By Skyla Bailey •
A Message to Virginia Department of Education (VDOE):
Our history classes constantly teach students to think of European History when they think of “American” History. However, African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinx Americans are all part of America. Students of Color in Virginia want to learn more about our history and our stories. People of color had a tremendous effect on and shaped what America is today; however, their impact in America gets consistently marginalized or underrepresented. America would not be America if it were not for the immigrants and people of color building this country from the ground up. It is such a disservice and disheartening that we only learn a limited amount about these people of color as a sidebar in a textbook.
This is a call to action to teach more history lessons/books and stories about these minorities. Students of color want to see themselves as leaders and change-makers, not mere paragraphs or side-notes in a history book. Also, learning about our history will combat racism and fight social injustice by exposing kids to what hardships and struggles people of color faced. Many are acutely unaware, and this ignorance only exacerbates current tensions in society as people of color fight for change. A common thread in many calls for social justice recently has been, “Why did I not learn about this in school?” While obviously some historical events must be glossed over for the sake of time, changing the history curriculum now is vital to eliminating racism, prejudice, and bigotry. People cannot effectively cry for social justice nor expose the struggles of people of color when so many are oblivious to the very events of the past against which they protest.
Skyla Bailey is passionate about educational racial justice and allowing everyone of all races to have equal opportunity and resources. She believes that education and knowledge is one of the biggest tools of success and that it is utterly essential that everyone has a proper tools of success to design their future. In addition to combating educational injustice, she is the current Program Lead for Team Enough VA, where she and her co-lead organize lobby days, collaborate with several activists in marginalized communities around Virginia, and keep members involved with intersectional webinars pertaining to gun violence prevention efforts. She was also the former co-outreach director for March for Our Lives VA. During her time at MFOL VA, she and her co-director hosted a town hall meeting in Richmond, Virginia where community leaders such as Schuyler VanValkenburg & Joshua Cole, progressive organizations such as RISE for Youth, and community members were able to talk about gun violence and ways to prevent it in our neighborhoods.