We speak of poverty which is devastating, it brings hunger, homelessness, ill health and an inability to focus in the classroom, but we have not spoken about the violence and the threat of violence which pervades the lives of so many children.
As advocates for public education, we write about poverty and the destructive impact it has on children but what we never mention is that the poverty is derived from deep-seated racism that has been with us since the inception of this country.
This racism is reflected in the lack of opportunities for minorities in terms of acquiring a well-rounded education and jobs, and the high percentage of incarceration of black men including black males beginning at the age of 12 years old.
I have seen racism as a child and even though many who I associate with now and the communities I circulate through, do not reflect such ignorance, it is there for all to see online and in the news.
Last week I saw another side of the impact of racism and that was through the eyes of two children who went through a trauma that most of us will never know or truly understand, that of losing a loved one, for one, the death of a father by way of unchecked violence, and the other, a child, watching a police officer shoot and kill someone their mother loved right in front of their eyes.
How will that child regain a sense of normalcy again? How will they fair in school and in life after such an experience?
In the instance of Philando Castile, there were many children affected by this horrific display of state sanctioned violence, the children who Mr. Castile served lunch to every day at a Montessori school. This has touched people far beyond the closed circle of black victims and their families affected by racial violence.
How does it affect those children who knew this man?
How does it affect black children in classrooms around the country knowing that they are not safe, no matter where they are or what they do?
This is yet another factor ignored by the corporate privatizers who once again victimize black children with no-excuse charter schools promoting “grit” and populated with uncertified Teach for America, Inc. recruits or anyone else these for-profit schools can find as cheap labor to “educate” black children?
And, where does the effect of the violence, emotional and physical, fit into the stats and data collected in bulk by Bill Gates and the state?
We are a violent nation, meting out death and destruction to ourselves and others. I don’t know the answers to all the problems but the one thing I know is that we can help our children, all of our children, support them and protect them so they can thrive and grow, any way that we are able, to assist as individuals and communities.
God help us.