By Awais Sufi
A recent trip to D.C. gave me the opportunity to visit the Martin Luther King monument. It was not my first time there, but the events of the last twelve months added an extra poignancy to my visit. As I read the various quotes from Dr. King inscribed at the site, one in particular struck me as deeply connected to recent events, the SSKC mission, and the serious work that needs to be done to ensure equity in Kansas City and across our nation. I feel compelled to share it with you today as we remember the work of Dr. King and his vision for all of us:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
After a year of disruption, hardship, struggle and injustice, these words feel even more important today. In the last year, the injustices that regularly surround our communities of color have come into stark view. Continued and serious disparities in our criminal justice system, healthcare provision, economy, and education cannot be ignored. We must deepen our own work combating systemic inequity and engage together more purposefully as we strive to do better for our future generations. As Dr. King so eloquently reminds us, and the world around us has demonstrated so vividly, this network of mutuality binds us to one another. We rise or sink together, and there is no escape from the challenges around us if we do not work together to overcome them.
In education, this means acknowledging the staggering disparity in resources faced by students of color – something that COVID-19 highlighted beyond contest. We should take heart in our successes – recent studies report that 95% of the device needs faced by KC students have been met, owing to huge efforts made by our partners, supporters, and schools– but we must also remain focused on continuing to discuss and fund ways to eliminate other resource gaps. We are tied in a single destiny with the students of Kansas City: if they thrive, so do we. If we allow inequality to exist, then the systemic injustices that have damaged our City will continue and we cannot move forward as a community.
In 2021, the SchoolSmartKC team, our board, our partners, and our community will continue the important work taken on in 2020. We will be steadfast in striving towards our goals set when we were founded in 2017. Now, more than ever, eliminating the achievement gap for our students is critical, and we will continue to make that journey with all of you.