A disturbing video surfaced today that shows a School Safety Officer toss a black student from her desk and then drag her out of camera view. Look, I don’t know what happened prior to when the video begins and frankly I don’t care. As a parent, if this was my child being treated like this, I would drag that officer far away and turn that violence around on him. I can’t fathom myself having any other reaction. Maybe I don’t need to try and fathom the incident happening to my white family. I’m struggling to come up with anything this particular student could have done or said to deserve this sort of treatment. I was quite vocal and disruptive as a student and only a few occasions was I reprimanded. I’m not going to debate anyone about police brutality or the fact that blue lives matter and so forth. I appreciate the service law enforcement provide for our communities. But, there is a discourse in all of White America that is missing when events like this happen.
Instead, what I will do as a point of departure, is leave this data here for you to opine:
- Black girls are six times more likely to get suspended than their white counterparts.
- Nationally, 12% of black girls receive at least one suspension. The rate for white girls is 2%.
- Black boys are three times more likely to get suspended than their white counterparts
- On a national level, 20% of black boys are suspended. 6% of white boys are suspended.
Source: Washington Post
I’ve heard two responses throughout the day (yes, I’m sure there have been many more, but the following two are what I heard and interacted with immediately after the video surfaced). I will outline the responses and then address them.
- “What if that was your daughter?”
- There is no “what-if.” That is your daughter. She is my daughter. As a society, we are collectively responsible for the well-being of our children. End of story.
- “Well, what that girl should have done is just obeyed his order and listened to whatever he was saying and none of this would have happened.”
- Remember, we are talking about a girl. A child. Circling back to my original notion – it doesn’t matter what this girl did – nothing she could have said warrants the reaction of the officer and the subsequent treatment she endured. And be honest, most of you wouldn’t have “just listened.” As kids, white, black, or brown, by nature we don’t “just listen” and “keep quiet.”
On a larger scale, let’s do everyone in this great country a favor and acknowledge there are bad apples in our police forces. That doesn’t mean all cops are bad. They provide vital and much-needed services for our communities and nation. But, let’s move the needle of progress onward – it’s time we take serious and swift action to get habitual criminal offenders out from behind the badge. Specifically to this incident, keep in mind this is a school safety officer – typically, their main objective is to keep children safe. Caring for the well-being of an officer isn’t mutually exclusive from having concern for the treatment of a fellow citizen. You can, and should, have a great deal of respect for law enforcement while holding them to the highest standard of care.