In the 6th grade, I went to a middle school in a college district In Indiana with about 3 black kids in the school. I had a teacher that convinced the groups to kick me out. She made me sit under the table. I never told my parents that part because I was ashamed. I felt stupid.
The teacher scheduled multiple meetings with my parents because she was convinced I was ESE and needed to go back a grade. I went from being on the honor roll in Jamaica all the time to having Ds and Fs. She wielded her power, degrees, and status to say I was incapable of learning the material.
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Fortunately, my father was a college professor so he could hold his own. He had to fight with the school for them to leave me alone so I could learn.
Honestly, I wasn’t raised to look out for racism because we previously lived in the country area of Jamaica… so I didn’t understand. So, I left Indiana for the first time in my life feeling dumb and incapable. I moved to West Palm Beach, FL and it was then I regained my confidence because of some dedicated teachers (white & black teachers).
My point? I’m privileged to have had my parents to fight for me. I’m privileged to have had my father stand up to racism so I didn’t have to fight. I’m privileged to have the opportunity to move so that I could be fairly treated and educated.
I imagine what life would be if no one could fight for me. If I had to fight and pull up my bootstraps at 12 years old.
Once again, children that “make” it didn’t do it alone. It was GENERATIONS of sacrifices by their community/family to give their children a better shot at life.
So many of the children I have taught are told they are incapable by their teachers. Or, that they will end up in jail anyways. These children may not seem to be making progress but they are doing 10% better than their prior generation — that should be congratulated.
I think of how hard it is for most to lose weight, even if they really want it. Imagine a 12 year old trying to rid themselves of the weight of unfair situations in society (structural violence).
Only light can penetrate ones with no family and support… So they too can achieve something more from life.
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