The Second Line Blog

I Blog for Liberation!

Yes, it is a fact that the nearly 50,000 children that attend Orleans Parish Public Schools need community people that can speak for the community. There is an overwhelming amount of children in my community who live in poverty and who need a voice to carry their plight to the spaces and conversations where they normally don’t exist.

It is important to me that at one time or another in my life I am empowered to speak diligently on the side of righteousness. There is an urge in me to activate my moral compass and subscribe to the high values instilled in me to speak out and give a voice to others.

This obligation I feel calls me to be more than the average citizen but a neighbor, friend, and fellow citizen who opinion and voice matters.

Recently, this question was posed to me, “Why Do I Write?”

To be perfectly honest with you, it comes from a selfpreserving state of mind. I have always enjoyed writing and I did it for my personal growth before being extended the opportunity to write for

Writing is a liberating way to represent one’s personal story and take account of other people’s stories.

Also, taking it from an education perspective, I can tell you firsthand that if you don’t control the narrative and tell your side of the story then other versions will be floating around out there and they more than likely won’t be indicative of your point of view.

But getting back to the selfserving reason I write…it offers a depth of liberation for me which is highlighted in a quote from one of my heroes Fannie Lou Hamer. Ms. Hamer says:

When I liberate myself, I liberate others. If you don’t speak out ain’t nobody going to speak out for you.”

There is a definite freedom garnered when you speak up and out for yourself and on behalf of others, not to mention the level of respect and admiration you get even from those opposing you.

I blog for liberation, freedom, and respect.

Many times lifting your voice and illuminating the unjust treatment and situations of society is just what is needed to get action in motion surrounding a particular subject. When those who are placed in power forget who they are there to represent, sometimes one has to find creative ways to get their attention. Maybe it’s a blog, a strategically timed email, or a visit to a board meeting that is needed.

Yet another one of my heroes, Septima Clark, eloquently speaks of this type of action:

I just tried to create a little chaos. Chaos is a good thing. God created the world out of it. Change is what comes of it.”

When those who are in opposition to you fail to acknowledge your worth or act as if they don’t see you or your plight, a little disruption to their normalcy is just the vivid light that is needed for them to begin to get their vision back.

I blog to upend their train of thought and complacency.

A time comes when even the most docile individual has had enough. When my wellbeing, the basic way of living for my family and the sanctity of my community is in question, I know if we don’t stand our groundwhether it be verbally, mentally, emotionally or sociallychange won’t come. A line has to be drawn in the sand when enough is enough.

Stokely Carmichael painted the picture with his words:

“Our grandfathers had to run, run, run. My generation is out of breath we ain’t running no more.”

When all is said and done, they will be able to say that Lamont Douglas spoke up for himself, his family, his community and those who may have been weaker and less fortunate than him. I write and lift my voice to hopefully create a spark and to spark others.

If at least one is helped by my voice, then I have succeeded. I write to create a dialogue and to control the narrative of stories in my community. I write to shine a light on the beauty in our community that others don’t acknowledge but is the true definition of what we are, who we are and what we represent.

I write for truth, for love, and for liberation.

Four Years Old and a Target of Racism

By guest blogger Kristle Pressley

Fears. We all have them – fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of failure. Before becoming a mom, my fears were simple. I don’t do heights, I don’t do insects, and I don’t do clusters of tiny holes (yes, that’s an actual phobia called “trypophobia”). After giving birth to my daughter four years ago, my fears suddenly multiplied.

As moms, we try to keep our kids as safe as possible to calm our own fears. One of the aspect of parenting we worry about most is protecting our babies. We pay for swim lessons to hopefully protect them from drowning. We have talks about “stranger danger” to hopefully protect them from predators. We buy bug spray to help protect them from insect bites. We are in “protection mode” from the very moment that new life is placed in our arms at the hospital. That is our mission in life – protect our offspring at all costs. I didn’t think about having to protect my daughter from other people’s prejudices and preconceived notions about her based on the color of her skin at such a young age.

I took my daughter in to the American Girl store here in Atlanta for a little shopping. We went two days earlier to enjoy lunch in the café as a kind of last hoorah before spring break ended. It was her first time in the store and she walked in and immediately fell in love. I mean, what little girl wouldn’t love a toy store full of fancy dolls and matching accessories? It’s like a designer shoe store for girls. We purchased some items after our lunch (she just HAD to have the exact sleeper and blanket the display doll had on), but of course she convinced me to go back and buy more stuff, so on this trip, we brought daddy.

We walked in and her eyes lit up like it was her first time all over again and she hadn’t just been there two days ago. She forced us to bring along two of her AG dolls with us so she could see how the clothes would look on them and try some things on. We walked around as her little fingers gently glided over dresses, boots, hair clips, and a plethora of overpriced baby doll blankets. I slowly walked behind her and held on to everything she picked up because I have seemed to pick up the role of personal assistant lately *insert side-eye*. Her eyes spotted the little white Bitty Baby rocking chair she had rocked her Bitty Baby baby in two days earlier and she just HAD to show her dad since he wasn’t there to see this beauty the first time.  She dragged us over- Bitty Baby in hand- sat in the rocking chair and began to sing a sweet lullaby to her baby as I have done to her for countless nights since her birth. “Oh what a great mommy you are!” shouted my husband. I stood back and just watched as I often do, because I like to just take in these precious moments of toddlerhood. “This scene is just perfect,” I thought to myself.

Then an older Caucasian sales associate approached us with a forced smile on her face. She glanced at my little brown skinned girl holding onto her brown Bitty Baby dressed exactly as the display Bitty Baby, then glanced immediately at the display to see if the store one was still perfectly swaddled where it should have been. After glancing back and forth a couple of times she made a little small talk, always stressing the word “YOUR” when asking about my daughter’s baby doll. “Oh is that YOUR Bitty Baby? Are you having fun with YOUR Bitty Baby? All the while constantly staring at the display and the other AG doll in my hand in a questionable fashion. I could tell my husband felt just as uncomfortable with this scene and I was right. Once I hurried away from her, he looked at me and said, “Did you notice that?” “I sure did,” I responded. “She was trying to make sure we didn’t take that display doll.” I could feel my blood starting to boil. Not quite a full on “throw in the noodles now boil,” but more like that slow boil when your pot of water has just crossed the threshold from being cold to that first bubble that signifies boil status.

“Let it go,” I told myself. “Don’t overreact.” We headed to the counter to pay for our items and I noticed the sales associate still watching us. “She is making sure we are going to pay,” I said quietly. We paid and headed towards the door because I was more than annoyed at this point. My daughter was oblivious and still shrieking with joy and asking for more items on the way out. This same associate stopped us on our way out and inquired just a little more about this Bitty Baby. As I leaned my body against the door to push it open and get the hell out of there, my husband and I heard her yell to another associate, “Ok, the Bitty Babies are now accounted for!” I immediately saw red as my husband looked at me and said, “Yep, I heard that too.”

We headed to the car, but something inside of me just wouldn’t let me leave. I made hubby and Delainie wait in the car while I went inside to sneakily ask another associate whether or not they usually take inventory of dolls while customers are in the store playing with said dolls. Her half-ass response ended with, “Yeah we just had to make sure she wasn’t taking one of ours.” I ran faster than Jackie Joyner Kersey out of that door because I could feel myself about to do something I would regret. She had basically told me that they had to make sure I wasn’t going to steal – that my BLACK family wasn’t going to steal. We were the only black family in the store. The only family being treated differently. Once again, I went to the car and told my husband what happened. We talked and agreed it needed to be addressed further. I was so angry that I had to fight back tears while retelling the story to the manager. I REFUSED to let this woman see me cry. I REFUSED to let anger make me act of our character in front of my child. I had to set an example for her.

We left and headed to brunch, but I couldn’t get the scene out of my mind. I was so angry and even my husband could see it. I went home and ran a hot bath later that night to relax a little. As I sat down, I took a deep breath, and I cried. Big, silent tears flowed down my face as I covered my mouth so my husband couldn’t hear me sobbing. As a mother of a black child, you know one day you will have to face race issues and explain them to your child, but a FOUR YEAR OLD?! My innocent, four year old daughter was harassed and followed like a criminal in a place that is supposed to be euphoric for a little girl. Have you ever heard black people say, “No matter what we do, it’s never good enough?” It’s true.

That sales associate didn’t know my daughter is a great kid from a loving home with two hard-working parents. She didn’t know this little girl’s parents have never been in trouble with the law or that she goes to a top notch private school where she excels in everything. Nope. None of that was ever thought about, nor did it matter.

That sales associate just saw a little black girl with afro puffs walking around an expensive doll store and she immediately went on high alert.  The sermon at church a few hours earlier was about race relations and loving your neighbor no matter what race, religion or ethnicity. I sat in the tub and prayed for God to remove the anger from my heart. I also prayed for him to give me the strength to fight battles like this more often because I realized that as I am a woman raising a black child, this is just the beginning of a lifelong fight of preparing her for being judged because of her skin.

In the end, I received a call from AG’s corporate headquarter less than 24 hours later addressing my concerns.  They informed me the associate was no longer employed there. Kudos to AG for fighting to maintain a culture of inclusiveness and resolving the problem so quickly.

Why I Write: David McGuire

Eric Thomas, respectfully known as the “Hip Hop Preacher” is a person I listen to for motivation.  One of my favorite motivational videos of his is “What’s Your Why?” The video reveals the story of why NBA Superstar Kevin Durant wears the number 35 and explains how the “Why” behind the number 35 motivates him as a basketball player. This video had me thinking “What is My Why?” Why do I choose to be an education writer? Why is it so important to me? Let me tell you how I got started.

I began writing for Education Post in 2016. I’d never been a writer before. I was only used to sharing my thoughts with the local Indianapolis media on a few education topics – typically on stories about minority teachers who educate black and brown students. However, after attending a retreat with other writers from Education Post, I began to understand my purpose of being there and becoming a voice for other black educators. I realized the obligation I had. I owed it to the education profession to speak the truth. I owed it to my city to speak the truth. I also owed it to those who were not being given the truth.

After a while, my writing began to change significantly. My piece “Why Do Poor and Children of Color Have to Go To Bad Schools?” was published in the Huffington Post. It allowed me to express my frustration with those who were against school choice. I needed people to know I refused to accept that students of color and poor children had to attend the horrible school in their neighborhood instead of having the chance to attend a high performing school that wasn’t in their neighborhood. It was the truth. It was my truth and theirs.

So why did I choose to become a writer? Writing is a way of activism. I am a black man. I am a black educator. Right now, I am a black male educator in a school leadership position. The fact is black male teachers make up roughly 2% of the teaching population in this country. We all know that is not enough.

Teaching is my purpose.

Writing allows me to share my passion. It allows me to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. It allows me to shed light on the system that attempts to shut us out and shut us down.

Indy Education is an education publication for the people, written by the people, about the people. Our tagline on our website says, “We Must Do Better.” It could also say “We Deserve Better. As an education writer, I aim to speak the truth and to share the truth with the people.

Lastly, I am an education writer because I have made an impact. It was me lending my voice here in the city about the lack of minority teachers that created a conversation about the lack of minority teachers specifically African American male teachers in our classrooms. My series “Breaking the Mold” has brought a focus on black female school leaders in Indianapolis. I have written pieces on the lack of black people on school boards. I have written pieces on school choice. I have written pieces that have offered tips to teachers, students, and parents. I have made an impact on education as a profession, Indianapolis as a city, and the community within this city.

My favorite fact is that I am not alone in this online activism. To my fellow education writers and Citizen Ed crew: Shawnta Barnes, Chi Bornfree, Barato Britt, Reggie Brumfield, Erica Copeland, Latoya Douglas, Lamont Douglas, Mendell Gritner, Gary Hardie, Dana Henry, Cheryl Kirk, Marlena Little, Andrew Pillow, LaShundra Richmond, Danielle Sanders, Florentina Staigers, Dana Wade, Teresena Wright, share your “Why” and let’s inspire others to elevate their voices as education writers!

Unenroll NOLA:OneApp Don’t Love the Kids

The air is full of frustration in New Orleans among parents who have attempted to send their kids to the best NOLA schools. The deciding factor to get into New Orleans schools is a lottery based algorithm program called OneApp. Here’s is a link to how it all works according to EnrollNOLA the entity that runs OneApp through a partnership between the Orleans Parish School Board and the Recovery School District. This system was put into place after Hurricane Katrina to ensure that equity was spread across families of school age children in New Orleans. The purpose of the app was to bring equity to NOLA’s enrollment process and eliminate  hookups or favoritism and other strategies parents employed to get their children into our city’s best schools, the magnet schools. Under EnrollNOLA, magnet schools, which enrolled the best of the best through a testing system, would supposedly not exist anymore because all schools would be “good” schools.

Over the past few days, the most recent lottery drawing of OneApp results were made available to parents of school age children in New Orleans and by the buzz in the streets, trending topics on social media, and communications with colleagues in education, the results were far from satisfying to parents of New Orleans students. The OneApp process and resultshave families reeling and wondering what their next move should be…yet OneApp was supposed to eliminate this worry..

Here is a OneApp story from one of my colleagues, someone who has worked in education and with other families about their situations:

First, let me say that I understand that there are too few quality schools in New Orleans; therefore the majority of  parents are trying to get their kids into the same schools. That is why I was so excited when I was told they were opening an Audubon School in my neighborhood and that I was in a catchment zone; which increased my children’s odds of getting in.  I knew this school would be high on everyone’s list, so I knew there was a possibility that one or both of my girls would not get in. But considering how close we are to the school (see map below, a 10min walk), I really liked my chances. Well the OneApp results came out today and neither one of my girls got in.  And while I was always going to be disappointed if they did not get into this school, I would be happy if they got into 1 of the 5 other schools we chose on the OneApp. Well they did not get into any of those either. The closest that either one of my girls got to getting into any of these schools is to be #68 on a waiting list.  So here I am its April 11th and neither one of my girls has a school to go next year. I have a letter that says apply during the 2nd second round of OneApp and wait until June to see if they have a placement. June!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think that is a little late to make decisions on my children’s education. I can not put into words how pissed off I am.  #feeling-frustrated

Besides this example, many other binds occur from the OneApp incomplete results. There is the parent who has to make a decision whether to send his/her child back to the private or parochial school and whether to pay that non-refundable processing fee to those private schools. Some  parents can’t afford any private or parochial schools. Other parents have children that didn’t get any of their picks; they were told to reapply later this month and wait for results that won’t come until June. Newsflash: school starts in August. Can you imagine as a parent waiting to decide your child’s educational future at the last minute and not to mention having to secure uniforms in the final hours like that? That would be frustrating and in some cases devastating. I also want EnrollNOLA to answer this question, “Why would a child who parents made multiple picks not get into any school?”

Taking everything into account, it is obvious that New Orleans is still suffering from not enough quality school choices. It seems as if we are relying on the same small amount of quality schools that we relied on pre-Katrina.  Which brings us to a simple answer to a simple question. Can school choice effectively work without a city full of quality choices? The answer sadly is NO!

I Am Scared

I’m scared. That’s right, I said it. I’m scared that my little boy will one day be a victim for just being black.  Being a parent is hard enough, but honestly, being a parent to a black boy is terrifying. My son is only four years old, and I already get chills when I think of my son growing up and becoming independent. One day, he will ask to borrow my car to meet friends at the mall or run an errand. That scares me. I think of the possibility that he will not come back because he looked at someone wrong, or fits the description of a wanted man simply because he’s black. Again, my son is only four, and this is the shit that keeps me up at night.

As I type this, I can’t help but cry for Trayvon Martin’s mother who has to live in eternal hell because her son was stolen from her for being black.  Last week was the 50th “anniversary” of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King; I can’t help but shake my head in disappointment because here we are 50 years later and we are STILL being gunned down, viewed as animals in cages, and still walking around with targets on our backs. As a mother, I walk around with that burden every day. I. AM. SCARED.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. King’s daughter, Dr. Bernice King, speak to an arena full of high school students at the InspireNOLA Rally for Excellence. She was powerful! As she spoke, I looked around the room at the students. They held on to her every word. She was relatable; they felt safe. Her life is some of those kids’ current reality. Her father was murdered when she was only five, a year later her uncle Alfred drowned in a pool, and six short years later her grandmother was killed by a mentally ill man while she sat in church.  Bernice spoke their language. I can only imagine how people felt when they were in the room with Dr. King. At one point she asked the room full of students if anyone has seen anyone get shot or lost a loved one from gun violence? If so, please stand up. The whole arena stood up. 

This is why we had people like Dr. King fighting for us. He was a symbol of hope. He showed us that yes it’s bad now, but it will get better, but has it? As I sat listening to Dr. Bernice King preach to these young kids, I was lost with emotion because this is our reality 50 years later. We are still preaching, teaching, and telling our black children they are good enough.  We have to constantly tell them that they are smart and teach them how they can change the narrative. Even with great examples like Dr. Martin Luther King, President Obama, Maya Angelou…hell Oprah, our kids have been programmed by society to think of themselves as less than.

So as I sat there listening to her tell these children how they are change agents, I couldn’t help think about my little boy and how one day he will be sitting in a room listening to someone tell him something I tell him every day. How despite the color of his skin, he is smart, inquisitive, creative. How he can be the next president one day. I look forward to the day when I. Am. NOT. Scared!

Black Panther For Girls

By Sylvia Denice

Historically, I am not a fan of the superhero movie genre. Most superhero films leave me, to my despair, bored or disengaged. In addition, the marketing of superhero movies has been geared toward more of a masculine audience. When it comes to superhero movies, I more often than not assume my time is better spent on another film experience. However, this all changed when my students brought their energy around the release of the Black Pantherfilm into my classroom.  These twenty nine-year-olds swayed me, and I ended up seeing Black Panther in theaters–twice.  After seeing the film, I experienced a complete change of heart.

As a teacher of twenty young African-American children, I am extremely conscientious of portrayals of my students and their cultures in the media.   Black Panther was a refreshing reflection of the beauty I see in my students every day: my bright, intelligent, innovative, loving, brave, communal, cooperative, collaborative, loyal students. I had expected this from reviews I read before seeing the film, and I was not disappointed. While I had anticipated a sense of empowerment from Black Panther for my African-American students, which they candidly and enthusiastically expressed in class, I was unexpectedly and pleasantly surprised with the additional messages of empowerment for young girls.

My second time seeing Black Panther was beside my two teen-aged sisters, where I found myself constantly noticing the potential lessons I hoped were transferring from the screen to their beautiful, young, impressionable, strong, female minds. To my delight, our conversation after seeing the movie centered around the film’s empowering female characters and plot lines.  Below are the messages my sisters and I heard from Black Panther that we hope other young, female superhero fans can enjoy, too.

Girls are smart

You could feel the disdain in the movie theater when M’baku came to challenge T’Challa, king, and protector of Wakanda, for the throne and stated their “technological advances have been overseen by a child who scoffs at tradition.” The remark is an offense towards Shuri, the overseer and innovator of all Wakandan technological advances, and T’Challa’s sister. My sisters and I scoffed, knowing Shuri’s intelligence and leadership were clearly sustaining the Wakandan paradise. We loved seeing a woman, especially a woman of color, thriving in a STEM career on the big screen. Through Shuri’s character, Black Pantherencouraged and challenged us as young women to unashamedly love, embrace, and share our unique genius in a culture where this is not always the case and to pursue untrodden paths accordingly.

Girls are strong

As women, we were proud and amazed to see the Wakandan army comprised of unapologetically resilient women. To my surprise, my favorite scene from Black Panther was an action scene: the final battle scene between the Dora Milaje and the Killmonger.  These types of action scenes are typically where superhero genre films lose my interest; however, seeing the Wakandan women warriors actively, physically involved in the battle had me fully engaged. To my sisters and I, this was Black Panther sending a message to women of their undeniable and underappreciated strength. We spent some time recalling depictions of non-superhuman women in action films to those we saw in Black Panther, and struggled to find any examples even remotely comparable to the Wakandan warriors.

Girls have a voice

My sisters and I snickered through the entire scene depicting Agent Ross, the white American CIA agent character, and T’Challa conversing around Okoye, the leader of the kingdom guards.  Okoye makes her sentiments about the conversation clearly known to T’Challa throughout, remarking to him in Xhosa, the native language of Wakanda.  Ross asks T’Challa, “Does she speak English?” Okoye herself replies to Agent Ross, “When she wants to.”  The theater giggled; and, in this line, we felt the acknowledgment of the female voice. I remember being a fifth grader learning U.S. history and noticing an overwhelming majority of the women highlighted in our lessons were acknowledged as contributors to history through their “support” of the actions of affluent white men. While I believe this sentiment was intended to bring appreciation to women in history, it can muffle the female voice. As women, we should no longer have to be heard through the voices of men. Black Panther showed us that girls have voices of their own.

Black Panther expanded my thinking of superhero powers. Before seeing the film, my idea of a superhero was limited to whatever superhuman gifts the character been given: strength, speed, force, or flight, for example.  After seeing Black Panther, I realized the true, applicable power of the superhero movie genre. The power of Black Panther was not limited to the capabilities of vibranium; Black Pantherbrought a voice to my African-American and female students, giving “power” as it relates to the superhero movie genre a whole new meaning for me. A few months ago, I never would have anticipated that today I would be saying, “I can’t wait to see Avenger: Infinity War.”Consider me a superhero film fan now.

Louisiana Senators Advance Two TOPS Bills

Louisiana Senators are hoping to make receiving the TOPS Scholarship a little easier for NOLA students.  While one bill lowers the ACT score requirement, the other would create a new TOPS scholarship for those who have earned an Associate’s degree and would like to pursue their education at a 4-year college.
“You have a situation where both bills provide young people in the state of Louisiana with a greater opportunity (to succeed).”

Read more here

Asiyah: Redefining What It Means to Be a Concerned Parent and Citizen

Asiyah’s wide-ranging experiences in education and activism can help us broaden our own views about school choice and activism. Her story demonstrates that the way we think about education and activism is often much too narrow.  She helps us believe that finding the best school for our children is not limited to what’s right in front of us, and that being an activist can also be a matter of choice.

In education, we often speak about private, charter, and traditional public schools, but for Asiyah, there was another option, the one her parents took in providing her education: homeschool.  Asiyah divided her time between homeschool with her parents as well as a madrasa, a formal Islamic school.  She attended a number of madrasas in New Orleans, which was a shared homeschool experience with a small group of students. Later, she received her high school equivalency diploma.  Reflecting on the difference between her homeschool experience and that of her younger siblings, who attended public school, Asiyah stated, “Listening to them talk about their experiences that I never had, dances and things like that, I knew my school experience was not typical.”  

But Asiyah didn’t think much about education systems until she had her own child. When her son was ready to attend school, Asiyah and her husband at the time had a discussion. They didn’t have much confidence in the New Orleans school system.  He had attended Catholic schools his whole life and felt strongly that his children should be given the same opportunity. Asiyah had no objections, so they enrolled their son in a Catholic school. But the education expenses didn’t feel reasonable, so they decided to move. Asiyah, who is a social worker in the mental health field, looked for a job on the Northshore and was able to find one in Slidell.

“More resources amounts to more choices,” Asiyah acknowledged. “There is the question of what happens to the people and the children whose resources and choices are limited.”

Once in Slidell, Asiyah visited the public school and noticed there wasn’t much difference in class sizes between the private and public schools. She began to rethink the decision to continue to send her son to private school, and eventually she enrolled her son in the public school. Later, she enrolled her other children, a son and daughter, in public school as well. She was an involved parent. “I had a track for them from the time they were enrolled all the way through high school. I wasn’t going to leave their education up to the school system. I’d plan their classes each year.” At one point, she thought about moving back to New Orleans, but after talking with friends about “the lottery system,” she decided she didn’t want to face that kind of uncertainty about her children’s education.

Asiyah is also involved in the community. Though her family still lives in Slidell, she is still active in New Orleans. In the last couple of years, she has attended a number of demonstrations and marches for various social justice issues. “I care about the fair treatment of people, especially issues of police brutality and how people of color are treated by the criminal justice system, by police… I have two sons. One that drives.”

Reflecting on when she first became involved in social justice issues, she thinks about the legacy of her parents, who participated in different socially minded groups, but her activism developed over time. The first actions she remembers taking part in were sit-ins at Louisiana State University after incidents of racism occurred on campus.  When asked about her role in activist spaces, she hesitates.

“Sometimes I don’t feel like I fit into activist spaces. I’m not always sure of my role. I hope that my presence will affect something, that maybe something will come from it, and from showing support. But I just think of myself as someone who wants to be involved, a concerned citizen. When I see something that needs addressed, I try to take the initiative to speak up, and to be involved in activities that might affect some outcome. I don’t feel like I can’t just sit back, that makes me feel antsy. It doesn’t quite sit right.”

Asiyah’s courage is subtle, but powerful. It’s an important narrative for when we lose sight of our own power to choose in the face of relentless and unforgiving systems of social conditioning and oppression. Though we must also acknowledge, as Asiyah did, that she has had enough resources and support to make those choices. When we see this success, we are encouraged to give others the resources and support they need to also have options. Just as important, we have to have a reason to believe it is possible to find freedom within these systems. Asiyah gives us that reason to believe by broadening our view of choice and redefining what it means to be a concerned parent and citizen. It’s not a matter of heroism, and for each parent and person it will look different. Yet, Asiyah helps us see that it is also as simple as being involved.