My K-12 education was successful by many traditional standards — good grades, “respectful” behavior, college-bound. And yet looking back two decades later, with genuine sadness I see it for what it was — two-dimensional and dormant.
So much more was possible. This is one reason Ali Muldrow’s campaign for Seat 6 on the Madison School Board has hit such a nerve for me. Ali’s entire approach to learning is unapologetically alive. It’s expansive, deep, luscious and radically empathic. She fully embraces wonder and smart, soulful discovery. As I navigate the Madison Metropolitan School District with my first-grader, this is the kind of experience I want him and all his fellow students to have in this district, not to mention their hardworking teachers and parents.
Another reason Ali’s campaign is striking such a nerve is the pivotal and historic time at which it is occurring. We are all acutely aware our democracy and lives are quite literally in the balance. Yet, we must also recognize those pushed to the margins of our society have lived this for quite some time. They have been telling us; we just chose not to listen.
Ali is a queer black woman who has navigated her entire K-12 MMSD education with multiple marginalizing identities. She knows firsthand what it is like to be silenced, disregarded and devalued because of how society views her. Not only has she fought back against this, she has dedicated her adult life to amplifying the voices and leadership of others who are also marginalized. We need these voices now more than ever.
I am not voting for Ali so she alone can “fix” everything. I’m not expecting her to have all of the answers. I’m voting for her because she knows what it’s like to not have a seat at the table, and she is committed to making space for everyone, especially those left out historically and today. Her presence is going to start a conversation we aren’t having that we desperately need to have. We may not be making the exact same points, but I know we will be speaking the same language — the language of liberation. And that’s worth my vote. Please join me with yours on Feb. 21.
Sarah Hinkley ([email protected]) is a member of the Madison community and a mother whose child attends Madison public schools.