A message for the brown kids

first_imgQ WidemanWW photo: Brenda RyanThis is for the brown kids.This is for the free and reduced breakfast club.This is for my loudmouth fistfighters.My under-the-covers-reading all-nighters.My late-shift-working in-class nappers.My back-of-the-classroom rappers.My mother-tongue-speaking back-talkers.My always-finding-death-threats in their lockers.My always-late-to-class little sibling caretakers.My smartass saggy-pants troublemakers.My brown genderqueer hip-switchers.My test-anxiety-prone class-skippers.My outside-agitator walkout organizers.This is for my never-meant-to survivors.In kindergarten, I already knew not to go anywhere unless I was sure there wouldn’t be a check-in.I was always too chicken to speak to the men with guns on their hips.And slurs in their snarling lips and I didn’t even goto a school where they met me at the door.So I’m gonna try to compute just how much more afraid I’d be today if thefirst school club I was introduced towas a billy club.I’ll try to raise the number of panic attacks I’ve had this year to the power ofpepper spray, taser, glocks, handcuffs and a badge.I’ll try to multiply my fear by the number of kids who look like me who had their faces slammed into pavement last semester.And I know I haven’t been good at math since I was told I was a poor tester.But something about the trauma of going to school under occupation seemsto add up to walking outwith less capacity to trustthan we walked in with.To fear and resistance to authority.To hyperactivity and needing to get free.Critical Thinking Question: Why were the millions of dollars Wake County [N.C.] spent on police station contracts and security guards somehow easier to budget than even half the recommended number of counselors?Answer: Because our minds are worth more to them terrified than understood.See, our schools might look like prisons, but the bars aren’t for keeping us in; they’re for pushing us out.Our schools are factories producing marketable products,not making good citizens, but punishing manufactured misconduct.There are more of my people incarcerated today than there were slaves in 1850 and black students in Wake County account for 60% of suspensions because their definition of defiance is “looking kinda shifty.”Schools claim to be invested in teaching critical thinking but from us brown kids, asking questions equals dissension which leads to detention, suspension, and apprehension by state henchmen with the intention to arrest.So ask us again why we don’t feel like participating in class discussion.We dare you.Ask us why we’d rather spend 90 minutes in a bathroom stall or wandering empty halls than in your classrooms.We know that when we ask questionswe scare you.You thought you were ready for us.You’d already bought us jumpsuitsinstead of graduation gowns.You’d even opened up a whole new prisonby shutting some arts programs down.You thought you were ready for us.Us brown kids?We’re ready for you, tooWe are:Healing our black eyes inpeer mediation sessionsChanneling Laila Ali inSecond Round Boxing lessonsWe are:Staying up all night readingMichelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow,comprehending all kinds of things we werenever supposed to know.We are:Working the late shift paying billsto stay alive,even though we know we were nevermeant to survive.We are:Rapping about restorative justiceand letting our spirits soar,spittin’ about the day when Central Prisonis no more.We are:standing together, from AP Englishto ISS to alternative schools toCentral Prison.We are:teaching you a lesson, and this timeyou’re gonna have to listen to us,the brown kids,the kids from the back of the bus. nFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more