With every triumph or defeat there will always be some overly observant person pointing and prodding at ones decisions like dissections in high school Zoology classes. If there was a time when right and wrong left no room for ambiguity, we have surely missed it as “right” and “wrong” are such fluid, ambiguous terms we’ve learned to take everything with a grain of salt. With biased opinions and the influx of the 24 hour news cycle we often see two opposing sides, but seldom see the truth. We have to make our own decisions based our own understanding to develop our own truth as opposed to allowing others to tell us what to think.
Earlier this week, thousands of teachers in Chicago went on strike in hopes of obtaining better job security, classrooms and pay. The strike quickly prompted “rights” and “wrongs” from both the Chicago Public Schools Administration and The Chicago Teachers Union, with each side producing valid reasoning as to why these steps had been taken. With a proposed %16 pay increase, many wondered how teachers could refuse to accept the new deal; while others, understood job security and better classroom settings play a profound role in the education process. Some blamed teachers for “giving up on the kids,” but sometimes a perceived step backwards can be beneficial to future progress.
Most, if not all, of us have been on an airplane. We’ve heard the safety directions: If the oxygen masks are to drop, we are to take care of ourselves first, before helping others, including children. The reason being, we can’t help others completely if we aren’t in a stable position ourselves.
A variety of opinions have stated the teachers do not have the best interest of the students in mind – they care more about their salary and benefits than the education of the children in Chicago. Of course, these opinions are coming from those who have no experience being a CPS teacher.
There is a possibility that teachers may have a hard time because of the work environment and limited resources in these schools. Their income and benefits may even be negatively affecting their lives outside of work. If the teachers are not taken care of, how can they put their heart and soul into taking care of others?
Who do these kids look to for an outlet, for understanding, when their lives are being debated due to differences in figures wrapped around red tape? We all care about the education of children; particularly, because the glorification of so much violence and ignorance in many current Hip-Hop tracks are put into their heads every day, but when role models are missing where are these kids supposed to look for guidance?
Hip-Hop was and has always given a voice to the voiceless; good or bad. Yes, times have changed, tons of money has been made and the concept of utilizing ones voice and influence has become underrated. Listening to the music and embracing the culture they represent is one thing, but to take a stand, and voice a valid and informed opinion is an entirely different monster. Of course, there are the occasional quips from the Dave Chappelle vault that scream, “Where is Ja to make sense of all this,” but such ratings boosters simply scratch the surface of real problems facing real people.
Regardless of the “rights” or “wrongs” a deal needs to be reached soon, with an emphasis placed on reiterating to thousands of Chicago Public Schools students their education matters to them, but also to the adults from both sides making the decisions.
*The music will always spark feeling and emotion, but from time to time its important to understand music and its impact on issues directly affecting the people around us. Thanks to Milly Vee for lending some introspective thoughts for this write-up.