Ambassador voices: An open letter to those who have failed us

Illustration shows a group of young people sitting on a giant letter holding pencils

Emmanuela is 17 years old and a Young Ambassador for The Mix. She has written this open letter to her school.

Look at the students of this school for what we are.

Working-class young people from majority black and brown backgrounds. Now, look at the teachers. Do they reflect that? The answer you’re looking for is no. What does that teach me? Authority figures do not look like me.

Every time this school allows a homophobic person to roam scot-free, you have failed them and the rest of us; for allowing another person to go into society holding those views. You have failed us for cancelling Japanese and for making it acceptable that there was no drama teacher for a point in time.

Who can I blame? These things are never anyone’s fault, are they? I can only talk about the results. Shutting off the creative avenues of the working class, black and brown population of this school. Because we don’t matter, do we?

We won’t complain about it, and if we do, we will be ignored or sanctioned. Why is it now, in the midst of the resurgence of Black Lives Matter, that people finally value my opinion? I have been screaming since before I could speak to be heard. Screaming so loudly and silenced so often.

No, I don’t actually want to spend every waking moment of my time coming up with the solution when I’m not the problem. No, I don’t want to become a teacher and ‘be the change.’ Have you ever considered that I have my own dreams? No. Because my whole life is politicised. Every second it’s my job to ‘fight the power.’ I’m 17 years old and I’m already exasperated.

Look at us for what we are. Working-class young people from majority black and brown backgrounds. We aren’t like you. ‘You,’ being the people who are in charge of us and our wellbeing. Will you applaud this raw piece of honesty and continue to expel black boys at astronomical rates? Probably. Because everything you do is performative. Nobody listens until it’s too late.

The pastoral care of this school is shameful. The bullying problem is severe. But OFSTED rated it outstanding in 2012 so it must be. The banner outside says so! The truth hurts, doesn’t it? This is not a poem. It is not open to interpretation. These are my raw, unfiltered thoughts that are free of buzzwords.

My life already is so much bigger than this school. And it will be. I promise myself that. But things around here won’t change. Not any time soon. And when they do, I will never be credited. Do what you want with this, post it wherever you like. But if you don’t listen, it’s futile. Don’t insult me by wasting my time. Just know that you have failed me. And I will remember. No, I don’t want to work on it with you, I’m busy. And it’s not my fault.

Think about this when the school re-opens. And if I see your words reflected in your actions, then we can talk. On my schedule, since it’s your problem.

If you need support with any of these issues

Our team are here to listen and to talk about anything that’s on your mind. Get in touch with our support team here.

Read Rachel’s article on how to be an ally to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Read Kiki’s piece on learning to love your dark skin.

Next Steps

  • Student Minds is the UK's student mental health charity. Search their website for information, research, and to see how you could get involved.
  • If you're under 25 and would like free confidential telephone counselling from The Mix to help you figure things out complete this form and we'll call you to arrange your first session.
  • Mind offers advice and support to people with mental health problems. Their helpline runs nine to six from Monday to Friday. 0300 123 3393
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Emmanuela Adebisi

Updated on 02-Sep-2020