Letter: Dear Reading


Latoya Kibusi ('22)

Last week RMHS sophomore Latoya Kibusi asked Principal Boynton to distribute this letter to the staff and students of RMHS.  It was distributed through email.  The Orbit reprints it here with the writer’s permission.

Dear Reading,

My name is Latoya S. Kibusi and I am a black student in Reading Memorial High School. I am emailing you today because while I’ve only had to spend middle school getting my peers to hear my voice, I’ve spent my whole life trying to get my voice heard. In middle school I was hurting. I was misheard, misunderstood, and under-represented. I tried to make a change in Reading but I was set up for failure.

I live in a predominantly white neighborhood. My middle school experience mostly involves me putting up posters and making speeches about being treated right and that is not acceptable. I should not have been fighting to be treated with respect. I should have been enjoying my youth. But how could I have done that when every time I walked the hall I heard the n-word like it was the only word in white kid’s vocabulary?How could I have done that when every time February comes around my stomach turns just like white kids’ heads turn to me when they hear the word “slavery,” acting like I was there or something? How could I have done that when all I have been told is to shut up because I have it “good” by living here? How could I have done that when I knew my brothers and sisters were getting killed in neighborhoods that weren’t so “good”? How could I have done that when all my thoughts were about death and wondering which one of my “friends” is going to kill me first?

I censored a lot of myself ever since I found out my blackness can get me killed. Ever since I found out my blackness makes white kids uncomfortable. Ever since I found out my blackness is not beautiful or intelligent. I AM DONE CENSORING MY BLACKNESS. In middle school I told myself to keep on fighting and keep on pushing but ever since I came to high school my voice started disappearing because I was tired of fighting. I was tired of maintaining my peace. I was tired of holding the world on my shoulders. I was tired of crying every night. I was tired of yelling at white boys. I was tired of asking myself if this is depression. I was tired of filtering myself with my friends. I was tired of teachers acting like they knew me. I was tired of apologizing. I was tired of explaining. I was tired so I let silence take over me. But that silence hurt me and my people more than me being tired.

Reading is not diverse but it still has people of different colors and cultures. Despite that, ALL Reading diversity clubs are filled with white people. That does not make sense, unless you realize that’s because all the kids of color avoid those clubs. Reading Public Schools does not prioritize making kids of color and culture comfortable. Reading Public Schools does not acknowledge the ignorance that choice is teaching all kids. We as a Reading community need to do better, and I can not be the only one trying to do better. Black voices are not heard in Reading and black kids can not be your golden ticket to proving a point. If you want us to speak about our problems, we need you to listen and take notes and apply what we say to the community. Black kids do not have the power in this town, you adults do. So help us help you help us.

Thank you for reading.