Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Why Spring Valley Has Everything to Do With You

If you are an educator, or anyone who has worked with children with emotional difficulties (everyone raise your hand), when you first learned of the young lady who was HULKED by the police officer in Spring Valley,SC, I would imagine your first response was, "The young lady must be going through something." 
In the days that passed, and all the special guests on news stations, and officials who were able to share their perspective, none of them were clinicians or educators. I found that peculiar, considering that this happened in school. 
When I first heard the story, I wondered had she been properly assessed. Especially considering the fact that she was new to the school district and had been displaying behavioral concerns prior to this event. And most teachers who manage classrooms, know that when you have one child and the rest of your class on your side, you take your team and exclude the other child until you have time to deal with them. As long as they serve as no danger to the other students, continue with your lesson plans. This teacher did not do that. 
This point of this is not to attack the teacher. What's done is done. 
What I am going to attack is this narrative that the young lady deserved what she got. It has been determined that her mother had just passed, so she was grieving, she was new to the district, and was an orphan. We can all agree that if any of those unfortunate events happened to us, you have your excuse for acting out of the ordinary. 
Those who opined that the police officer's actions were warranted, are most often the same individuals who express concern and protest when we condemn the fact that the majority of the prison population are Blacks. We decry the actions of police officers when an unarmed, mentally disturbed Black man or woman is killed in police custody (cough Natasha McKenna #sayhername), but don't bat an eye when our children step out of line, or are caught "sassin". But here was a situation where we saw just how the multitude of Blacks end up in jail and all we could say, "She shouldn't have had her phone out."
My message here is that, instead of being quick to punish our youth, defer to the law enforcement to deal with them, prior to us having a hand in it, we need to pursue our own quality control. This includes all teachers, and other professionals. I will not divulge how each stakeholder can play a role in this (that's another blog post), but what I will say is that it is everyones responsibility. This young woman has no parents, you cannot say, "My parents told me to respect authority!" So we have to be her parents. And her represents all the other youth in our urban cities who are acting out because they're forced to be adults before they were children, battling poverty, or were ill-guided and led to a life of crime. 
It requires hard work, it requires EVERYONE to be involved. The moment you begin to look at your current status in life as no longer for your personal asset, but as a critical piece in ameliorating the ailments that contribute to this unjust society, is when you start to live for others and not yourself and we can work towards giving our children more of what we had and what they are being deprived of. 

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