Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Calm Down, Nobody Put Shackles on Him...

No, Lady. You're son is most definitely not a slave. He's a 7 year old who temporarily fell prey to some peer pressure.

But this is some good old silliness masked by the blinding love of motherhood and a teacher with failed clasroom technique. I’ve been around 7 year olds. Most of them aren’t quite this articulate, but I have met some smart cookies. So assuming this gifted student is insightful and savvy, his analogy is still a little off, seeing as the teacher is also black. It’s more like how adults can abuse and say whatever they want to little kids, because “I’m big . You’re small.” in the words of Roald Dahl. Then again, the teacher also used the wrong word. Follower doesn’t exactly equate to slave. Eh, children learn from what they see.

I'm neither a child psychologist, nor a PhD in Educational Theory, but the parent's response to this leaves me a little worried for our education system on the discipline front. “It does nothing to negate the fact that she demeaned my son in front of his peers,” Did we miss the point where your son hit another kid? Perhaps this wasn’t the best way and John Dewey would suggest something different, but regardless of the fact that you send your child to be educated, there has to be some form of discipline if only to manage the classroom. In the perfect educational setting classroom management would come before discipline.

The classroom to prison pipeline is real, and if our governments make policy and build prisons based on numbers of black boys passing the 2nd and 3rd grades, then it is not that unrealistic for educators to want to protect against this very theory. Your son isn't going to jail. He's gifted. We got that. But I'm not too mad at the teacher. She thought she was helping.

All of that aside,this article really led me to a place where I thought about American memory (suprise!) and how it influences us to think about our past and where we are going. In his retelling of the story to his mother, our articulate , bright, and clean 7 year old boy starts out with this, "I’m not a slave, I’m a human being and I deserve to be respected like one. She might as well have just called me a nigger..."

Society needs to address the idea of humanity and slavery. Slavery in its American carnation is the most brutal I can think of in world slaveries. The United States constitution also deemed American slaves as 3/5ths of a person. Slaves were treated like cattle,-branded, and even forced to “mate” with each other under selective breeding matches that masters would make. Even with all of that, in 21st century discussion we must not continue to dehumanize the group that built this countries. Slaves were human beings. They were denied their inalienable rights, but still had blood, a heart beat, emotions, and a cognitive ability you don’t find among lesser mammals. I am not a slave, but all slaves were humans. Don’t ever forget that.