Alibi V.29 No.27 • July 2-8, 2020 

Town Square

Inequality Starts With Education

Performances from black artists at the BLM ABQ event on June 7.
Performances from black artists at the BLM ABQ event on June 7.
This week Black Voices ABQ, a union of Black, Indigenous, Brown and White allies, celebrates a month of building connections within the New Mexico community. We are celebrating the level of social, emotional, and financial support the community has shown to affect local and national changes. Although we have made much progress in a short time span, there is much to be done. Senior organizations that have been working for the same change in our community have voiced that something feels different this time. People are finally listening.

We are living in an age where educational resources spread via social media at the speed of light. Not only educational resources, but the ability to hold elected officials, businesses and citizens alike accountable is far stronger than in the past. Angry, hurt and exhausted Black and Brown fingers are typing away, rewriting history from the perspective of ourselves and our ancestors, as it truly happened. We are working tirelessly at condensing 400 plus years of hard-to-swallow truth into easily digestible graphics for the world to see. All of this work is toward the goal of spreading the truth and the awareness to push for change.

That being said, awareness is only the start. We as POC (people of color) have been aware for centuries of the unfair policies and social pressures put on our people. We are beginning at what feels like the start. Black Voices ABQ aims to use social media and internet platforms to educate, push and demand change for a stronger, healthier and more diversified community and economy.

A huge factor hindering social change is education. When looking at New Mexico in education rankings, it is most time efficient to simply scroll to the bottom; we are 49th. On top of being one of the lowest ranked states in education, it is a well-known fact that schools with primarily Black and Brown students receive less funding than schools with primarily White students.

Many factors contribute to this, one of which is zoning. Schools in particular zones or communities receive funding from the property taxes on the surrounding area. Students are automatically placed in a school within the zone their family lives in. Thus, lower income communities face this doubly difficult situation where they have less access to resources outside of and inside of school. The connections and opportunities afforded by more highly funded education are inherently not afforded to these communities. If you are not born into a community of higher income, you are far less likely to receive adequate primary education, and opportunities for collegiate education are slimmed. The limited access to the basic right to a higher education needs to be rebuilt into something that benefits all communities equally. It is a necessity that should be accessible to all.

Marchers with signs at the BLM ABQ event on June 7.
Marchers with signs at the BLM ABQ event on June 7.
This is but one of the examples of how systemic racism weighs upon the shoulders of Black, Brown and Indigenous children. Education is disproportionately offered by the government and used as a form of power to excessively affect the voices of our children and that is mainly by means of the school-to-prison pipeline. It is used against us to create an unjust divide between communities.

On the topic of education, New Mexicans are not fully educated on the justice system and judicial system that directly affects us. According to the New Mexico census, 2.6 percent of NM’s population identified as Black or African-American. Black people occupy 7 percent of prisons and 4 percent of jails. That’s 100 times more than the Black population in Albuquerque.

School-to-prison pipeline is a real factor that disproportionately affects Black children. When schools have law enforcement on site, students are more likely to be arrested. The US school and law systems work together through disproportionately disciplined and excessive suspensions and expulsions. It is more likely for a high school dropout to be incarcerated than those who graduate high school.

Black Voices Albuquerque is dedicated to not only educating New Mexico communities on these issues but, also holding accountability to our elected politicians to change oppressive laws that affect us and our future generations. We as Black Voices ABQ are committed to uniting our community by giving a megaphone to Black, Brown and Indigenous voices to push further educational opportunities to turn this moment into a movement for an equal future for all.

If you are a member of a New Mexico-based social, political, charity, educational or arts organization that would like to write an editorial/opinion piece on a specific topic relevant to local readers, please contact editorial@alibi.com. Please use the subject line: Town Square.