Updated: May 9, 2020
AHMAUD ARBERY. No daddy. Eat watermelon. Bad choices. Your brown skin isn’t beautiful. Black-faced projects accepted and displayed at school. Video of girl proclaiming that she doesn't care who doesn't like it if she uses the n-word; blurred parents' faces--afraid to speak up for their kids' sake. This is America. Teachers dressing up as Mexicans and a wall for Halloween and thought it was hilarious posting IG pics of it. This is America. A teacher telling black students to stand next to the gorilla cage with a caption that read “Monkey See, Monkey Do”(New York Post). That particular district paid $12 million in a lawsuit from the parents of the boys. All of these situations involved teachers and students. All of these things have happened in the last two years, 2018-2020. We are not talking about 1960. We are talking about today...this day and age. I remember being a student in high school and believing that things would be different with my generation. To say that racism is dead because we had a “black president” is blasphemy. To believe that our country has progressed beyond hate crimes and derogatory words used to hurt people of color is unfortunately so far from the truth.
Parents of students of color all over the country are having "the talk" that many saw on the #proctorandgamble commercial. This commercial displayed parents teaching their kids about the unspoken rules of our society for black kids. Keep your hands on the steering wheel if you are pulled over;
telling their kids to “ignore” it when people say mean things to them trying to heal the wounds of those sharp tongues by saying things like, “Keep your head up, you know who God made you.” We have to teach children of color that they are unique, smart and beautiful in the homes because we live in a world that is continually telling them the opposite. This commercial made so many people uncomfortable, but I wanted to post this one more time because maybe now, people are ready.
Maybe now, with the #ahmaudarbery murder + the pandemic people are in a situation where they cannot simply continue with business as usual and they WILL pay attention. For some, they will relate this treatment to the characteristics of bullying--to make themselves feel comfortable and in a sense, you are correct. It is targeted towards a certain person; over and over again; sometimes to the point of breaking. But, on the contrary, this is plain and blatant HATE. Bullying is treated a tad bit differently in schools. You see, we have assemblies about anti-bullying; we make posters about anti-bullying; we have advisement lessons about bullying; and we emphasize anti-bullying during our orientation of students. Now, I know what you are thinking...yes, but bullying still exists. To which I would respond, it does still exist, but it is also at the forefront of our minds. Teachers, administrators, students, and parents are all sensitive to the idea of bullying oftentimes reporting even the most minuscule thing that even resembles bullying.
1. What would happen if schools implemented anti-racism in schools?
2. What would happen if there was an intentional training for adults to know how to address racism when they saw it--in classrooms, schools, police departments, churches, at the dinner table?
3. What are we doing to truly get a pulse on what our organization's climate is like as it relates to
culture and belonging?
4. How do we show that we are truly making an effort--not just talking about it, being about it!
These issues are a huge undertaking but we must start somewhere. We cannot be angry making posts and hashtags one day and forget about it the next.
Perhaps if we had this same attitude and urgency about being anti-racist AND teaching anti-hate in schools and in this nation, there would be more reports rather than just accepting these hateful words and murders or quickly sweeping it under the rug with a swift consequence--or even worse--PRETENDING IT NEVER HAPPENED. Never taking the time to openly discuss race and truly take the steps to implement an anti-racist culture in our schools, businesses, hospitals, churches, and communities is no longer acceptable.
There is a nation-wide issue with acts of hate that not only result in hurt feelings and fear, BUT DEATH! We must begin somewhere. My area of expertise is education, and I have a strong passion for implementing plans in schools and districts to begin this lifelong work of humanity. My prayer is that the conversations also begin in the homes of white Americans who are also sick and tired of humans being hunted.