Equity •Vigilance •Advocacy
Kisa Marx has a story to share. Unfortunately, this story of racism, profiling, and vigilance is not unique to Kisa. Bravely, she joins us to share her story in her own voice.
A Frighteningly Common Incident.
Kisa is the mother of three black boys. Unfortunately, her family’s experiences with racism and harassment are not uncommon for people of color. Jalen, Kisa’s youngest son, has been and continues to be profiled by school administration and police officers at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Illinois.
At the beginning of the school year, Jalen was stopped on suspicion of involvement in a drug-related incident. However, this was quickly proven to be false. Shockingly, Jalen still received punishment for “hanging out with the wrong people” and that punishment was exactly the same as those who were accused and found to be guilty.
This would be bad enough on its own, unfortunately, after the incident, Jalen continues to face scrutiny and harassment. This harassment has been particularly bad from school security guards.
Kisa immediately sprung into action to get answers from the school. Frustratingly, she was ignored, gaslighted, and pawned off to every possible school administrator. Eventually, as a last resort, she filed a grievance and rallied her local community in support of her family. Eventually, she received a response that was subpar and unsatisfactory. Sadly, the situation continues to be deeply problematic for Jalen and the entire Marx family.
Time to pay attention and take action.
What Kisa and her family is facing is, sadly, not a unique situation. This type of mistreatment and profiling occurs every day in schools across our country. Devastatingly, this is the average young black man’s experience. Through sharing her story, Kisa hopes to bring a community to attention. She also makes it clear that she is not going away until these issues are gone. Like every mother, Kisa will continue to stand up for the children but it's not a battle she can fight alone.
Throughout the episode, we are reminded that these experiences are common for people of color. Then, we have an opportunity to learn more about using privilege to create change. Lastly, the entire episode encourages us to improve as individuals and as a community. Kisa’s story drives home the importance of rising up and doing better by our children and communities. This is a responsibility that each of us must own.
This is much bigger than Kisa’s family. We can no longer allow schools and people in power to racially profile our young men of color. At this point, silence is complacency and that is unacceptable. Now, we must come together to make a change.
Additional information related to Kisa’s interview.
View Kisa’s open letter to Oak Park and River Forest here.
Also discussed in the episode is the documentary America to Me. We highly encourage you to check it out.
- You have to speak your truth. If you don’t agree with something, there’s a way to voice it.
- Your voice is valid.
- We all have a right to fair treatment.
Kisa proudly supports person-to-person charities. This passion comes from once being on the receiving end of these organizations. Therefore, her favorite is Working Bikes in the Chicago area. They provide sources of empowerment to individuals and families by redistributing donated or discarded bicycles. One bike provides transportation, a method for towing cargo, or even a power source of electricity. Working Bikes is changing lives one bicycle at a time.
Kisa, her husband, and their three boys!