Our Work Continues

Every Vote Counts | Nikkolas Smith (IG: @nikkolas_smith) | Commissioned by Culture Surge

Democracy has spoken — voters have selected new leaders to move us forward to a better future. It’s time we come together to ensure the will of the people prevails.

We know that our work to advance racial equity in our public education system continues. This year has been challenging for so many reasons. Many who have had the privilege of ignoring white supremacy in their everyday lives have now seen it laid bare through the double pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic, anti-Black racism — seeping through all aspects of our society — from our healthcare system, to our schools and institutions of learning, to our democracy.

This election season, we’ve seen real threats to our system of public education. The current administration has sought to institute “patriotic education” that whitewashes and misleads our young people, ignoring calls for more relevant curriculum that reflects their cultures and histories. At a time when COVID-19 is prompting overdue conversations about equitable access to education and supports for students, families, and educators in the era of virtual and hybrid learning, the Secretary of Education has tried to redirect CARES Act resources from public schools to private ones.

In the midst of a pandemic that has left more than 200,000 of our loved ones dead and created the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, we have turned out in record numbers to vote. Voters have faced deliberate barriers from long lines to attempts to eliminate drop off locations.

Regardless, we have made our voices heard to pick new leaders who will care and govern for all of us. In fact, the number of early voters under 30 who were voting for the first time more than doubled from 2016. Our hope is that they are leading the way toward an America that truly lives up to its promise for everyone.

Now we will hold our new government to account — to not merely tackle the crises the last government created — but to make this a place where all of us can thrive, especially those that have been most harmed by our current systems and practices.

For the sake of our democracy; for the futures of our young people, we are marching on. For us, this means investing in our future by ensuring that all of our young people have access to an equitable and excellent, student-centered education that honors their individuality, culture and history. From recruiting and retaining educators of color, to rethinking disciplinary practices, to implementing anti-racist teaching and learning, to removing police from schools — let’s commit to ensuring our young people feel valued, known and supported in their growth and in exercising their gifts and power.

We remain committed to standing up and behind our partners in the fight against white supremacy and anti-Blackness, especially in our education system. We know that so many of you have been tirelessly working at this day in and day out. And while we celebrate the integrity of the vote-counting process across the country, we know the work is not done. We remain committed to fighting for a more just and equitable world, and still envision a future where all children and youth have access to an equitable and excellent public education. The words of Ijeoma Oluo remind us, “This election doesn’t change the work we need to do, it just determines how much harder that work may be.” The work continues.

Our Work Continues was originally published in Nellie Mae Education Foundation on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.