I am not black.
But I love Black History month. I love what it signifies. As a middle-school teacher, I love showing my students that change happens. I love showing them that a bloody battle will inevitably end with good reigning over evil and justice being served. Black History Month depicts the stories of countless heroes far better than any big-budget Hollywood film ever could. February is a celebration of progress, freedom, and, of course, diversity.
This February we will not be celebrating progress, freedom, or diversity. This February we will be mourning regression and the loss of freedom and diversity in America.
This past week, the Kansas senate passed an Anti-Gay Segregation Bill. Inevitably, the legislation was killed later in the week as the Kansas Senate President acknowledged the backlash they were receiving and the damage it would do to the party; however, that does not deter from the fact that the bill was passed with ease by a vote of 72-49.
What does this mean? This means that the overwhelming majority of Kansas leaders think that it is acceptable to treat a human being as a second-class citizen because of their sexual preferences.
This blows my mind.
I don’t have unrealistic hopes for my son’s future. I understand that ignorance cannot be eradicated. I am no longer shocked by the outcry when a South Asian becomes Miss America or a Black man becomes President. I tell myself that ignorance is tied to misinformation, poor education, and a lack of worldly knowledge and understanding. And, I understand that it is my responsibility as a parent to do everything in my power to ensure that my son grows to be a man who is respectful, open-minded, and accepting. But, when policymakers exemplify ignorance, when it becomes the law to discriminate, even a mother’s hands are tied.
The beauty of democracy is that the beliefs and values of our chosen leaders are a reflection of our own.
So, this is a plea.
Kansas, please choose your policymakers carefully. They are shaping the country that our children are growing up in and forming the norms of our society. They are writing the History textbooks our children will read for decades to come. I want my child to read about a country where progress is made, freedom is a right, and diversity is celebrated. I want to go back to my classroom and show my students that change happens, that progress is being made, and that, today, the world is a little bit better than it was yesterday.