Like many, I am still in shock. Disbelief at the ruling of the case of Dr. Tucker v The Board of Education.
But while PS Valerie Robinson-James and COE Kalmar Richards may be celebrating, this ruling should not be viewed as a win for the government—that is, for those elected and those appointed or assigned/employed to ensure the best for our children. They should all feel ashamed by what took place to bring us to this outcome. Those of us who are genuinely concerned about the state of education in this country are probably more deflated and disappointed than Dr. Tucker.
Many of us saw justice for Dr Tucker as justice for our children, for the system. True justice for her would have given us a glimmer of hope for a better future in education. We would have believed that, with the stroke of pen, many wrongs had been righted; that there was someone in the seat who was not only qualified to do the job but who was not afraid to do what was needed to move us through this education pandemic. We would have believed in the integrity of the system again and would have trusted that the children of this island were in capable hands.
Nonetheless, history is full of cases of miscarriage of justice and, in my opinion, this one can be added to that list. No disrespect to the esteemed judges, but I am confused by their ruling. It appears the Legislation was not followed but it looks like the court has no problem with that. I am not a lawyer so I will leave the legal fraternity to debate what makes no sense to me. And while I am no expert, I wonder if this whole thing could have something—anything—to do with colonialism.
Let us explore what’s going on?
The more I hear about the life and legacy of the revered John Lewis, the more I am inspired and the more I am inclined to think we are seeking justice in the wrong place. These judges know not the education pandemic raging in this community, and they care nothing about it. The question is how much do we care? And do we care enough?
John Lewis put his life on the line to change “the [voting] system”. One could say Dr Tucker put a lot on the line to change “this education system”. Knowing full well what’s going on (see Parts 1 – 3), what are we prepared to do?
On June 7th ,2020, we marched in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The thousands of us—politicians, clergy, community activists and average citizens including a whole lot of white people—took to the streets of Bermuda to show our support for the equal and just treatment of Blacks. It was nice—great to see all walks of life come together like never before in this country. But what did we want to accomplish really? What did we come together for if not for the one “equalizer” for Blacks–-the proper education of our children?
Or was it just another “feel good moment-in-time” for Bermuda?
I’ll say it again, if Black lives matter, then education must be a priority. My Black sons lives matter to me and that’s why I marched. And like all children, their success in life has a lot to do with their education and that’s why I started this series. With this ruling however, I remain concerned about their education and confused about the purpose of the BLM organization and its movement in Bermuda.
So, what’s going on?
Like Colonel Burch with Dr Weldon, I feel a certain affinity for Dr Tucker. I’ll admit, it is my nature to support the “underdog”, but in this case I genuinely support what Dr Tucker stood and fought for— fairness and justice. The fact that she did this in the name of education endears me that much more because that’s a rarity in this country. For me, the principles of fairness and justice, and the education of our children are worth fighting for any day, but especially now when so much is at stake.
What this case has proven though is that fairness and justice is not only about Black and White and that unfair and unjust treatment of our own by our own is probably our biggest challenge. We may believe the white man is our “enemy”, but they certainly are not the problem. At least not in this case. No white man or woman was involved in creating the fatally flawed process used to select our commissioner of education.
Instead, we are the steadfast gatekeepers and protectors of “the system” they ‘need’. We do their bidding for them and by doing our part (i.e., by either engaging or turning a blind eye), we remain in a state of despair—our children remain miseducated and undereducated— which ensures they (the white man) remain on top.
You see, it is us who is the problem here. Remember, we “saw the video”. We know what happened. And we have long known what’s going on. And like the years of police brutality and unjust treatment on Blacks, we cannot expect the courts to fix this longstanding problem for us. The courts know not the state of education in this country and they don’t care about us as a people. Thus, it is us who must fix the problem.
I wonder if all those white people who marched on June 7th would march for justice in education today. Heck, were they even following or interested in Dr. Tucker’s case? After all, we know where their children are being educated so it probably meant nothing to them. We also know that fixing public education will ‘fix’ many ills in this country. But will they march for our children? Better yet, will we?
As a mother with two Black sons, this ruling heightens my concern for their future in this country. This ruling does not help make that education pandemic go away. In fact, it could potentially worsen it.
So, what now?
While Dr Tucker deserves justice, and this PS, irrespective of the ruling, is deserving of transparent reprimanding, this matter is—as Fresh TV’s Elmore Warren suggests (7/21st)—bigger than them. It’s about a system—a mindset—that is systemically destructive to our Black children.
How did we get here? Why would we consistently protect their system with such vigor—blatantly sidelining and dismissing our own; those with the qualifications to get the job done? But most poignantly, why would we as a people willingly accept this injustice? The answer should be obvious. “The system/mindset” is not bad for all. It surely worked for Mrs. Richards and she is only one of many who is benefiting from it.
You see, the system thrives because of its “beneficiaries”. How do they benefit? They get positions with ‘nice’ pay—no matter their competence and/or qualifications for the job—and they get to keep those positions if they don’t ‘buck the system’. “The system” enables and encourages us to be our own enemy with “the beneficiaries” maintaining and protecting it for their own good. The ones who speak up against it are rejected and eventually fall victim to it.
And truth be told, there is another type of victim. They are the highly competent and qualified persons who, like Dr Tucker, have stood up and spoken out against what I will call Department of Education ‘badness’. Unfortunately, their individual voices are beat down by the power of “the system/mindset”. Eventually, they are forced to leave or, at the very least, pretend to ‘sip the Kool-Aid’ if they are to survive—that is, keep their jobs. They are caught between a rock and a hard place.
But again, as Fresh TV’s Warren contends, “the system” must be addressed at the top and only a collective voice will have the strength to do that. So why haven’t these persons taken a collective stance against the Department’s “badness” all these years? Where is their union with all this “badness” going on?
So, where is the top Elmore Warren is speaking about? Who sits at the top? Who is responsible for addressing this unjust systemic behavior/mindset? The Governor? The Queen? Please! They have no vested interest in our children and, if you look through their lens, we are “self-governing”—that is, we have the power to choose. The Governor did not make us choose Mrs Richards and no Governor—Black, white, male, or female—will take responsibility for the outcome of our totally flawed process. He or she simply rubber stamps our selection and leaves us to reap whatever we sow.
You see, this is how “the [colonial] system/mindset” works. We are led to believe they—white people in some faraway place—are the problem. So, we spend all our time blaming them and do nothing to address the “elephant in the room”—the actual problem—us Blacks.
In the meantime, “the system/mindset” that is destroying us continues to thrive with us serving as both its protector and its prey. The fact is it is us, ‘the people at the bottom’ who sit in the ‘seat at the top’. We are the ones that must determine our destiny; we must determine if we accept “the system/mindset” that enabled this flawed process and wrongdoing to occur.
Once again, the moral and social conscience of this island nation is at a crossroads. Which way will we go this time? Dr. Tucker’s case represents another defining moment in the history of our education system. We either stand up and speak out or forever hold our peace and accept whatever the outcome.
We are all responsible for the education of our children. No one gets a pass. At the end of the day, their education (or lack thereof) will give us the Bermuda we deserve.
Happy Emancipation Day. Emancipated yet?
- June Love (pen name) is a community activist and mother of two Black boys. She cares deeply about public education and the role it plays in Bermuda’s future. A product of the public-school system, Ms Love is an advocate for public school education but feels the current system leaves much to be desired. Having served on the PTA Executive for several years, she is an active parent who is extremely involved in her sons’ education. Involvement in this space has enlightened her about why the current system “misses the mark”. Education is key to Blacks having a life that matters. If Black lives truly matter in this island, then “matters of public-school education” should matter to us all. With vested interest, Ms Love will explore what’s really going on in public education in Bermuda.