As a former educator for 12 years, I applaud the concerned parents, teachers, and community leaders in Charlotte, NC for their efforts in working to get students and those who support them to understand that their success, or lack thereof, is largely a result of personal responsibility and the seriousness with which they take their own education.
The Black Lives Matter Charlotte Initiative should be held up as an example for all those who are involved in the BLM movement that marching in the street, violence and destruction of your community, and a constant blame of ‘racist cops’ does nothing for black lives. Using an accusation of “microaggressions” and” systemic racism” as an excuse for your lack of achievement or own personal woes solves no problem. In both cases, it simply absolves a person from personal responsibility and puts the blame for any negative thing in one’s life on someone else.
In regards to racism being alive and well, I do have one bit of advice for people of all ethnicities everywhere. There will always be racism in this world. There is no such thing as a utopian society on this earth and baseless accusations of racism simply take away from real instances of racism from people, including racism on the part of black people. For example, hurling the accusation that saying ‘All Lives Matter’ is racist is, in and of itself, racist.
There is power in education. There is power in rising up from any adversity that you face and overcoming it. Whether it be in regards to academics or behavior, students need to understand that there is power in the choices that they make.
Reading this reminded me of a young man I taught years ago. He was a 6th grader and black. He was constantly at odds with his white teacher. His fellow classmates, who were also mostly black, would tell me things he would say to his teacher. He often accused her of being a racist just for correcting his behavior or punishing him for his bad behavioral choices.
I talked to this young man and asked him what was going on. He shared with me that she was always getting after him, even if he didn’t do anything. If there was someone talking in the classroom, she assumed, since his behavior was always so problematic, that it was him and told him to stop. He would talk back to her, the situation would escalate and he would then end up in the principal’s office.
I gave him this advice. “When she tells you to be quiet, just say ‘yes, ma’am.’ I don’t care if you weren’t talking. Just say, ‘yes, ma’am.'” I shared with him that if he wanted to pick a fight with his teacher, which according to his friends he often did, she would always win because he’d end up in the principal’s office because of his behavior. Saying “yes ma’am” diffused the situation. Thankfully, the young man listened, heeded my words, and his experience, and the experience of the teacher in that classroom and his classmates, improved greatly.
He learned firsthand that he has the power to make a difference in his own life. For him, it started with his response and his behavioral choices and that made all the difference in the world.
Parents need to model for their children this exact same type of responsibility by having high expectations for their kids and model pro-active behavior when it comes to education.
Being present and involved can change not only the way their child views education but also will help their student feel a true sense of community within their school.
Again, kudos to the Black Lives Matter Charlotte Initiative. Those marching in the streets, blocking major roads and freeways, disrupting public life, and attacking police officers and white people should take note. What these parents, teachers, and community leaders are doing in Charlotte is how you bring about real change.