What if one day my brothers are walking down the street and the police try to beat them or even kill [them]?
That is a question posed by Gateway Middle School student Ajanae in St. Louis. Teachers at the school gave kids a chance to talk about their feelings about the killing of Michael Brown and subsequent events.
In a school that is 83% African-American and so close to the situation, teachers thought it was important to address the issue on the first day of school. So the kids wrote what they felt and it is infuriating:
Torre: I think that since Michael Brown was tall and dark-skinned that [the officer thought he] was doing something wrong.
Ale’ya: People have been treating us blacks wrong for so many years and we have done NOTHING WRONG. White man kills black guy, paid to leave. Black man kills white guy, PRISON FOR LIFE NO BAIL.
It both angers and saddens me that these children already know that segments of society view them with fear and loathing. That they already recognize that the justice system works against them. That they are afraid of the people who are supposed to protect them.
My nine year old was watching the news the other day and asked,”Mom, why do they keep killing black kids?” How was I supposed to respond to that? He’s nine and already knows that kids are being killed because of the color of their skin.
It takes a village to raise kids, right? Well, our village is failing.
These children are afraid to walk down the road because they think they will be shot or hurt by the police. The police are supposed to be their protectors but instead they’re the ones to fear the most. These children think that they are different because adults in this country still don’t have their shit together. Middle school kids should not have to worry that one person’s racism might kill them or someone they love. That is not okay.
That’s our biggest failing as a nation as far as I’m concerned.