Courageous- Part I

     Over the past week or so, the media has rallied around a woman who is a law student at Georgetown University because she was called a couple of pretty bad words by a very popular conservative talk show host. This posting is NOT about her, or I would have given it a much different name. I only brought her up as a point of contrast. For her efforts in putting herself out there in front of some members of Congress to talk about private issues in her life, she received much sympathy from the left-wing media, attention for her ultra-feminist causes…and a phone call of encouragement from Obama himself. He praised her for being willing to speak for women on public policy issues. He inferred, by dragging his daughters’ names into the discussion, that this law student was a good role model for them and other young girls for her willingness to speak out.
     Wrong again. Someone who could have used a phone call of presidential support for her willingness to speak out is a young lady much closer to the ages of the president’s daughters…and much more worthy to be a role model to young girls than the previously-mentioned law student. Thirteen-year-old 8th grader, Jada Williams, of Rochester, NY has been living through her own firestorm, though most of the national media haven’t bothered to talk about her. Jada, a mostly-A student, found herself receiving D’s and getting picked on by teachers after she turned in a book report on The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass. In case you don’t recall, Frederick Douglass was a slave who learned to read, escaped to the North on the Underground Railroad, and became a well-known orator, abolitionist and prominent citizen of that part of New York State.
     When Jada began reading and understanding the book, she realized that the plight of Douglass and other slaves- the reason they were slaves- was they were not properly educated. They were intentionally not educated as a way to keep them in line. She began to see parallels in her own life as a public school student in the 21st century, where many of her fellow students struggle to learn to read and to stay engaged in their education. She said, “When I find myself sitting in a crowded classroom where no real instruction is taking place I can say history does repeat itself. I feel like not much has changed. Just different people. Different era. The same old discrimination still resides in the hearts of the white man.”
     Before you come down hard on Jada for that statement, she explained in an interview with Glenn Beck that she wasn’t intending this to be about race at all. She said she was merely using Douglass’ terminology that he used in the book and relating it back to her own life in an inner-city public school. In her essay, Jada recounted a part in the book where Douglass describes what happened when his slave master found out that his wife had been teaching him how to read. She quoted the slave master from the Douglass book: “If you teach that n****r (speaking of myself) how to read, there will be no keeping him. It will forever unfit him to be a slave.” In her school, she said teachers will just “pass out pamphlets and packets”, expecting them (the Black students) to complete it, and hand it in for a grade. In reality, according to Jada, “most of my peers cannot read and or comprehend the material that has been provided.”
This essay challenging the educational system was to have been entered in a contest. It never made it there. When her teacher read it, she was so offended that she then passed it along to all of her colleagues. That’s when Jada’s life became a living hell.



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