Beyond Justice

Frank Gaines Ph.D.

Frank Gaines, Ph.D.

 Part One of Four

      The upcoming presidential election has been the dominant headline for quite some time.  The COVID-19 pandemic shutdown and subsequent health and economic crisis has commanded worldwide focus and attention most of this year.  But the horrific and tragic murder of George Floyd at the hands of police, a Black man, has galvanized and impacted the world in ways none of us could have imagined. This 4-part series looks at the interconnectedness and impact those events can have to affect a positive impact on education.  Frank Gaines, Ph.D.

  Progress will meet adversity as long as people possess competitive instincts.  It doesn’t matter what an individual’s station in life is, they will desire more; more for themselves, more for their family, and more to secure wealth for future generations.  It is a natural instinct that is impacted, affected, and in some cases infected by opportunity.  In America, it affects our thoughts, attitudes, emotions and feelings, while shaping our social, political, economic, educational, and human instincts.  It determines how we treat people.

More often than not, economics shapes our upward mobility.  In contemporary times, families typically don’t catapult up the economic scale.  It happens in some cases, but that is the exception, not the rule.  Familial strides are gradual once you adjust for inflation.  The mediating variable is education, not just that which takes place in a formal classroom, but the lifelong educational opportunity of the whole person; the education that takes place in an individual’s total life experience and exposure.  It determines our perspective and ultimately our human condition.  Collectively is our humanity.

Pressure reveals the true inner self.  We see it now more than ever in the politics of hate reflected on our nation’s social and political landscape.  Social media reveals in real time what once was suppressed, but now changes the fate of many.  Diplomacy has always been considered a necessary attribute to lead, but no longer at the highest levels of our democracy.  Noteworthy because in this post-modern era, at least idealistically, we have evolved to transcend social ills like racism, slavery, poverty and politics of hate to build arguably the greatest nation on earth, yet there is a yearning by far too many that we need to go backwards.  This is evidenced and supported by leadership at the highest level in our democracy who have adopted a polarizing discourse fervently using social media to proclaim we need to go backwards in order to “Make American Great Again”, as if America is not… spite of it’s challenges.

“Make America Great Again” requires definition and explanation in 2020, because minorities, women, people of color, people in poverty, working class people, oppressed people, immigrants and the children of immigrants which collectively represent the overwhelming majority of this democracy cannot recall a time in American History they want to go back to in order to advance.  There is, however, a noisy sub-group that has emerged as a majority, seized political control and been seduced into thinking there is a period hidden somewhere in our nation’s somber history when “they”, “we”  and the nation was better off.  In spite of COVID-19, going backwards is not an option.

Amidst all this, the mediating variable, the vehicle for change, is educational opportunity.  It is the variable and currency that is supposed to be used to transact a better life and future for an individual, their family and the nation.  But what we have camouflaged as educational opportunity has not and does not adequately serve the needs of the majority of the citizenry in this democracy.  The education that truly effects change and creates opportunity no longer (if it ever did) takes place in a classroom with a student sitting at a desk receiving a lecture or answering questions they have memorized the answers to for a teacher that more often than not doesn’t share their culture, value, norms, experience, traditions and most importantly their perspective.  Most of it takes place in the laboratory of life that includes the larger school campus and culture, neighborhood, parks, community centers, home environment and social, economic and political landscape they are exposed to.  Education as we now know it sends a not so subtle message that validates the values of the governing class as opposed to opportunities to change their human condition.

“The individual must have the power to stand up and count for something in the actual conflicts of life.” – John Dewey

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it.  I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.    – Malcolm X


About Carma Henry 24585 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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