When Barack Obama was president of the United States I never really understood why he said he cared about our country because of the children. Now I understand, this week I have had the opportunity to sit in two different classrooms and observe students. Our kids are why the Black Lives Matter movement must be a success and not just because of black children, but white children. It is unfair to push the work of healing from systematic and institutional racism on them.
I heard sophomore students express why Black Lives Matter. They talked about their value and the need to feel affirmed and valued by their community. I listen as a teenage boy kept talking about as a black man, and I thought please you are a teenager you’re not a man yet, but I realized police would not look at him as boy they would treat as a man. Our justice system if was involved in a crime would treat him as a man, they wouldn’t see him as a child (teenager) like I do his family does I am sure and his teachers. It’s seems unfair that because of the color of his skin, he will automatically be judged as a man. The students explained how silence paralyzes. I thought that is so true regardless of the narrative. Some students expressed that yes sometimes we know things are wrong, but we just don’t want to get involved for whatever reason. I thought about that, then I thought about Martin Niemoller quotation.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Silence does seem easy and comfortable, but the results are devastating. I have heard comments about the property damage following protest caused by agitators, and it appears we as a society are valuing property more than human life. Property is replaceable, humans are not. We must recognize the human need for value and affirmation. People regardless of ethnicity, gender or religious beliefs desire to feel valued.
As I sat in a classroom with 5 little black boys, I thought they are why Black Lives Matter. Unfortunately, the school building and surrounding environment did not affirm that Black Lives Matter. The building looks like it probably did over 30 years ago when I would have been a grade school student. Surrounding the school there were no school zone signs, drivers sped down the street and rolled through stop signs.
Children are our future, children need to matter I won’t even talk about the lack of adult presence. Many adults were invited to participate in the safety class, but they were too busy I guess. Reflect back on Niemoller’s quotation, do we really want our children to feel there was no there to speak for me?