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JBHonestly, I am getting tired of hearing people provide reasons in order to justify the closing and mergers of schools that are ALL located within the Black community; for trumped up reasons such as low enrollment. Unless you have been sleeping under a rock, you would know that none of this stuff has happened overnight.

 

Rev-John-Henry-Jack-Yates

There is no way you can lose 70% of the students in a school in less than 10 years unless there is something seriously wrong with the school that would drive the attendance down

For God’s sake, who in the world would want to run away from a school that is doing well and is offering its students everything they need to thrive in this country? Doesn’t that sound strange to you?

I am proud graduate of James D. Ryan Middle School and Jack Yates Sr. High School. For many of you that don’t know the history of Ryan and Yates, let me give you a brief one.

Yates High is named after Reverend John Henry "Jack" Yates, a former slave and a minister. Yates was established on February 8, 1926, as Yates Colored High School with 17 teachers and 600 students and was the second school for African-Americans established in Houston. The first principal, James D. Ryan, served as the principal from the opening until his death in 1941. After Yates High School relocated from Elgin to 3703 Sampson in 1958, Ryan Colored Junior High School opened in Yates's former location.  

There is so much rich history that goes along with these two schools, which is why I am saddened that from 2002 to 2013, the student population of Ryan fell 70%, from 830 students to currently 263 students.  

Key programs, which have always been the life blood of Black schools, have been gutted. In an attempt to get the best quality education, Black people have felt the need to go to schools attended by White students. Whether you agree or disagree with their decision, Black parents have always wanted better for their kids than they had, so running away from schools that have been set up to fail and running towards schools which are seemingly better makes sense.

There are a myriad of things which contribute to this low enrollment issue and this mass Black exodus away from the schools they should receive the same quality education and resources for. Those who pay taxes or live in these communities, yet sit back and tolerate what is happening to these schools should be ashamed.

Anybody who pays taxes or lives in an area where any school is located deserves quality resources and quality teachers. Who wants to send their child to a building with poor teachers, crowded classrooms, no textbooks and no resources?   And to hear Black people cosign with the destructive propaganda of those who systematically seek to institute policies, pass laws and make decisions that contribute to the demise of our community is extremely disheartening.

Don't we see what is happening to our communities?   We will never have what we need, in order to grow and flourish within our own communities, if we don't stand up and demand that things be corrected and addressed proactively.

Instead, we tend to run away from the problem; running to places where the grass is ‘allegedly’ greener on the other side. We lose strength and power when that happens. Our lack of unity, hopelessness and failure to fight, weakens us as a collective unit.

I know we want the best education for our children, and so do I. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, if we sit back and do nothing for the families who can't afford or get in to the "best" school around, then we are contributors to the problem.

Black people have to not only speak up and use their collective strength to address these issues.   We cannot look away and ignore these issues because they don’t directly impact us either. Whether we believe it or not, these issues indirectly impact us and our society also.

Many of us are being duped and deceived every single day, thinking we know everything because we have a fancy education; fancy position; fancy job/career; or a little money in our pockets.   Truth be told, many of us have become hamsters on the wheel of life; chasing after the favor of the 'powers that be,' while eating nothing but the crumbs from their table. If you really want to keep it real, just look at the grand scheme of things. Our people don't have a collective pot to piss in, yet we refuse to operate under a spirit of unity and togetherness as a people.

We are being taken out by the ‘powers that be,’ just like an experienced sniper does a target. Sadly, we have the bulls’ eye on our back, and not only are we too blind to see it, these snipers rarely ever miss. We can’t gamble with the future of our next generations of leaders. Just like in Vegas, you will never have more money or time to beat the House; the House never loses.

I can only imagine what our Civil Rights pioneers would say to us today if they were alive. I would venture to say that many of them would think some of us are some "fearful chickens," having no backbone to fight for what rightfully belongs to us. Thank God for those slaves and those Civil Rights icons who refused to sit back and get pimped or pushed over; while on their way to demanding their freedom and equality.

Honestly, what do you think they would say?

Jeffrey L. Boney is Associate Editor for the Houston Forward Times newspaper, a Next Generation Project Fellow and a dynamic, international speaker.  Jeffrey is the Founder and CEO of the Texas Business Alliance and is an experienced entrepreneur and business development strategist. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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