Failure to Connect or And You Wonder Why They Don’t Like You….

This post has been weighing on me for at least a week now.  As I’ve gotten angrier and angrier, I blamed myself – I should have NEVER engaged in a Facebook post, it’s only what I deserved.  The post, from a former coworker, insinuated that the #BlackLiveMatters movement was created on the basis of hate and that it will cause for America to be lawless, because in essence it was THOSE men’s fault that they were killed and we’re wrong for defending the bias and racism that initiated the initial action and subsequent reaction.  I shared my feelings on the reality behind the movement, the fact that NOTHING those men did warranted the death penalty without judge and jury, and how black lives have not been valued for as long as we have been in this country. Slavery, Jim Crow, the influx of crack into black neighborhoods, anyone?

The response?  “As long as everyone stays calm and respectful, there shouldn’t be any problems”.  And I call straight up bull on that!  How long has this been the preference – the quiet negro….the mild negro…..the “go along to get along” negro….?  But what happens when enough is enough?

Meek Negro

Once the “Negro/Black Man/Person of Color” has had enough and initiates a movement, they are considered disrespectful, hate filled, dangerous.  Whatever happens – they “had it coming to them”, right? A comment on that particular post said this:

The whole reason the police were called is because a homeless man was asking Alton Sterling for money and he couldn’t give it to him.  Instead, he flashed his illegal gun.  So the homeless man had the cops called.  I bet now he wishes he had been a literal more generous with his CD money, or at the very least, been cooperative with the police.

Wait, what?  Alton Sterling didn’t want to give a homeless person money and he deserved the DEATH SENTENCE?? Seriously…..

In a state of denial, I asked a friend to look at the post.  I had to ask, was it just me?  Am I wrong in my thinking? Her response:

Well I’ll be!  And I’m not so ignorant to believe that everyone will understand our plight, but to be an educator and to have this mindset, let alone publicize it, parallels perfectly with her inability to have never been able to build a relationship with her students of color.

I immediately thought of this quote by the incomparable Rita Pierson from her 2013 TedTalk, “Every Kid Needs a Champion”.

Rita Pierson

If you refuse to understand your kids….if you refuse to empathize with them…make connections with them, what are you doing?  Why are you even here? Being an effective educator, no matter the race, color, or creed, depends on not only having a mastery of the subject matter but mastery of what it takes to build positive relationships. And as long as we make no effort to do better….be better – we are a part of the long suffering and corruptive system that all those years ago as pre-service teachers we passionately said we wanted to change. If you are going to do the work in those places, it is imperative that you understand the plight of children of color….children of poverty.  And not only understand it, but digest it, use it, believe in it to make this world a better place for us all.  Or, as a 50+ year sorority sister member said to us (in something totally related)….”Get the HELL out!”

Until the next time,






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  1. Good morning Carla,
    I really want to understand this but don’t…

    Are you aware that whites are being shot at a higher rate by police than blacks?

    Are you aware how many more blacks are killed by other blacks than the tiny number killed by police?

    Then BLM comes in and acts like this is some grand conspiracy to kill off black males?

    It’s the selective outrage that many of us scratch our heads at. And yes, we do see that BLM openly calls for violence against police and we also all see that respect for authority and law enforcement is NOT taught equally in all cultures.

    Do you honestly believe this is exclusively a police problem? Convincing people they are helpless victims in all this makes no sense. Of course, there are many things any young man (that’s the real demographic involved in violence – not a race) can do to reduce their risk for a negative situation with police.

    There are plenty of solutions to all this and it really starts at home with a family that loves these kids and educating them about the way the world works and as teachers we BOTH know this isn’t always happening.

    • I thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am not looking at just the numbers of whites being shot vs. blacks. I am looking at the reasons behind the use deadly force when none is needed. Those that act radically do not represent the #BlackLivesMovement. Just as all police officers are not racists – intent on murdering every black person they encounter.

      Just FYI:
      There is an assumption that there is an invisible “only” in front of the words “Black Lives Matter”.

      Reality: There’s not. There is a difference between focus and exclusion.

      But there ARE some implicit words that precede “Black Lives Matter”…but it’s more like….
      Because of the brutalizing and killing of black people at the hands of the police and the indifference of society in general and the criminal justice system in particular, it is import that we say that….
      Black Lives Matter

      I can see where it would be difficult for you to understand, because you have never been in our shoes. My law abiding and tax paying husband, brother, father, cousins, and friends have all been the victim of racial profiling. I grew up in a two parent middle class household with parents who were college educated and yet, I have been followed around a clothing store because the clerk assumed that I might shoplift….or because I am professionally dressed it is assumed that I MUST work there.

      But the fact that you have difficulty understanding is not the problem. It is difficult to understand things that you have never experienced. The fact that you are not even attempting to understand is the problem. The fact that you refuse to believe that we are all biased and sometimes refuse to acknowledge those biases is the problem. The fact that you believe that we DON’T tell our children to respect authority or talk to them about what to do when pulled over is the problem. The fact that you naively believe that police officers don’t racially profile is the problem. The fact that Philandro Castille, Oscar Grant, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Sean Bell, and so many others…..were tragic murders but of course it was their fault because they had to have been doing something wrong is the problem. Take some time and research the story of Patrick Mumford and tell me there isn’t a problem.

      There ARE plenty of solutions to this problem, and it really starts with YOU – acknowledging your bias and your misinformation of the plight of people of color. Because we BOTH know that isn’t happening as well.

  2. I’m sorry that the first comment on this thoughtful, emotional post is one demanding further patient, thoughtful explanation from you.

    (a native accomplice)

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