The countdown is on…13 teaching days until our purpose for educating reaches the pinnacle…AIMS. Budget cuts are looming. 1.3 million dollars in cuts to be exact. And yet, the topic that is keeping me up at night has to do with an incident that occurred on February 26th with a 17 year old boy.
Ahh, perhaps it’s just me, but when a minority student is killed, I stop and take notice. I realize that with each passing day we learn more about the boy who was killed–choices he made, items contained in his backpack, and school consequences. And yet, the one thing that remains consistent is Trayvon Martin was walking down the street with an iced tea and a bag of skittles, and now he is dead. This tragedy is explored by Charles Blow from the New York Times in his Op-Ed column: The Curious Case of Trayvon Martin.
Mr. Blow speaks about the burden of black boys in America. The words he spoke as a father shook my soul:
“As the father of two black teenage boys, this case hits close to home. This is the fear that seizes me whenever my boys are out in the world: that a man with a gun and an itchy finger will find them “suspicious.” That passions may run hot and blood run cold. That it might all end with a hole in their chest and hole in my heart. That the law might prove insufficient to salve my loss.”
Suspicious. If Trayvon Martin had never been deemed “suspicious” he would never have been followed. If he had never been followed, he would still be alive today.
How do we protect the students in our classrooms from being suspicious? Which positive behaviors do I cultivate? Which character traits do I reinforce? What new uniform policies do I enforce? How do I teach my students that walking down the street with an iced tea and a bag of skittles is suspicious for 85% of them, but not the other 15%?