Jail is back in session! I mean, school, right? I can’t tell the difference these days.
On the first day back, faculty members and staff set up a cute show for news outlets to showcase Gibbs’ 90-year-anniversary and how much the school has “improved” with our new school grade of a “C,” challenging the previous year’s “D” score.
Upon entering the gates of Gibbs, you found staff and faculty holding signs saying “welcome back” and “Dare to “B” Great.”
Freshmen may have been fooled into seeing this “warm welcome” as a great introduction to their high school life, but upperclassmen like myself saw this as a cover-up.
After we entered our homeroom classes to receive our schedules, Principal Hepburn greeted the school with the new “Dare to ‘B’ Great” slogan. Since the school hopped from a pitiful “D” grade to an equally horrible but slightly better “C” grade, he is pushing the students to make the school a “B.”
We were corralled into the school’s auditorium where Hepburn went on to pull statistics of how black students perform in school and their graduation rates compared to non-black students. The statistics revealed that non-black students graduate at a rate of 94 percent and black students graduate 15 percent less at 79 percent.
Does he have any idea how embarrassing that is? In a room of 400 plus students, with around 150 white students, us black students are graduating at lower rates than they are? We felt so silly even sitting in the same room as those white kids, and it’s a predominately black school! Is this what he calls progress?
Is this what’s going to get the school to a “B” grade? It doesn’t even stop there.
Hepburn literally said that if you have problems or issues with how this school is run, keep it confidential and within the school. Don’t write articles or papers about the school.
The African students were caught off guard when he said this because he was directly targeting the First Amendment right of free speech with that statement. He then mentioned the article I wrote entitled “Back to jail” in last week’s edition of The Weekly Challenger.
This attack on my article is a direct disunity with our First Amendment right to free speech. I wrote that article as a way to express what many of us African students experience at this prison of a school, and no matter how many rules and policies they change and alter to loosen the brute terror, this school in its current state will never work in the interest of its majority African students.
Will being silent and turning a blind eye to the police terror and slander appease our principal? How are we not supposed to bring the struggles that we go through at Gibbs to the light of the media?
We should not hesitate to showcase and expose the lies within those prison gates that conceal us Monday through Friday. Not forgetting the topic of police terror, students were gladly shown a picture of young Africans like ourselves restrained by police officers in the grass and on concrete with yellow letters on top reading “Let’s End the Cycle.” This is criminalization at its finest!
No white student in this assembly was shown in a demeaning way. This is because Hepburn needs to pull out all the card tricks to make sure that his beloved PCCA program is properly pulling in these high test scores to uplift the contradiction of the traditional students test grades.
He must not tread too lightly or else he will receive backlash like no other for slandering young children. Why is this not the same reality for us Africans? Where is this sensitivity to our needs and struggles in this school? Like I referenced in my first article, “Let the African youth speak!”
We cannot allow corrupt leaders to preside over the education of our children because it takes a village to raise a child, and if this village is being led by the likes of Hepburn, our community will reflect that corruption.