Clinton Stanley Sr. couldn’t understand. “You deny a kid an education on his hair?” This was Clinton Stanley Sr.’s response when his 6-year-old son was turned away from a Christian school in Florida because of his natural hair. Then, in Gretna, Louisiana, a young Black girl was suspended because of her hair extensions. https://twitter.com/shaunking/status/1031823052554858496 And the most ridiculous case of them all, Valentino Jimenez, a senior at Apache Junction High School in Arizona, was arrested for not removing his bandana. As if suspending Black students for small, stupid disciplinary actions wasn’t enough, now they’re being reprimanded and punished for their appearance. WTF is going on here??? That was a rhetorical question—we already know. Black kids represent 15 percent of public school student body but account for 31 percent of arrests. Black preschoolers are 2.2 times more likely to be suspended than their White peers. I mean damn, what did the kids do to be kicked out of school??? Black students are four times more likely to be suspended than White students. And they’re twice as likely to be expelled. Racially biased policies and educators who refuse to acknowledge their implicit bias are contributing to higher suspension rates. Suspensions and expulsions lead to more and more dropouts. And at least 60 percent of those dropouts will end up in prison at some point in their lives—something we all know as the school-to-prison pipeline. Look, why waste time? Instead of sending these kids to kindergarten, just go ahead and send them right to prison. Save money “fake educating” them and make money off the free labor you’ll get imprisoning them.
Hope: They Just Need a Little Tenderness
This Facebook post from my friend ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson is the truth. https://www.facebook.com/sharhonda.dawson/posts/10160670078050174 Malcolm X was labeled a thug, misfit and criminal. Then he was later known as a leader and educator. https://www.facebook.com/BetterConversationBetterEducation/videos/812146425650721/ That reminded me of people like Ivry Hall and Jose Barron. And this all reminded me that we shouldn’t judge or count people out based on their pasts. Two common themes in each of these stories were education and mentorship. They literally change and save lives. That’s why I’m grateful for people like Marvin Pierre whose organization, 8 Million Stories, is committed to creating pathways to success through education, enrichment and job training for youth with turbulent pasts. Sharif El-Mekki, who’s an educator, pillar in his community and is actively involved The Fellowship—a network of Black male educators that’s all about social justice and leading the advocacy charge for an investment in more male educators of color. Then there are young people like Mendell Grinter and Tamir Harper who encourage youth to be advocates through their organizations, Campaign for School Equity and UrbEd. Black male educators like Devin Evans and Nehemiah Frank are committed to transforming education for their students. And programs like BAM (Becoming a Man) in Chicago are helping young men do just that. As ShaRhonda said: Speak life into our youth. Speak power into our youth. Speak love into our youth. Don't give up on our young people. And I would add—invest in our youth. Shout out to these men and organizations for leading the charge.
Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work—“If not me, then who?” As the former Deputy Director of Activist Development for brightbeam, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for change in the public education system. Her passion for community and relentless mission for justice and liberation drive her in uplifting and amplifying the voices and ...