Jolie Valentine

I did not learn about Vincent Chin’s murder until I was in my 30s, even though he was killed a half hour from my home when I was 6. I did not learn about white Detroiters attempting to lynch Dr. Ossian Sweet until I was in my 40s, although I was assigned To Kill a Mockingbird multiple times. I did not learn the racial history of my own state, including sundown towns and redlining and restrictive covenants, or why my hometown had no Black residents, until middle-age.

My students deserve better than I received — they deserve to know about their state and their community in age-appropriate ways, without huge important chunks of history being removed or sanitized to avoid hard conversations about race, privilege, power, and hatred. Kids see these things in their own lives and it is dishonest for adults to prevent them from having opportunities to learn and think and practice working through them. True and meaningful pride comes out of hard work.