Mackee Mason is the principal at Austin Achieve Public Schools. But at a protest led by teachers Friday, he shared a time when the police made him, a black man, feel like a criminal.
A student had implied he might have a gun.
“So I did what you’re supposed to do: I called the police,” Mason told the crowd of teachers at Republic Square in downtown Austin. “When the police showed up, I was quickly reminded that my position, my degrees, the years I put into fighting for the liberation of our scholars didn’t matter."
He said police threw him to the ground, along with the student, and put him in handcuffs while pointing guns at him – even though people yelled that he was the principal.
Mason said he feels lucky to be alive, but he wants better for his black students.
The teacher-led protest against police killings of black people was also a chance to highlight the inequities that exist for black students in education.
“We can’t policy our way out, wordsmith our way out, march our way out of racism,” Courtney Robinson, a professor at Huston-Tillotson University, said. “Brown v. Board [was] an ideal and beautiful [court decision], but what do our schools look like right now?”
Joseph Frilot, a teacher at IDEA Montopolis College Prep, led the marchers from Republic Square to City Hall. Frilot, who teaches sixth and seventh grade social studies, said history classrooms are one ways schools perpetuate racism.
“The curriculum itself is very racist and leaves out a lot of different voices,” he said. “The main voice we hear is white voices.”
As a black man, he said he knows having teachers with backgrounds similar to students is important and that he wants to see more black teachers in the classroom.
“In order for there to even be more black educators we have to better the education for black students,” he said. “[We have to] ensure we create a college-going culture and a culture that understands and propagates economic stability for all students.”
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