Kelly Emmanuel, Sartell
When you are a white person you have certain expectations of how your society should behave, and why not? I mean. I am after all a product of said environment and the culture in which I was raised. As a white American I have only ever known a fair and just world. One in which if you work hard enough and put in your dues, you will be rewarded. This is the ideology so many of us grow up believing to be true. This lie that has been told generation after generation fails to inform us in order for us to get ahead, others must stay behind and the fact remains we have been doing so disproportionately since the birth of this nation.
But who wants to look at that. Just like no one wants to lose, if they can win.
If we never have to acknowledge this point, it doesn’t bother us. We go on living our whole lives, happy disproportionately delusional, and we raise our kids to be the same. Sounds pretty awful when you read it, but not when you’re living it.
No one likes a boat rocker. Getting wet when you’re in your Sunday best is crazy. So it’s best to just sit down and row.
That’s how I see America. Only this time, I’m the one standing up rocking the boat. A boat I helped purchase and put in the water. And though the first-class passengers are sitting there looking at me like I’m crazy for standing up, there is no doubt in my mind they would have no problem throwing me overboard if it meant stopping mutiny and the cruise could continue.
Fourteen years ago I met and fell in love with a man from Nigeria. We married and have three children. Two together and one I had from a previous relationship that he has raised as his own. It has been my life’s joy watching this man, who came here with a goal and ambition and who has beat the odds to achieve what so many call the American Dream.
We are an upper middle-class family. I do not have to work and haven’t had to do so for the past six years. We have done everything we can to try to “fit in” to polite society in Sartell. Yet my children and husband are treated like second-rate citizens, and I have been ostracized by most.
Last night at the school board meeting the three women on the board voted “No” to the ONLY idea this district had on dealing with our hostile environment in our schools. I have been following these issues closely and know not only were they ill-prepared but misinformed of the needs of our students. You could clearly see they hadn’t even taken 30 minutes out of their day to pull up Equity Alliance of Minnesota’s website to see on what they were going to be spending $80,000. Which, by the way, is their job. If you Google Sartell you will find we get a C- in diversity within our schools. That is something parents look at before moving to a new place, and in an area where CentraCare is king. What type of professionals do you think we have around here? My husband works at the hospital, and people talk.
School board members are stewards to our children and to the constituents of this district. They are voted in to make the best choices for us, not what is comfortable to their white fragility. When one member said she didn’t think this is what people wanted, I knew we were in trouble.
This is not new. It’s been going on for years and they just don’t want to do anything about it because it rocks their own personal boats. All the while telling white kids it’s OK to say and do whatever they want to students of color in Sartell. That is racist! This why two weeks ago I filed with the Office of Civil Rights to investigate the hostile environment. I know they weren’t going to do anything. They NEVER do. My child last year alone had four racial issues in school.
So what do people like me do? End up hating our own race? It’s kind of hard not to after all of this. All the power they have over my children. It’s not like I can wake up tomorrow and stop being a mom or stop being white. But if I had to choose, I’d choose my kids every time. After the ugliness I saw the other night, it’s hard to look myself in the face this morning.