By Jamila Martin
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Jamila Martin is the Director of Operations for 482 Forward. They are a education network group that works hard every day to organize parents, teachers and youth to advocate for a better education environment for Detroit’s classrooms.
The following blog is her thoughts of what our nation’s pulse is today. And we need to do moving forward. After your read tweet your thoughts on Twitter @DSchoolsRock.
Our members come to us because they care about education, and that’s primarily what we talk to you about. And although we focus on education, we understand that to include anything that could affect student achievement. Transit, housing, trauma – it’s fair game for 482Forward if we can establish a direct link to children succeeding. But that’s still a pretty strict reading of our mission.
Molly and I have often said over the past two years that we need to get strong internally first so that we can become a good ally to other pieces of a broad movement for justice. But the moment has come to us, ready or not.
My mother’s family is Jewish, from Eastern Europe.
I was raised in a radical Jewish community for whom a core narrative was the experience of the Holocaust. Much like many Americans who were singled out during the Trump campaign as threats to American prosperity, many Jews considered themselves a part of German society before they were charged with causing Germany’s economic decline in the 1930s. Jews held respected positions. Some were wealthy. Even as the Race Laws passed, and as concentration camps were built, many couldn’t believe that their neighbors would really exterminate them.
I’m not writing this to create a panic or to suggest that concentration camps are in America’s future. I just want us to remember how easily we can turn against one another, and how deadly the consequences can be. The kind of scapegoating that pervaded the presidential campaign creates a hate that destroys and then moves on. It needs new places to go, new targets to feast on. We’ve got to stop it in its tracks before it can take hold.
Even as we continue to focus on education, 482Forward will speak out against hate wherever we see it, against discrimination, against whatever violates the core principles of our democracy. We will speak out on behalf of respect and love for humanity everywhere.