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Band-Aids and Systemic Change

People love using band-aids. As a little kid I can remember the security I felt after scraping my knee on the asphalt and receiving the ritual of having my grandmother comfort me through my childhood tears by offering a dab of Neosporin and a fresh band-aid. The band-aid made everything feel better. It covered up the ugly problem that lingered below. It helped make the bleeding stop. Band-aids were great when I was five (especially the ones with the Flintstone design), but unfortunately 15 years later I am starting to look at band-aids from a different perspective.

I have come to believe that band-aids do not prevent harm from happening, they only aid in the aftereffects of a greater problem. Everywhere I look in society, on various administrative levels I observe institutions placing band-aids on problems that exist.

Two examples:

The education system: Instead of fixing and making the public education system stronger, people want to open up a new charter school down the street. While I have experienced both good and bad charter schools, if the public school down the street still has books from the 90’s, teachers that don’t care and no art or music classes, I identify that charter school (which is usually smaller and serves less people) as some kind of a band-aid serving as a facade in order to make people think everything is getting better with education in each prospective city.

Violence: When people see violence they cry out for more police officers, more security cameras, more incarceration. People want to feel safe but most of the time some of the safest neighborhoods have some of the fewest police officers, why? Because the inception of violence does not take place because of a lack of law enforcement, violence begins because of a disparity in socio-economic opportunity.  The roots of violence are partnered with inequality in resources. (Yes, I know, I know, agency is included in there somewhere, but I digress). The band-aid of more police officers will not eradicate these inequalities, and the feasibility of such an option is very low in these days of the Great Recession.

My problem with band-aids is that they don’t bring any type of systemic or substantial change; they do what they were made to do, aid a problem that already exists. I realize that these various band-aids in society are needed in multiple arenas, but I also fear that these band-aids only cover up the problems that are very much realities and make people feel comfortable with the lack of progress and shortage of solutions that seem to only surface in our communities.

In other words, its like someone’s arm got cut off, and people want to place 1000 band-aids over it to create some type of illusion that the arm is healing. Well, its not! The problems are only getting worse and poor people are usually the ones to feel the most severity. Systemic change does not come from band-aids. And it will never come if we continue to just hide and cover up the problems that marginalized communities experience on a daily basis. Systemic change comes from attacking problems from their root. Most politicians, administrators, and even some activists don’t want to solve things from the root because it’s harder to do. But until we truly become dedicated to holistically fixing the problems that we face in our society, we will be facing them for generations to come.