A year ago St Louis, and most of the nation, was up in arms because of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. And rightfully so.
Regardless of our thoughts on what happened that night, there is a racial divide in St Louis, and in America, that cannot be tolerated.
This NY Magazine article “White Kids Get Medicated When They Misbehave, Black Kids Get Suspended – or Arrested” is one of many that share stories and statistics that point to the same devastating inequalities: Black kids get harsh consequences. White kids get second chances.
These inequalities place me and our white foster kids on the side of privilege.
Our experience in a St Louis city public school matched that tune.
Nick, our five-year-old, was the terror of his kindergarten class. He earned us a parent-teacher-and-two-
Text messages from his teacher reported that he hit other students and ate library books. Sometimes video clips were included, showing the class sitting for reading time as he climbed on desks in the background.
Being called to the principal’s office is never fun, but the tone couldn’t have been kinder. We were a team trying to brainstorm creative ways to help this hurting fella calm down.
And together we found it. The perfect solution.
Sweet, but often destructive, Nick had a crush on the second grade teacher, Mrs. W.
He fought homework but penned her notes. He acted shy toward adults, but showed her his muscles every chance he got.
And so we agreed good behavior earned time with Mrs. W. during recess or lunch.
With that newfound motivation, Nick turned a corner.
He got a second chance, I recognize, that is rarely afforded. To any child, but especially to black children.
According to these statistics, another child of another color at a similar school would have been suspended.
I can’t fix that. But I can see it and name it. And stand against it.