On Racial Disparity and an Unwillingness to Look Racism in the Eye.

In reviewing this tragic incident at Chaska high school this morning, I couldn’t help but feel some direct takeaways from the thread that follows this article. Clearly there is commentary that speaks to many sides of the issue, but the glaring reality for me is the ease we have with using blame and judgment to help us feel better about a situation that causes a certain anxiety in our lives.

With social media we are christened with an arm-chair response mentality, that we have seen can be as equally damning as the central idea of a topic. In this case a direct assessment of racial disparity in a public high school.

In the same article that speaks to the victims of the incident being asked to walk into a room and receive forced apologies from the students that created the mess, there is also reporting that suggests the administration sat on their hands about the incident at a timely Equity conference with parents and members of the community.

See this is the part I have a real hard time with. We cannot continue to hide ourselves behind the idea of racism when the reality of its impact occurs every day in our lives. We cannot simply hope incidents like this will go away without being dealt with directly. We cannot miss opportunities to open doors to this challenge of understanding how such moments interfere with our students of color and their desire to engage themselves in a community that openly ostracizes them, only to have the instigators receive perhaps public slaps on the hand for doing something they thought was ‘funny’ and harmless.

We cannot pretend that there is no harm that occurs beyond the incident of blatant racism itself. There is a great deal of damage that occurs when something of this level happens in any community. The traumatic nature of not being liked, or respected or appreciated for who we are cannot be measured in the eyes of a staged public apology. There has to be more.

Our students need to feel like they are being heard, their issues matter, they take the front seat and receive time and attention rather than a quiet dismissal to prevent a public outcry.

In reading the threads on Facebook that follow this article, I came across a number of personal assessments of the environment – “Oh (community) will never learn” or “same old ‘trash-**’ summarily beating the issue into the ground in such a manner to put it away, blow it off, call it unimportant, and try to put a ‘funny’ light on the issue. In fact, one thread noted, ‘this happened a week ago’ in a manner to suggest we move on. Really?

It is a sad reality that our students could continue to have such behaviors be condoned by society because of an internalized fear to have the difficult discussions. We cannot allow these moments to drift away because we are almost at the end of the school year. We cannot continue to rely upon our political horizon as the reason for such attitude and disparity in our communities across the country.

We must have the conversations and listen rather than simply join the outcry of ‘oh this is bad, but I have no commitment to helping change.’

We need to try to openly become a part of the change and move forward rather than continue to drift aimlessly backward.

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Life Today – A Sonnet

When long in mind I rather call your name

please tell me then you knew me well ahead.

Today I might recognize well the game

that fortune of hindsight you kept instead.

If when I speak the world is newer heard,

than as a child when words remained in sand

is it well today we scrutinize word?

Speak love with our hearts that we cannot stand.

When as a child I spoke alone, my fears.

Social imagery’s designed neighborhood

Is life’s circuitry; media drives tears …

Acceptance slows again that which I could.

We this planet of known impacts and eyes

Need well to live the wisdom in our I’s.

Social Media Construct

Used to carry a pencil

Then a pen

A pager; then a brick that dialed numbers.

A typewriter

That suddenly had a scrolling banner

~

One day while sitting in a café

With a notepad and my pencil

I kept looking your way

Wondering if you might …

~

Today, there is little romance in our eyes

We believe what words we send to one another

With perhaps an added feature

Snapchat, IOS, Tumblr, Twitter

Imagine how granny or gramps might react

When we tell everyone our communication

Has come down to counting on a Twit

To let us know how to live through the hour?

I have no Pinterest in recognizing this mania

Bring me back the old parchment

The messy ink that made things real

Rather think about it

Then come to realize

My share is a permanent

Statement that all eyes may interpret howsoever

The world around me desires.

~

One day while sitting in a café

My coffee spilled

And the words blended with the paper

Losing their impact

Yet I knew their meaning

Now lost in memory

Forever preserved

In a quiet moment

While the bells of a romantic notion

Played rhythms in my mind

As eyes shared time

Smiles followed

Our love became intertwined by this sunny afternoon

And a delicious energy of unbridled passion

We found our lives together across the room