I am drafting this letter while on a 14-hour flight to South Africa. While I am excited to enjoy the people, culture, wine, and beautiful landscape of the country, I am also preparing for what I will learn about the history. This will not be a cognitive exercise, I will feel the history in my body just as I did when I visited the “Door of No Return” in Cape Coast, Ghana. I was forever changed during that trip and I anticipate a similar experience in South Africa. I am going on this voyage with a purpose of tapping into the genius of Nelson Mandela and the African people who survived apartheid.
I have been moved by the active measures to right the wrongs of apartheid through the Truth and Reconciliation Commision (TRC). The TRC, a courtlike body, was established by the new South African government in 1995 to help heal the country and bring about a reconciliation of its people by uncovering the truth about human rights violations that had occurred during the period of apartheid. I’m eager to see and feel the effects of this practice in real time. The Truth and Reconciliation process has been employed in several countries over the last 50 years as a step towards healing national divides. It takes patience and an unwavering commitment to the truth and justice.
If we applied the truth and reconciliation process, what stories would need to be heard as it relates to the state of education? What underpins the less than optimal school experience many of our Black and Brown children face? At the same time, how does the single story of the “achievement gap” overlook concerted efforts to miseducate generations of Black people? What actions would improve the life outcomes for children, especially, those on the margins? One thing that I’m certain of, after 23 years in education, is that the quick fixes are neither nourishing nor sustainable. There is no new curriculum, AI technology, or instructional strategy that will save us. We have to save ourselves. If not through a process of truth and reconciliation, it must be through a willingness to be changed through an individual and collective reckoning with who we’ve become or who we’ve always been.
It is only from that place that we can create a new world for future generations. A world that embodies the idea that, “…we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality…whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” At Kindred, we endeavor to support school communities that are ready to embark in their truth-telling journeys. Join us as we collaborate with communities to create antiracist and liberated schools!