I’ve learned that children learn in many ways. Their main instructors are the parents, who will help them to form their own personal worldview. This worldview is then enforced or dispelled at school. Usually, children will accept whatever they are taught at home as “fact” until they enter middle school, where they then hear other views from different children.
They begin to question what they have been taught at home and either agree with the parents or follow the crowd. What an awesome responsibility for parents. By the time they reach high school, they either have accepted what the parents and teachers have taught them or rebel, but they know what the rules/laws are and that they are expected to obey them. They don’t always choose wisely. I believe rules/laws are to be followed, and if I do not agree with them, then I should work to have them changed, but I do not have the right to choose which laws to obey and which ones to ignore.
In a recent letter, a parent referred to his experiences with presumed racism in our public schools. Since I do not have first-hand information on either incident, I cannot comment on their validity. But, I can comment on what the children may have learned from their experiences.
The high school boy knew he was wrong to put toy paper caps in his book-bag and that their purpose was to explode and sound like a real gun, which is why they are referred to as explosives. He wanted to show them to others. What did the boy learn? Did he learn not to purchase such items, to be more careful about what he takes to school, that his father will defend him even when he is wrong, that you can’t trust authority, or more specifically, white authority, or that he can’t trust a white boy to be his friend, or that skin color matters?
What did the white boy learn? Did he learn that he can’t trust a black boy to be his friend or trust adults, or authority, or that skin color matters? Not knowing the details, we cannot speculate what he may have learned, but one thing is sure. He learned that the parent of the black boy was prejudiced.
Which of these people involved in this case showed racism, which is a two-way street? Was it the vice principle who followed the guidelines of the board of education for suspending the child or the parent who called “foul” because both boys weren’t suspended? Sometimes suspension is the only way to teach a lesson if there is an effort to change the attitude of the child, but many discipline cases can be resolved without suspension, depending on the academic and discipline backgrounds of the children.
This may have been the first time either boy had gotten into trouble, but if either boy had a record of “getting into trouble,” then suspension might be the only solution. When we don’t know the whole story, we can’t draw any accurate conclusions.
If a parent feels his/her child has not been treated fairly, he/she should intervene, but also exercise good judgment so that the situation does not “explode” into something worse. In over 100 years, the NAACP has done nothing to eradicate racism. If anything, they have encouraged it by ignoring their own prejudice and hatred. However, since racism and prejudice are taught at home, and sometimes affirmed at school, the next time you want to yell “racism,” take a breath and look in the mirror.