It's Time for More Voices at the Table

  • Apr 14, 2017
  • camille


I ran for Mt. Diablo School Board because I’ve been that new kid who couldn’t speak the language, that girl who “didn’t look like an engineer,” that white girl in the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert who felt the generous hospitality of Bedouins.  People are so much more alike than we are different, and public education is what brings us all together here in the U.S., teaching us how to participate in our democracy for the good of us all.

Sadly now, as our Statue of Liberty watches over us, “several countries — including France, Germany and the United Arab Emirates — have issued advisories in recent months urging caution for travelers to the United States over gun violence, police shootings and anti-Muslim attitudes.”[i]

Wasn’t the Ku Klux Klan a group we read about in school as a terrible chapter of our history, not our present?  Yet here we are in 2017 with hate crimes at a near all-time high, with open white supremacists in leadership positions of our nation.[ii]  Just in the past three months, two Indian men sitting quietly in a bar in Kansas and a Sikh man in his driveway in Washington State were shot, right after the shooters proclaimed “get out of my country”!  My husband’s parents immigrated to the US from India and he was born here. We ask ourselves: who is safe?

One of our Emerge California workshops led us to delve deep into our past, to recognize where we personally have experienced privilege or oppression/discrimination.  Through the workshop we learned how no person is just one “ism.”  We may experience power and lack of power, even simultaneously, because of various aspects of our gender, race, class, ability, religion, age, and more.  Yet all of these “isms” are based on one central lie: that some groups of people are more valuable than others. If a society is organized around that premise, there will be real, logical, predictable consequences.  These individual acts of hate are not random.  They are in fact, quite predictable.

What I will take with me from Emerge is this:  

As public servants representing everyone in our community, we must look at every decision through a justice lens, asking:

  1. Who is affected by this decision?
  2. Who is not at this table?
  3. What don’t I know yet?

Decisions made for the public good happen at all levels, from school board and water board, all the way up to the President and his or her Executive Orders. It is time for more voices at the table, to enable better decision making that serves this diverse country. Every citizen has a voice that is magnified by joining others. I felt this firsthand this month when acting as part of a group that spoke up to push our school board to pass a Safe Haven Resolution.  Together we can ensure a quality education truly for every child, if we begin with the simple belief that any one child is as valuable as any other.

Cherise Khaund

Emerge California class of 2017

Twitter: @cherisekhaund

“Together We Can”  ¡Todos juntos sí se puede!