asking myself, how in the heck did I end up smack dab in the middle of fighting for equity in our schools? So let's start at the beginning.
My husband and our three kids moved to the area last August from a small town, looking for more diversity and better schools. We knew exactly zero people from this area before we came. We are a biracial family, my husband is Mexican and I am white. Through the media I was starting to get a glimpse of what was happening in our schools and it was alarming. More alarming was the the lack of an appropriate response and swift action from the district. The mom guilt kicked in and I started asking myself what have I done moving my family here?
When researching where to move I made the mistake of looking at the overall numbers which reflects the majority experience (in this case white experience). I was feeling a little lost not knowing anyone in the district and I had no idea how or where to start voicing my concerns. Then Facebook stepped in and suggested an event I might be interested in. Chaska High School students were showcasing Black History Month posters which had been censored by the school.
First I had to ask myself what year it was in that BLACK history (AKA American history) was being censored in our schools. I had to go see what they were all about. I had a feeling the night would stir something inside me. Was I ready for that? Was I really as committed to the fight as I convinced myself I was? Well turns out I was ready.
That night I found myself in a room with community members from all walks of life equally mesmerized by the efforts and words these kids spoke. One thing that was going through my head as I listened was "I am not doing enough", I repeat, "I am not doing enough". Those kids ignited something in me and I'm eternally grateful for that.
Since that evening I have sought out opportunities to raise my concern and be proactive in the fight against racism and push for equity in our schools. I have been reading any and all material to help me understand my own implicit biases that cover topics such as white fragility, white privilege and how to be anti-racist instead of non-racist. I started going to district equity feedback sessions and voiced concerns there and to my son's principal.
Here's where things got hard for me as a fully committed introvert..the next step I knew I had to do was connect with people, talk to strangers and make friends. Que the sweating, nausea and social anxiety. I know all you introverts out there feel my pain.
Thankfully my fellow ROAR leaders and members have made it pretty easy and I soon found myself surrounded by an amazing group of people with shared goals. I also found myself in a role I thought I left behind in my younger days--grassroots organizer and boy does it feel good! Gone are the days where I thought liking/sharing a facebook post was "taking action". Back are the days of physical action and building real relationships by listening and respecting each others different experiences.
If you're wondering why the school board meetings have had such a huge turnout, it's because we have built a R.O.A.R. community of trust and support and we all know if we go up to speak, we have each others backs...and THAT, my friends, is an amazing thing.
There may be community members who don't understand why this work is so important and that's OK. It won't slow us down and we will continue to R.O.A.R. until we have no voices left and even then we still have the internet so yeah basically we will never stop ROARING!