Knowledge Is Power

Knowledge+Is+Power

Amelia Pollicino

In a controversial time, in order to discover your true beliefs, you must educate yourself. They say knowledge is power, and that applies right now. 

After a Minnesota police officer killed George Floyd, a black man, by kneeling on his neck, protests have erupted all over the United States. This murder was just the tipping point; the death of Floyd comes after the murders of Breonna Taylor in her own apartment and Ahmaud Arbrey while jogging, both of whom were black. Given these events, there is a prominent call to prevent these injustices from happening again and to eradicate racism. 

No one is born a racist; it is the values that are instilled in people as children that shape their beliefs about race. It is important, now more than ever, to formulate your own views by educating yourself and opening your mind in order to create a more inclusive America. Black people in America have faced continued oppression and discrimination, and the recent protests have echoed the idea that we must educate ourselves in order to make a change. By knowing exactly what is going on, you can help unite everyone, rather than just ignoring or disliking those with whom you disagree. By educating yourself, you will begin to formulate your own opinions, as well as gain a deeper understanding of all Americans. We need to unite and make a change, and the first step in that process is clear: educate yourself.

One of the most effective ways to learn about racism in America, and how to combat it, is through reading. One great resource to help become educated on the topic of racism is the New York Times Bestseller How to Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi. This book discusses an important concept: you are either racist or anti-racist, and there is no in between. The story focuses on the author’s racist views and his journey to becoming actively anti-racist. Through reading his story, readers can learn how to become anti-racist themselves; a term you may never have heard of before that now can become part of your ever-changing vocabulary. Another book to help educate you on this issue is White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. White fragility is defined as the tendency of white people to not discuss racism and information about the inequality between races in America, and this story reveals how white people can begin to have uncomfortable conversations that will eventually lead to racial justice. This story may allow readers to recognize that they have to change their way of thinking in order to be part of a truly equal society. A third book that shines light on racial inequality in America and how to combat it is Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad. This novel takes readers on a journey to understand the oftentimes unconscious white privilege and how to stop these thoughts in order to help better their treatment of people of color. Additionally, the acclaimed memoir Heavy: An American Memoir by Kies Laymon is a wonderful resource to understand the life of a black man growing up in America and the problems that accompany this plight. As a society, we must become better at understanding others and ourselves, and this starts with reading.

Along with reading books, you must also read articles about racism in America today. One article that provides a great deal of information is “America’s Racial Contract Is Killing Us” by Adam Serwer. This was published in The Atlantic on May 8, 2020, and provides modern and accurate information. This article discusses the racial contract that is seen in American society and the justice system. It sheds light on problems within our justice system, while also discussing the racial issues that emerged as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded in America.

Further, you can bolster your knowledge about racism and inequality in American society by simply listening. There are many informative and insightful podcasts that will allow you to obtain a greater understanding of this issue. About Race, hosted by Anna Holmes, Baratunde Thurston, Raquel Cepeda, and Tanner Colby, discusses the culture of our society in relation to race.  The podcast 1619, which was created by the New York Times and hosted by Nikole Hannah- Jonas, talks about the transformation of America because of slavery. It connects the past and present through the telling of stories that relate to slavery, which began in America in 1619. Additionally, the podcast Pod for the Cause, which is from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, offers insight and advice on how to create a democracy that works for all Americans. Other podcasts that you can listen to include: Intersectionality Matters! hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw, Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast, Pod Save the People (Crooked Media), and Code Switch. Through listening to these podcasts, you can gain a greater understanding of issues faced by African American people in America, along with what you can do to help better your country.

Moreover, through watching movies and TV shows about how racism in America has been handled and how black people are treated in America, you can learn a lot about this deep rooted issue. Firstly, the movie The Hate U Give sheds light on police brutality within the black community in America. This movie is about a black teenage girl whose eyes are opened to the severe racism in America after her friend is killed by a policeman. 

Documentaries are often great ways to learn about a certain topic. One documentary that discusses racism in America is 13th; it talks about the racial inequality within the American criminal justice system. This documentary is especially necessary to watch now because the issue of police brutality against a black man is what began the protests that are being held all over America. In addition, the comedy TV show Dear White People, which deals with racism at college, is a lighter way to learn about the constant prejudice against black people in our society. The Netflix series American Son is another resource to directly learn about racism within the criminal justice system. This series follows the parents of a black teenage boy who goes missing and their hard journey to discover the truth. Other programs you can watch to educate yourself include the movie Just Mercy and the Netflix series When They See Us. By watching these movies, TV shows, and documentaries, you will teach yourself about the prominence of racism in America today.

After teaching yourself, it is wildly important that you also teach others. Whether you are teaching a friend, a parent, or a child, you must teach others about the issue of racism in America and what they can do to help. The change that we all desire begins with the change of mindset. That change in mindset comes from education. When looking to inform others about how to become an anti-racist, you can have conversations with them and/or share any of the books, movies, and/or podcasts you found helpful. 

When looking to teach a child, you can share more kid friendly books about the issue to begin to teach them how to be an anti-racist from a young age. One story that can help to educate a young child on the matter is Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X. This is a children’s book written by Malcom X’s daughter about his upbringing and road to becoming a civil rights activist. Additionally, the children’s book Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters is a great way to teach your children about racism in America. Through teaching others, you are creating a world of more open minded people which, in turn, will lead to change.

As American History Teacher John Cornicello explained, “It is imperative that students educate themselves on racism in America. America has an ugly history of racism and, if you want to change that narrative, you must change your entire thought process. If anything, these protests are forcing us to reconsider our mentality. There is unrest in this country and you (especially the youth) need to be educated. It is the youth that can change the future, and that starts with being informed…At the time, I don’t have many resources to recommend–I like NPR because I believe they are the most ‘down the middle’ resource. But, that’s just my opinion.” As Cornicello expressed, it is important to get news from sources that contain little bias. 

Global Teacher David Rabinowitz revealed that he believes “Knowledge is power, and [it] leads to solutions.” Rabinowitz continued, “ Educating oneself on all topics is incredibly valuable. When students do the proper research from credible sources, they are more likely to retain information then synthesize new theory or systems.  Then, hopefully, these new systems create a better, more viable society. One reliable source is the United Nations.  Their goal is peace, liberty, and equality on a healthy planet.” 

While it is important to educate yourself on the history of racism in America, it is also important to educate yourself on the current situation. In order to do so, you must find reliable news resources and  cross check your news. If you are getting all of your information from one news site, you are most likely not learning the whole story. To fully educate yourself, you must cross check your news sources. Another way to stay updated on racism in America is to follow reputable organizations that provide these updates. These organizations include the non-profit organization Color of Change (https://colorofchange.org/) that actively tries to gain racial justice

In addition, you can educate yourself about racism and white supremacy in America by asking yourself important questions. Through this process of introspection, you will learn more about how you can change your mindset to better America. Questions like “Who taught you about race and culture?”, “What do you want to learn more about?”, “What information could you teach people?”, “In what ways have you ignored this behavior in the past?”, and “Why is it important for everyone to work towards ending this injustice?” have been posed on the Instagram page @homefromcollege to allow for powerful thinking and learning. If you ask yourself these questions, you will continue to learn.

Additionally, in order to learn about racism in America, you must understand America’s past. Whether you research the Atlantic Slave Trade, Social Darwinism, or the Civil Rights Movement, you will learn information that will help you gain a deeper understanding about the formation of racism and how America has gotten to this point. Through understanding the past, you will be able to positively impact the future. 

Many teenagers have become passionate about this cause and are striving to learn more, a stride in the right direction. Sophomore Grace Bodian stated, “The word ‘important’ doesn’t even surmount for the amount of attention that should be given to this movement. It is about time that racism is being taken so seriously and being so widely recognized by [people] of all ages and races. To be silent during this time or to say that you are neutral in a time like this, indirectly means you are on the side of the oppressors. It is of the utmost importance that everyone realizes that people of all races are truly equal. Without proper education and awareness, history can repeat itself and it is our job to spread awareness. Social media platforms are just one tool that prove to be so effective in spreading knowledge, awareness, and news but it is just that: ONE tool. There needs to be more beyond that. Donating to foundations that are directly helping to end police brutality, end racial biases in arrests, helping support the loved ones of those who were tragically taken from them by racist acts, and more, is yet another tool to help. This is the final straw. The time for change is now.” The passion shown is shared by many young teenagers who want to make a change in the world they are growing up in.

Whether you read, listen, watch, talk, teach, follow, or ask, you will be learning. We must all become more educated in order to make the change that we need in this country.