Dulce Marquez

You pride yourselves in being the most diverse city in the world, yet your public school system is more segregated than in the South.
 Dulce is a senior at New Heights Academy Charter School in Hamilton Heights.

Dulce is a senior at New Heights Academy Charter School in Hamilton Heights.

They run as if they were playing tag

Pushing against each other

Competing to see who’s early enough

Who’s fast enough.

 

But no, they’re not stepping on a track

Their feet are on classrooms floors

And they are racing for calculators

Specifically, Texas Instrument TI-84.

 

You are lucky if you don’t have to share them

Lucky in the first place if you have one

Or else you’re stuck with the old ones

The ones that become the reason you aren’t part of the class

The ones that you’d only do Algebra with.

 

But you are in a Calculus class

A class where having a TI-84 makes your life much easier

A class you feel privileged to be in

Privileged because The Atlantic states how

Classrooms with the majority of students who look like me

Are rarely offered classes like Chem, Physics, and Algebra 2.

 

You cannot ask me to remain sane

When the promised Calculus textbooks aren’t at our tables

And it’s already March (Technically April, but who am I kidding, are they even coming?)

 

You cannot ask me to remain sane

You cannot ask me to stay seated

You cannot ask me to stay silent

Not when my education is barely the half

As the students who don’t look like me

Whose pockets are full

Whose resources are endless

Whose futures are a given

Whose parents’ legacy

Is a promised seat at Harvard.

 

I was a book thief

When I slept on cardboard

When I was ashamed to ask my parents for a dollar

When all my clothes were hand me downs

When my sneakers weren’t Nikes

And my classmates famous tagline was out of their lips: What are those?

Yet even as a book thief, this system steals my education more than I steal mine.

 

You pride yourselves in doing so

In splitting the line

Calling some gifted

Perhaps even specialized

As if God said Hispanic, Latinos, and Blacks are to be in underserved public schools

And Caucasians and Asians were to be filling the halls of Specialized, Early Colleges, and Privates.

 

You pride yourselves in making an equal system

A system that’s supposed be more diverse

But everyone has the same opportunity to take that test!

Of course everyone does

The test is just the Jim Crow Laws

For the Blacks’ new right to vote.

 

You pride yourselves in being the most diverse city in the world

Yet your public school system is more segregated than in the South.

 

You pride yourselves in that your history doesn’t include

Massacres and deaths of innocent children and people

You pride yourselves in owning the name of New York

And not Alabama or Mississippi.


But why pride yourselves in all that?

We ain’t talking about history

We are living in the present

And before you know it,

New York is in a textbook in the chapter on school segregation

A textbook a Black student wouldn’t touch

And perhaps we may not have photos stating “Whites only”

But when you call a school “Screened”

We have to question who exactly you’re trying to screen out.

 

If you don’t start doing something about this segregated system

You’ll wind up on the wrong side of history

But I am not so terrified about that

Because here we are

The minority against the public school system

We regret to inform you

That we are the majority

And we aren’t going anywhere.