When one hears, reads or thinks of the word PRIDE. What comes to mind? Is it pride in our country, pride in ourselves, pride in our community, or simply an acknowledgment of the joy, resilience and triumphs of one’s culture and lived experiences? PRIDE has multiple meanings for multiple people. However, PRIDE for our family, students, and colleagues who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community, bears another meaning. This meaning is beyond the casual rainbow flag waving in June for PRIDE Month, the solidarity stickers and shirts sold as a corporate marketing campaign during PRIDE parades. PRIDE has its roots, beginnings, and daily journey through the human condition in civil rights, legal rights, constitutional rights, and human rights. The right to simply exist as WE are regardless of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, or social and economic status. PRIDE is about mattering.
As we in DSST continue to celebrate the multiple cultures, experiences, and backgrounds we have in our community, we are actively seeking to spotlight the living greatness of our staff. For Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage month, we want our staff and students, particularly, to know that there is living AAPI history right inside our schools and home office. Therefore, we want to be intentional with disrupting the narrative that AAPI is only those nations, states and territories and people that border the Pacific Ocean (most prominently Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, Japan, China, and Korea). We are well aware that Asia includes nations that border the Indian Ocean and those that border no ocean.
May is Asian American Pacific Islander Month as designated by Public Law 102-45, 1992. Asia includes the Near East, Far East, and Middle East. As we acknowledge the contributions, rich history and monumental accomplishments of our community, students, neighbors, friends, and family members, it should not be excluded nor lost in any of our minds the times we continue to navigate with our AAPI colleagues.
Today is Black History… and every day and every month prior to this one. It has been said that Black History IS American History, yet American still excludes this history and that of others from the architecture of this great nation. That is because greatness like history is told only from the perspective of the victor…not the victim. As Chimamanda Adichie says about the Single Story, “the way to possess a people is to begin their story with secondly”. Begin with the colonialism of Africa and not with the great dynasties, Kings and Queens that ruled. Begin with Alexander the Great defeating Hannibal of Cartridge and not with Hannibal crossing the Alps on Elephants and being too far from home before meeting Alexander. Black History does not begin with slavery in America nor with the enslavement of Africans. It is up to everyone to truly celebrate Black History by learning the truth about Black history as told by Black people in Black books.
As we prepare for our Return to School, it is not lost on anyone in the DSST network what staff, students and families have had to endure and grapple with since schools closed in March. Every known and ignored inequity surfaced all at once: health, economic, social justice, racial, gender, sexuality, technology, and food to name quite a few. In addition, mental health, wellness, and trauma (specifically racial trauma) further illuminated and exasperated how far our nation has come and how far we still have to go to achieve a society where "all are created equal...with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". As COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter Protests, the Presidential election, and the attack on our nation's capitol has shown us, we are a nation divided across every aforementioned inequity and more. This "new Civil Rights" movement as it was called during the summer and the "Third Reconstruction" as it is called now, informs us that we are living in a time that most assumed and/or hoped we would never have to experience.