How are New Orleans Students Affected by the Recent Murder Deaths of Black Males at the Hands of Police Officers?
Danielle Sanders is a Behavior Interventionist at Abramson Sci Academy in New Orleans, LA. Responsible for implementing Restorative Practices as a behavioral intervention to support scholars when demonstrating behaviors that are not in line with school culture.
I am almost dreading returning to school right about now. I have been emotionally drained trying to navigate the school system with its dramatic shift in cultural changes since Hurricane Katrina.
So to now have to bear witness to yet another climate change, this one nationwide, has me even more worried, even more anxious.
Our children are already angry.
Our children are already overexposed.
Our children are already doubtful.
Doubtful that their lives matter.
Doubtful that their voices matter.
Doubtful that we believe they can make it to college.
Doubtful that they can even make it in life.
Having had a former student die of violence as recently as Memorial Day, I have found myself praying for my students, especially the male ones, during this summer break.
Freedom from school scares me, and I believe it scares our students, too. School protects children for the most part, or at least it should. So how do we address these injustices with our kids? How do we remind them of the reasons they should be respectful and compliant to others without displaying the fear in our hearts? How do we encourage them to enjoy their youth, but be vigilant? How do we foster their feelings of fear, sadness, and anger, without minimizing and ignoring?
I have so many questions, and I’m worried that answers are beyond most of us.
Despite this, as educators, as role models, as mentors, we all must continue to do the good work. We all must remember that our kids are unique, and this requires our communication styles to be unique. This means that we can’t just focus on curriculum alone, but also on the child.
Focus on the system.
Focus on their exposure.
Focus on the why behind their anger.
Focus on the reality that our kids are afraid.
They feel powerless, and sometimes this fear and powerlessness manifests itself as opposition, a need to control something, a cry to lessen the burden of the weight they carry each day.
So we must be vulnerable and let them know that we are afraid, too. Still, we’re going to work together to ensure they are not only ready for college, but ready for the world.
They are the future and have the power to do the work to ensure that those who follow them feel powerful, listened to, and loved, rather than hated, feared, and unimportant.