As 2017’s time on this earth fades to black, 2018 is waiting to take its place in the sun. As I mined through the events of 2017 — from national disgraces to local blemishes, there are many themes at a macro level that I believe will forever be attached to the year 2017: sexual assault, overt racism, and youth suicides. When assessing local patterns, 2017 for “progressive” Nashville will be the year for moves that work against its poor and Black populations.
Many events grabbed my attention throughout the year, but the themes that bore down and pierced my core derive from behaviors that I’d like to leave in 2017. For instance, America’s fleeting appreciation of Black women, the stance against charter schools and the families who choose them by the “oldest and boldest” civil rights organization in America, and the complicity of those witnessing egregious acts without saying a word.
Out With The Old…
Oddly enough, I feel as if I have a spiritual tie to 2018 and the message is clear: there is no room for nonsense as there is much work to be done.
So as we leave 2017 in the dust, here are 4 things that should stay with it:
Faux-Inclusion of Black Women
You think we don’t know. A superficial hire here (see Omarosa), a board appointment there. A couple tweets celebrating our votes that secure your place at the table. A cursory invitation to the table only to discover there is no chair (see #BlackWomenAtWork). And that one Black girlfriend… Yep, we know and it’s old. Like 2017.
In 2018 and beyond, please honor our worth. This is of far greater value than our vote or what we can lend to your credibility.
I read once about Nashville being a progressive city. If progressive means clearing out poor, Black residents to make room for richer, whiter ones; or prioritizing soccer above indigent care; or acting as a city on the rise while more than 85% of its public school children in poverty fail to read at grade level then Nashville is progressive.
Nashville is 6th in the nation in both gentrification and homelessness. Most Black and brown renters’ pay upwards of 50% of their salary in rent. The city needs more than 30,000 affordable housing units. Meanwhile, robust efforts are employed to secure support for $5 billion transit plan and $26 million soccer stadium. I suspect these are not the values of a truly progressive people. The faux concern for our fellow sister must go with 2017.
In 2018, let’s be honest about who we are or restore our moral obligation to our sistren.
Pro-Public Education Bit
It’s no secret that the righteous indignation that cloaks this proclamation is a direct shot at education reformers. From political candidates to the PTA, pro-public ed supporters want you to know they are not here for your reform shenanigans. It doesn’t seem to bother them that they are pledging allegiance to a system ill-designed to fully educate its diverse population. Further, there is a refusal to accept that Black families are making choices and without anyone’s permission.
Please get a new label in 2018 – one that supports children and values families.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said silence is complicity and if we’ve learned anything from this year it’s that silence is no longer an option (see #MeToo, #Resist). While 2017 will be forever tethered to the rebirth of brazen racism (Charlottesville and the POTUS who supported it), it will also be known as the year powerful bullies took a tumble thanks to the power of one brave voice that led to a collection of courageous voices.
In 2018, our voice is our weapon against bullies, racists – blatant and unsuspecting, misogynists, and the people who protect, hire, and groom them.
In With the New…
As I look to the new year with optimism and a healthy supply of badassery, I must recognize 2017 as a formidable sparring partner. The gut punches that come from racism, sexism, and educational malpractice hurt like hell and stay with you, coloring relationships and decisions for the rest of your life. But thank God we have a choice!
I choose to take the lessons from 2017 and rock them into and throughout 2018. What does that look like?
- It’s honoring my worth even if you don’t and especially if you won’t.
- It’s being my sister’s keeper
- It’s relentlessly supporting parent choice
- And fearlessly exercising my power through the use of my voice.
Excuse me while I adjust my crown.
Wishing the best for you and yours! Have an amazing 2018.
This post is dedicated to the social justice work of Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner who was killed by NYPD. Erica joined the Black Lives Matter movement to fight for justice for her father and remained on the battlefield until she suffered a heart attack on Christmas Eve. Erica is currently fighting for her own life and needs our prayers and positive energy.