My name is Sarah Mondesir, a Sophomore in MSEL “here,” at Terra Linda High School. Throughout my entire life, I have been noticing how I get treated differently from others solely because of the color of my skin. Since there aren’t a lot of black people in Marin I have found it difficult to fit in with different people, mainly because I was judged by others and put into a category. As a person of color, I “have”noticed how society views and treats people of color differently. Many times, I’ve faced bullies and people who always put my racial identity and what society thinks of it before taking the time to understand and know who I am as a person. Growing up, a lot of people would always use my race as a way to degrade me and as a way to put me “down.” Because of this, I just ended up being in a dark place “for” most of my childhood – mainly because I didn’t have anyone to turn to and also because I was ashamed of being Black, because of something I couldn’t control.
Now, I’m not ashamed of my skin color. I realized that having dark skin makes me beautiful and it’s ok to be different. Constantly reminding myself this has made me a whole lot more confident in who I am as a person. By accepting who I am made me accept myself. After I started viewing things a lot more differently -. It has made me realize that I want to help people who may be going through similar situations. I want to be someone that they can look up to and ask questions to because I know what it’s like to not have somebody who can relate to your experiences, to help them get through tough “situations,” and to have the conversations that are needed.
So this year I’ve decided to join a program called the Marin County Youth Commission “(MCYC).” MCYC is a program that was founded in 1969 and was made to act as a political voice for the youth,who are BIPOC’s, LGBTQ+ , ect. . I joined the commission because I knew it would help me be able to take the first big step into reaching out and helping youth like me in my community who have faced discrimination in the form of racism. This program allows BIPOC’s, LGBTQ+ students to go out and make an actual change within their communities.
In this program, we have a few subcommittees that focus on something that they believe need“s” to be discussed a lot more in their communities. “This year,” I am a part of the Racial Equity Subcommittee. Our main goal for this year is to generate ideas and make strides toward a more equitable society. “So far my group and I have just started mapping out our goals going forward, as well as preparing training seminars which we’ll hold [the following year].” We believe that we all can do better and we hope our community will listen. Our committee is hoping to reach out to many young students and teachers all over Marin. By reaching out to many teachers and administration, we can use better tools and ways of teaching in order to help educate their students properly about racism in the United States. Usually, when we are at school and are learning about “slavery,” it seems as though some teachers downplay a lot that has happened throughout history in order to make students feel comfortable in class. When I say students I mostly mean the white students. A lot “of” kids struggle with really understanding how gruesome slavery was back then because of the lack of education. Because of this, “many young kids don’t understand why black people should just, “get over slavery.” Get over it they say, even though they don’t even know what really happened because our school censors many things that are being taught to students when it comes to the struggles of BIPOCs.
If we are being honest, “we’re all living in a system that is and was made for the benefit of white people to succeed.” Now, that does not mean white people in particular don’t suffer, it just means that the system we are currently living through supports white people at the detriment of BIPOCs. Because of this, many schools all over America whitewash a lot of the history that is being taught. Whitewashing is a term that explains how a concept can be changed to appease a historical occurrence that is preferable to white people even if it may not be true. The most commonly known version of history has always been written by the dominant group, leaving gaps when it comes down to historical events. The history curriculum that’s being used in many schools has been “simplified” to the extent that many young people are able to overlook the challenges many groups of people have faced and are facing today. That is why we need to change how we are talking about the past.
Not just me, but many BIPOCs are trying to change the way our history is being taught, because at times it seems as though nobody cares about the struggles we had to face back then and “still” now. People need to understand that we are only trying to express the pain and suffering that we still have to face today and tomorrow. We aren’t able to change our skin and race. Our physical features are permanent. And the system that is used to control and hurt those who are “different”, makes us feel not heard. Sometimes there are days where it feels like Iare drowning in deep ocean waters and that there’s nothing you can do to save myself. BIPOC’s feel hopeless and like you can’t escape the pain and the struggle. It feels like no matter how loud we cry out or how hard you work to save yourself, you are just plunging deeper and deeper into the darkness. You see, that’s why we need change, that’s why we crave a change within our society. It’s really scary to think about your future children living in a world where they would be discriminated against, hated, and maybe even murdered just because of “what” they are. I have three sisters, do you understand how sad and heart-wrenching it is to have to explain what can happen to them in the future?
I’m saying this so people can understand how difficult it is for many BIPOCs to find their place here, in the United States. There’s a lot of people who aren’t fully understanding and grasping why racism is bad and why we all need to start working on forming equality among all people, no matter who or what they are. Because of this, a lot of people end up saying hurtful things like, “Slavery was just a long time ago,” or making insensitive “jokes” about something that has harmed a community as a whole to this day. When I speak out to students about the hurtfulness of these statements, they’ll usually end up saying, “Well I wasn’t educated enough about this topic,” as a way to justify their actions. Some may even respond with, “what’s wrong with saying that?” Well a lot of people, especially big influencers today, use that excuse to get out of situations where their actions have been called into question for being racist or bigoted, which can be very frustrating and damaging towards many different Black, Indeginous, People of color because we know they will never be held accountable and instead model this response as acceptable to society. Honestly, I just want to change how racial minority groups are portrayed and viewed today. I’m tired of being thought less of. We are all tired. As a community concerned about racial equity, we ought to do something about it when we understand the harm it has. These important issues can help people understand why it’s important to make sure that the system that has been created doesn’t pick and choose who to support, so that we can all have the same education. And through that education, we can also inform many young people as to why our environment is important and why we need to start making sure we are addressing racism directly.