Despite the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement and the life work of Black freedom fighters including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcom X, Dorothy I. Height, and countless others, the African-American community is undergoing civil unrest that is targeted towards our most precious possession—our children. The racially charged violence against our young people is despicable. In the 21st Century, when a parent has to bury their child prematurely because of police brutality, our response as a community should be outrage, we should push for legislation to protect our kids, and we should peaceably protest and organize ourselves to advocate for change.
“We’ve got to work to save our children and do it with full respect for the fact that if we do not, no one else is going to do it” –Dorothy Height
What we should not do is teach our children to accept social injustice by training them to allay and acquiesce to ridiculous police behavior. To begin with, we should be teaching our children manners, tolerance for others, and respect for authority, but teaching them to assuage the egos of crooked cops and compromise their institutional rights is wrong.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
After the ghastly incident in a Spring Valley high school involving the brutal handling of a young woman at the hands of the school’s resource officer, over a cellphone took place, many videos are populating on social media of kids displaying behavior opposite of the young woman in the video. These videos include students cursing, fighting with teachers, disrupting class, and wreaking havoc on one another. Seemingly distracted from the issue at hand, some of us are justifying the actions of the cop in the Spring Valley High incident, saying maybe the young woman deserved that horrific treatment because kids nowadays have no respect. In the blink of an eye, these videos have desensitized us to our own children and we’re placing the fate of their lives in the hands of people who do not care about them, and show no qualms about harming them. Bottom line, disrespectful kids should be punished but they should not be traumatized, brutalized, and even killed.
We certainly should not allow the media to obscure our ideas of the issues concerning our community. The videos circulating about unruly children vs. the real brutality the young woman endured are two very different issues. Teaching our kids manners and instilling moral values is something we should all practice on a daily basis it is our duty and responsibility. Condoning the callous treatment and imprisonment of our children over petty offenses that would be otherwise treated with a slap on the wrist if their skin color was different, is another issue.
We must first arm ourselves with the knowledge and awareness of the matters involving our children. Ask yourself questions like: what are the consequences involved with cell phone use at their school? What hours do police cruisers peruse my neighborhood? Who are my children hanging out with? Where are they hanging out and to what time are they expected to be there? Your answer to these questions should prompt you to have dialogue with your children about appropriate behavior at all times, and overall prevention of run-ins with the police. However, you cannot prevent an encounter between a cop and your child from ever happening—this is when you coach your child to peaceably assert their rights.
“Education is that whole system of human training within and without the school house walls, which molds and develops men” –W.E.B. Du Bois
It’s frightening, because your daughter could end up like the young woman who was slung around by her braids by a male cop while wearing a swimsuit, in front of dozens of other kids who were being forcibly held at gunpoint, or your son can be ambushed and immediately gunned down because of suspicion of a fake weapon, or massacred in the street and left to stink for hours while the cop responsible becomes a millionaire from equally racist and disgraceful supporters. The cost of not educating and preparing them to be socially conscious could even result in them driving along to an interview and being unlawfully assaulted and later killed in police custody. Either way it goes, it seems that it is open season against our children. Yet, we have the audacity to pick and choose which officers and situations we will justify.
“The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous”—Frederick Douglass
We must make social justice a priority in our lives and the lives of our children. We cannot stand by and put their mortality in the hands of a corrupt justice system and vile individuals who threaten their very existence. To make this happen we have to take a stand for what we believe in and encourage our young people to do the same.
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person”—Mother Theresa
Photo and Video Credits: Sarah-Ji, thewashingtonpost.com, shutterstock.com, nbcnews.com, nytimes.com, dailykos.com, nydailynews.com, peacealliance.org