What’s a voice without a platform?

A Black student once wrote this line in a summative essay in the grade 11 English course, Indigenous Voices: “What’s a voice without a platform?”

This sentence has been with me for months and has guided many of my educational choices. Today, as part of my weekly commitment to blogging, I am using my platform because #BlackLivesMatter.

This is my platform and here are two voices of Black students responding to racism.

Dani wrote,

“Seeing everything unfold in the last couple of days have been crazy and disheartening; seeing the pain a lot of people are going through (not only Black people but White people as well… even they are tired of the injustice going on in that corrupt system). The craziest part about all this is my little brother being only 12 years old and it feels like he’s already used to the discrimination in our world. Just a few weeks ago it was #JusticeForAhmaudArbery now it’s #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd. With everything going on with the pandemic now I have to explain to my brother why being black is a blessing rather than something to hate. “

Dina wrote,

“The past couple of days have definitely been difficult and the Black community around the world is hurting and I am hurting with them. It has been a lot to take in. Hearing many ignorant comments like all lives matter or blue lives matter haven’t made any of it better. It is easy to look in from the outside and say the violence won’t solve anything. But as unfortunate as it is, it’s been proven to be needed. The Black Lives Matter Movement has been one of the most peaceful movements yet our brothers and sisters are being killed continuously. How long do you expect an oppressed group to stand by peacefully when they fear everyday that their children or brothers might be shot dead on the street on their way to school or work? This is years of intergenerational trauma, and peaceful protests haven’t stopped any of it. 

I think Andre, New York’s Governor, said it best. People are enraged. People are hurting. This is not a riot, it is an uprising; there needs to be clear changes in society. There can not be equality before you dismantle the systems that were never designed to protect you but create a continuous cycle of prejudice and racism against our people. This whole situation has been very eye opening, you get to really see who your allies are and who’s just posting just to say they posted or even those who love to talk, act, dress and be like Black people but are now mute when it comes to issues the Black people are facing. 

All of this just makes you wonder how much longer we have to live like this, is this going to my life forever? Is this how my children’s lives are going to be? We live in such hypocritical countries who flaunt their slogan of the land of the free, but this is not freedom; this is a way to live your life. Growing up having our parents telling us how to act if we any police encounters to not resist and do whatever they say even if it’s wrong, or when they told us to always be aware of your surroundings when you’re out because you never know when someone tries to frame you for a crime you didn’t commit. These things we didn’t understand but growing up you realize why they were telling us these things. You begin to feel numb, numb from the pain, the anger.”

And White students responded too.
Zoe and Ella wrote,

… I wanted to ask you whether there has been a message from the administration encouraging teachers to reach out to their black students and show their support surrounding the specific issue of racism and current events?

I can only imagine it is an extremely difficult and lonely time for them right now for many reasons, not only being students at a predominantly White school and in the midst of a pandemic but most poignantly seeing other Black people being murdered and weaponized. …

I am not sure if there has been discussion among other staff … on what is going on right now in the U.S and Canada, however if there hasn’t been I really hope you are able to encourage administration to share both resources for teachers to educate themselves on anti-racism actions so they can educate their students…It’s critical that teachers, who hold privilege and power, to lead by example at this moment. 

This is a call to action from the voices in our schools.


7 thoughts on “What’s a voice without a platform?

  1. Thank you, Melanie, for giving your students’ voice a place in your blog today. Black lives matter, and I have not lived most of my life with this burned into my heart and doing something about it. Now Dina has to ask, “All of this just makes you wonder how much longer we have to live like this, is this going to my life forever?” Oh, God, I pray not. May this time be the next giant step in Civil Rights. We are due for it, and then may we continue to take the giant steps going forward until we are finished and finally our creed really becomes self-evident that “all people are created equal.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your students’ words! They will change this world for better, I feel it, I believe it. What a powerful question – “What’s a voice without a platform?” It is wrong that our Black youth already know the raw pain of “fear everyday that their children or brothers might be shot dead on the street on their way to school or work.” Thank you for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your students are lucky to have someone who allows them to express their thinking and listens. Their words are powerful and worth sharing! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This line is going to stick with me: “This is not a riot, it is an uprising;” I am thinking a lot this week about my own platform and how I combat racism in my classroom. I think I do okay, and I am not satisfied with okay anymore. I’m reading ‘A Mind Spread Out on the Ground’ based on your recommendation to me a a few months ago. I borrowed it from the library but have now ordered a copy because I’m going to need to loan this to some people. Your students are calling all of us to action, not just asking us to empathize. Thanks for sharing this today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your careful eyes and ears, for always learning and planning to do more. I’m with you in the desire to do more; the time demands it and our students need us to.


  5. This is a wonderful use of your platform today! And makes me think about how we can all do a better job connecting our students to the platforms they need so their voices can be heard. Dina’s entire piece is incredibly powerful. I will be sitting with her words today and grateful for them.

    Liked by 1 person

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