Equity and Social Justice

I’m from Mexico but I’m currently leaving in Tennessee. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to say but Shilpa just inspired me to just talk about my story and how I see equity and social justice in my life. As an undocumented youth living in the south and a question that he proposed; people like legislators believe that equity means that I don’t get to go college and people on the other side; I don’t know how to define it, think that equity means that I can’t have a driver’s license.

I just want to bring that up because before I was undocumented, before I was a young man, before I was a man, period; I was human and so I refuse to be treated differently for choices that I’m now in that I did not pick, like not having the choice to stay in my own country because the stuff there was so messed up that people don’t have the choice to stay. Migration is no longer a choice, it is a demand that if you want to leave and you want to provide for your family, you have to go somewhere else because the situation in your own country is no longer the same. That’s it, thank you.

Jonathan: Okay, we have two speakers that want to speak last and then we’re going to go ahead and move to the second portion of the open forum which is … once we do that we’re going to move the second part of the forum which is the open microphones and the questions that you posed in your triads.

Victoria: Some of you have met me; I’m Victoria, I’m from New Orleans. I’m extremely nervous right now. I’ve been doing public speaking for like eight years and my heart’s pounding right now and the reason for that is, because I was sitting over there with my friends and I was debating whether or not I wanted to even come up here and say anything. Because commonly in our society when you come up here, you come and speak out about things, especially if you’re black you’re commonly known as the angry black woman.

I’m not trying to be that and I love that you all are reacting to that but I’m not joking, that’s what it is and we shouldn’t think that that’s funny and it’s not because when you want to speak out about something, it shouldn’t be a joke. The thing that I really wanted to say is, for me as youth, this question itself is too broad and it just doesn’t work because like the man said before, it’s not why or how do we use it but why don’t we use it? And why can’t we seem to get there? It’s also like we’re constantly saying things like what is democratic education, we’re trying to make a democratic educational system but in actuality, do we even know what it is?

This conference itself, I’ve gone to many conference, I’m a youth I’ve been in education for 18 years. Even if I’m not a teacher my voice matters right? And so for me I’m just wondering how is democratic education anything different than what we might have already because as I sit here in workshops I wonder as we’re trying to define this whole new education, is it just something that was already here that we’re trying to give a new name like we commonly do for a lot of things?

Whether or not what we try to do … we’re constantly trying to get what we call democratic education but is what we’re doing now actually democratic education because at this conference you have less youth than you do adults. You have a major amount of adultism, you don’t hear youth speak up at this conference unless another youth says, “Hey let’s speak up.” I pose this question to you as adults, are you all really fighting for democratic education or are you just making something up and lying to us youth? Because it’s been many years and we’re done with it. We’re not for being lied to anymore; it’s time to be truthful to us. Lisa: It’s going to be hard to follow that that was beautiful. My name is Lisa and I flew in from New Jersey last night. I’m kind of a little disoriented but and also to speak to all of you. I’m thinking about the word equity and for me that word is harmony. How many are siblings? How many have brothers and sisters? Do you know what equity is? Okay, where did you learn it? At the breakfast table. He has more syrup than me; I need more syrup on my waffle mommy. How come he has more than me?

Your parent’s role, your mother or your father’s role was to teach you about equity from the time that you were crawling and then walking and fairness. I don’t think that equity and social justice is something that is foreign to us, we live it. It’s part of our lives. Equity and harmony means; is everyone being heard? Is everyone being taken care of? Democracy for me means acknowledging everyone in the room. I have a 10 year old daughter and when I teach her and when she enters a room, when she enters the classroom, when she enters … we go to a concert, if we’re in a store, I want her to be mindful and aware of everyone else in the space that she’s with.

Democracy for me means acknowledging that you share the space all the time. That it’s a privilege and it’s a right to share the space with other people. We teach our children what fairness is at the breakfast table, we teach them what democracy is whenever we take them out in public. It’s awareness of each other and that’s the best that we can hope for. Equity and social justice are a given, it makes life sustainable and if you don’t have it, it’s like having a pebble in your shoe. You really can’t get through the day, get through your week, get through your work, without it. It will nag you if it’s not there. Thank you.

Jodi: We’re going to move on to the second person. There’s a couple of folks that have been waiting.

Motaz: Is it time for me to … I just want to continue from what’s being said. Hi, my name is Motaz. I’m usually very talkative but this morning I didn’t get good sleep so I’m here with half a mind and I felt it was kind of hard to engage. Slowly I’ve been thinking something, there is something I want to say and it’s about a transformation I’m getting here especially the talk we had we had night. It’s really triggered now by this exchange that happened here.