Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Guest Blogger: Ferguson is About All of Us

by Tracey Dann

Please note: Tracey's post below marks the last in a series of guest bloggers that have accepted our invitation to reflect on the occurrences in Ferguson.  BVP Musings will continue to post guest bloggers with reflections around diversity throughout the year as we continue to keep the conversation moving forward.

The thing about Ferguson is this: it is not about Ferguson.    Ferguson is not about some tragic turn of events happening in some other state to some other people.   It is about all of us.  By divorcing ourselves, or even distancing ourselves from the drama as it plays out in Ferguson, Missouri, we fail our own communities.

The circumstances surrounding Ferguson are not unique. 

Before we expend all our energy on rage and blame, we need to own the fact that the same emotional tinderbox exploding in Ferguson sits within Rhode Island.  How do we make certain that the next Michael Brown is not our child, or our student, or our child’s classmate?

There is no religion or philosophy that cures violence.  There is no political plan that can eliminate crimes of hate.  There is no magic bullet.

But there is the slow, layered process of learning to value one another.

Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy is a community focused on college and beyond.  We believe our students and our children can do anything.  Yet to believe someone has an unlimited future, you must first value their present. 

Every morning a teacher shakes my child’s hand, looks her in the eye and asks “Good Morning.  How is your day?”  With each handshake, my child has a greater understanding of her own value.  186 layers of value added to her confidence every single year. 

The teachers value my children.  I value my child.  Valuing a child is easy.  They are cute.  It is harder to value our fellow adults.

As parents we can attend bullying seminars.  We can talk about diversity.  We can educate ourselves all day long.  But first we need to reach out our hands, look someone in the eye and say “Good Morning.  How is your day?”   We need to support one another in the struggle to raise our children.   We need to laugh together because parents make the same mistakes in English and Spanish.  Then, layer by patient layer, we learn to value one another for who we are.

If we are to divorce ourselves from anything, we should divorce ourselves from contingencies.  I will value you if... you turn right leaving the ES1 parking lot.  I will value you if… you attend an FLC meeting.  I will value you if… we are meeting face to face, but not on Facebook.  The value, we work so hard to earn is fragile. To keep it whole, we need to respect one another without strings and regardless of circumstance. 

I enrolled my children at Blackstone Valley Prep because I value a great education.  As a BVP parent, I’ve learned we cannot only value great education.  We have to value one another.

If the individuals involved in Ferguson, Missouri saw the value in each other’s lives their story would have ended differently.  Their story is our story and thankfully, we have time to rewrite our ending.  

Tracey Dann is the mother of three Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy Scholars.  Her twins are in the fourth grade at ES1 and their older brother starts at MS1 this year.  She spends her days as a student, a secretary, a short order chef and chauffer.  Tracey dreams of a better, smarter world for her three children and just a little bit of free time for herself.

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