Bright Ideas are back! Leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs and people who are doing interesting things share their bright ideas for 2020 with the Cap Times. Find them posted here throughout the week and in print on Jan. 8.
When I graduate from Madison West this June, it’ll be time for me to leave this city that is among the worst in the world for black people.
But before I go, I and a few others around the Madison School District hope to leave a legacy that can change that reputation and reality. We’re starting a citywide Black Student Union, bringing black voices from around the district together to start the hard conversations we all need to have.
Every generation has the power to change something in the world that was bad, and this is our best shot. That means bringing together all of Madison’s communities, getting to know each other and breaking down the ignorance that often leads to racism. The first step is creating an environment to bring everybody together and learn to become comfortable with each other.
When my father was fired from his security guard job at West in October, our school BSU stepped up to coordinate a walkout of more than 1,000 people on a Friday afternoon. The district soon reinstated my father, and it’s started a conversation about the use of the n-word in schools and the district’s “zero tolerance” practice for staff who use it in front of students.
That walkout brought attention to an issue — but we can’t stop at attention. We need to act on making real change while we have the opportunity.
That’s what student voice can do. Whether it’s worldwide issues facing the black community or those on a more local level to end the disparities in Madison, having more voices around the table will be a good thing.
I hope you listen to us in 2020.
—As told to Scott Girard
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