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Meet One + One Dallas

July 31, 2018
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by Jason Lewis, Executive Director of One + One Dallas

As a black man who grew up in the public school system, I was given a rare opportunity. In fourth grade, my teacher had suggested that I be tested for the “academically gifted” track.  Without realizing all that was at stake, I goofed around and failed the test. I cried, fearing my opportunity was lost forever, but was given a merciful second chance and passed. It’s amazing what people can do when opportunity does not expire and when advocacy prevails.

Even though my school had been predominantly black, I was always a minority in my “gifted and talented” classes which were almost all white students. At the time, I didn’t question why all my white classmates, especially those who were not visibly poor, also happened to be academically gifted.

As high school senior, I was asked to help prep “non-gifted” students for the SAT and was thrilled to be back in a classroom with my boys. These students looked like me. We played football together. We grew up together. We’d even been raised in the same school system.  So I couldn’t understand why these students had never heard of an analogy. At first I thought maybe it was an issue of focus, but the truth is that these students had been failed by the same school system that had given me a chance. They had never been taught even a fraction of the education I had received.

In hindsight, I recognize that I had been singled out. Someone had advocated for me and put me on a path to succeed. To this day, I’m not so sure how academically “gifted” I truly am or was, but I do know that I was given an opportunity that most young boys like me aren’t afforded.

I wonder how many of us would have passed that test if we had all been given a chance. I wonder how many of us could have walked around calling ourselves a gift instead of a thug. I wonder what depth our identity would have been able to hold, had we not been socially constructed as a color – a color which God saw fit to create. I wonder how many more of those young men, dismissed from the third-grade forward, would have been equipped and willing to serve humanity.

It’s time to find out. One + One Dallas has a simple goal, partnering faith communities with public schools. This, for me, is an imperative standard to my claim of God. It is an opportunity to change the narrative and remember that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – Martin Luther King Jr. I pray that you will all join in this moment. Our number has been called. Our time has come.

For more information on One + One Dallas,
contact Jason at jlewis@oneplusonedallas.org.

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