In the words of my favorite sports podcast The Jalen and Jacoby Show…I’m going to try not to get fired today.
Talking about the Black Male experience is not an easy subject to tackle but I feel like I must contribute to the conversation because I have not seen anyone give their take on how this relates to the education we provide to them. As an Black Man, I am going to try my best to give an honest accounting of what goes through my mind when I see those in authority end our existence on camera right before our eyes with little to no chance of justice.
Our children in these schools regardless of race are seeing these images. As a man, I feel a combination of two feelings.
The first feeling is numbness. We have seen this story so many times that now I can really get angry anymore. I watched Eric Garner choked to death. No one went to jail. I watched an unarmed man in South Carolina get shot in the back and have a gun placed on him. No one went to jail. I watched a pre-teen get shot in a park within two seconds of the police arriving in AN OPEN CARRY STATE because he had a toy gun in his hands. No one went to jail.
This doesn’t even include the recent incidents because I refuse to watch another video of someone being killed.
So how do these images relate to education? It’s simple.
How can we effectively educate our students if they do not feel safe from the people that above all circumstance should have their safety in mind? How do you gain trust, as authority figures within our schools if it is clear that authority does not mean justice will be doled out with equity?
We teach our students about the constitution but can see clearly with visual evidence that the idea of ALL PEOPLE ARE CREATED EQUAL does not exist even after all of the marching, praying, and screaming we have done.
I feel utter despair. I feel sense of hopelessness that I never experienced even when after burying both of my parents before the age of twelve. In those times there were rational reasons for why I had to say goodbye to them.
How can we as educators rationalize deadly force being used when it feels and looks unnecessary?
I feel really, really sad. The despair I feel is that I cannot think of any rational solutions to this problem.
Until you are pulled over by an officer and feel the heart murmur and fear that this could be your last moment because their is a chance this will not go as planned, you will probably never know. I have experienced this. Many are going to say that I shouldn’t have felt this way and that I am exaggerating the experience. To that I say, my feelings are valid and shouldn’t be discounted in the same way I hope I never do that to someone else.
I feel fear when I see the police. This is not hyperbole. This is not an exaggeration. I feel fear. My utter despair comes from the love I have for my two daughters and the thousands of students I have touched in my ten years in education.
How do we prepare students for a world that does not seek justice for those that are murdered on camera?
How can we lead the students of this generation when they know that there is a different system in place for those that are seen as less than by those in authority?
These are questions we must answer before we can push our students to greatness. Without the answers, we will not be able to reach all of them.
The numbness and despair that I feel will be put aside over the next couple of weeks as I help prepare our amazing principals to open the school year with amazing results. I will wear the mask because there isn’t another choice. We have to do what is best for our children.