It Was Never Just: On Student Activism and Racism (A Reader)

It was never just Ferguson, and it is not just the University of Missouri or Yale.

Social inequity/racism and institutional racism are nearly impossible to ignore, although many still try to deflect repeated acts of violence toward blacks by police officers—in the streets and schools’ hallways—as well as the patterns of racist aggressions in the workplace and on college campuses by pointing their fingers at “bad” individuals.

White denial may be at a tipping point in the U.S. since student activism on college campuses appears to be resurfacing in ways associated with the Civil Rights era of the mid-twentieth century.

While demanding that the oppressed and wronged take the lead is problematic—it is of course the moral obligation of those with power to do the right thing—black college students and athletes taking stands against racism and inequity, stands for social justice deserve support and praise, but they deserve even more to be heard and then for all of us to act.

Here, I offer a reader related to student activism and racism spurred by the University of Missouri’s and Yale’s recent controversies:

MU students tell their stories of everyday racism

The Vilification of Student Activists at Yale, Gillian B. White

3 Lessons From University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe’s Resignation, David Zirin

The Missouri Tigers and the Hidden History of Black College Football Activists, David Zirin

READ: Two Personal Statements That Help Explain The Situation At Mizzou (NPR)

Players Strike Back: Howard’s 11 Goes on Strike, Louise Moore

The University of Missouri students who forced their president to resign

Young Black People See the News Media’s Double StandardCatherine R. Squires

A History of Racism at the University of Missouri, Brent Staples

Does Missouri president ouster offer lessons to universities grappling with a racist past?, A.D. Carson

[Clemson’s Tillman Hall and the Tragedy of Southern Tradition]

Perspective on Mizzou, David Ubben

Alleged racism at Yale, University of Missouri: Are colleges taking it seriously?

A Few Good Reads On The Missouri Protesters And Journalistic Outrage, Tasneem Raja

Student Activism Is Serious Business, Roxane Gay

I’m a black Yale grad, and its racial firestorm doesn’t surprise me: Now it’s time for the administration to act, Courtney McKinney

Our Republic Will Withstand College Students Protesting, John Warner

Three Cheers for Student Protests, John Warner

Students Share What It’s Like To Be Black At Mizzou

At Missouri, ‘right now, we are facing the backlash,’ Cristina Mislán

Missouri activists vs. the press is still a story about race: This is what happens when black students can’t trust the media, Paul Young Lee

Enter the Real Power of College Sports, Thabiti Lewis

4 Things You Might Have Wrong about the Mizzou Story, Ryan Famuliner

Fantasy Sports USA: “Road to hell paved with unbought stuffed dogs”

“Mean everything in the world to you after you bought it. Simple exchange of values. You give them money. They give you a stuffed dog.” [Bill Gorton]

“We’ll get one on the way back.” [Jake Barnes]

“All right. Have it your own way. Road to hell paved with unbought stuffed dogs. Not my fault.”

The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

Talking with a senior English major who is certifying to teach high school ELA, I recently reached for my teaching copy of The Sun Also Rises, talking far too excitedly as I usually do when I reminisce about my wonderful high school students from 18 years of teaching in my hometown high school.

I had placed several notes and clippings in the novel, decorated with a number of highlighter colors and marginalia for teaching. One folded piece of notebook paper was a sketch by a student of the key line quoted above about the road to hell; an old Gary Larson Far Side calendar page had a stick-drawing of the novel as well.

I was a Hemingway advocate when teaching U.S. literature, but my students were overwhelmingly Fitzgerald. Yet, in the end, many of my students were just all in with whatever I asked them to do. We loved each other, and we often really just enjoyed having class. I am idealizing some, yes, but those were golden days that I treasure and often get to relive because of the magic of social media and remaining virtual friends with many of those students.

Students then likely didn’t really care as much as I did about our discussions of Hemingway’s insightful portrayal of the emptiness many from the U.S. felt post-WWI, especially the expatriated artists who called themselves the Lost Generation.

As I write this, barely past Halloween 2015, the Christmas season has ramped up as if Thanksgiving doesn’t exist (except for Black Friday), and the seasonal yammering about the war on Christmas has begun.

It is very much a U.S. thing for the majority, those with the upper-hand, to play the role of the oppressed—while simultaneously shaming those actually oppressed for daring to speak against inequity.

As I write this, the Christian horror of the moment is a coffee chain’s choice for cups during the holidays.

I cannot help noting that Christmas is the largest consumerism orgy imaginable—during the season born out of the coming of Jesus to this planet, a religious figure and religion that reject the material world. Lay down your worldly possessions and follow me, and all that.

For a people who beat a false drum about being a Christian nation, founded by Christian principles, we are a soulless lot—never raising much of a finger for the impoverished or the disadvantaged.

Suck it up, that’s our mantra.

And although I do not still teach Hemingway each academic year, I am convinced that the essential message of how our empty consumerism defines us—”‘Road to hell paved with unbought stuffed dogs'”—has now reached its logical conclusion: fantasy sports.

Our precious NFL—violent, sanctimonious, and superficially repentant—does not hold that spot, but now the cash promise of fantasy football (bannered across NFL games and ESPN) does, and does so perfectly.

We are not a people playing and watching thinly masked gladiator sport (as fake as that is, as soulless as that is); we are a people playing a game about a game in hopes of making money—a chance about as likely as the lottery.

Yes, the road to hell is paved with unbought stuffed dogs. We have walked it. We are there.

The Politics of Teaching Grammar

The pronoun/antecedent debate about “they” has continued at the NCTE Connected Community’s Teaching and Learning forum—mostly by advocates of prescriptive grammar.

That many English teachers continue to beat the drum for prescriptive rules is troubling—as I noted earlier when calling for descriptive grammar and conventional awareness. Troubling on one level since prescriptive grammar is solidly refuted by linguistics and the history of the English language [1]; troubling on another level since one staunch defense of the rules posted at the forum by an English teacher included a dangling modifier—highlighting that prescriptive grammarians often by necessity are themselves picking and choosing which “rules” to emphasize (an ironic type of descriptive grammar).

Another post called for ELA teachers to “hold the line with pronoun – antecedent agreement” because “[w]hile I think that grammar is a reflection of society, this is really about singular vs. plural.  It is not a political platform.”

And that last claim, I think, is an important place to consider further why a rules-based approach to language is failing both the language and our students.

First, critical pedagogy and critical literacy begin with the recognition that all human interaction, including language and teaching, is political. As Joe Kincheloe explains about teaching:

[P]roponents of critical pedagogy understand that every dimension of schooling and every form of educational practice are politically contested spaces. Shaped by history and challenged by a wide range of interest groups, educational practice is a fuzzy concept as it takes place in numerous settings, is shaped by a plethora of often-invisible forces, and can operate even in the name of democracy and justice to be totalitarian and oppressive. (p. 2)

And thus, making the claim that students must conform to prescriptive rules of language usage because those rules are not political is both a political act itself and a false claim that language can somehow be politically neutral. Endorsing prescriptive grammar instruction cannot be divorced from the historical fact that standard grammar has been used to perpetuate racism, sexism, and classism

As well, the literature we teachers of ELA often assign—from George Orwell’s 1984 and essays to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale—illustrates that who controls language controls people; these works also highlight how that imbalance of power is unfair.

As linguists show, all identifiable types of language usage (standard English, AAVE, etc.) are simply somewhat cohesive versions, none any superior to the other except that some group in power creates that status of standard or “correct.”

Therefore, again, all language usage and the teaching of language are inevitably about power, always political.

With that context, then, the teaching of ELA should prefer an authoritative stance instead of an authoritarian one (see the writings of Paulo Freire).

Authoritative teaching of language generates teacher authority based on that teacher’s knowledge and experience with language (in terms of grammar, I would argue that includes essentially linguistics and the history of the English language). Authoritative teaching seeks to foster the student’s authority through that students’ understanding conventional usages as well as the biases associated with those usages.

Authoritarian teaching of language is the rules approach, in which teacher authority is grounded in the status of being the teacher, and the authoritarian stance necessarily asserts the authority’s (teacher’s) politics and mutes the politics of the subservient (student). Authoritarian teaching simply demands compliance—applying rules because they are rules.

As teachers of ELA, we are serving our students and the language well if we see language usage as something to be investigated and interrogated—not as a mechanism for imposing our authority on the student.

Those students can and should be guided in investigating and interrogating why we have standard English—who it benefits and why so that their own awareness about the power of language serves them and not those who use it to deny other people their political voices.

[1] Both in the false notion that some language use is inherently superior to others (as opposed to the arbitrary nature of standard forms based on who has political power), and against the reality that all language usage evolves, changes (and thus, trying to stop that change is misunderstanding the basic nature of language).

See Also

Revisiting James Baldwin’s “Black English”

A Tale of Two Teachers: The Politics of Personal Teaching, Nat Hentoff

The Very Persistent Delusions of Billionaire-Edureformers

Billionaire-Edureformer extraordinaire Bill Gates “sat in a gray easy chair” at Clemson University’s Tillman Hall (yes, that Tillman Hall) to pontificate once more on education reform.

Gates soothed the crowd by explaining “that if they get frustrated at the lack of change in American education policy, they should ‘go into a charter school’ to see quality change,” reported Nathaniel Cary.

And, on que, “Gates defended the Common Core,” and of course, “innovation,” before tossing out his old standby: “Improving the quality of teachers across the country is the only way to close the gap for all students, an initiative his foundation supports [read: ‘purchases’], he said.”

Delusion 1: Gates has financed and perpetuated the same accountability policies started in the early 1980s. If there is a “lack of change” in education (and there is), it is very much at Gates’s feet (or enormous wallet).

Delusion 2: School choice, including charter schools and public school choice, has resulted in outcomes that are indistinguishable from traditional public schools, as I detailed in 2010, and as the Center for Public Education concludes in this October 2015 analysis:

In general, we find that school choices work for some students sometimes, are worse for some students sometimes, and are usually no better or worse than traditional public schools. We hope that this report will inform the ongoing conversation about the efficacy of school choice in the nation’s efforts to assure every child is prepared for college, careers and citizenship.

Delusion 3: After thirty-plus years of education accountability driven by ever-new standards and ever-new high-stakes testing, what does the research reveal?:

There is, for example, no evidence that states within the U.S. score higher or lower on the NAEP based on the rigor of their state standards. Similarly, international test data show no pronounced test score advantage on the basis of the presence or absence of national standards. Further, the wave of high-stakes testing associated with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has resulted in the “dumbing down” and narrowing of the curriculum….

As the absence or presence of rigorous or national standards says nothing about equity, educational quality, or the provision of adequate educational services, there is no reason to expect CCSS or any other standards initiative to be an effective educational reform by itself.

Delusion 4: What do we know about teacher quality and its impact on student achievement—or, is teacher quality the “only way” to close the gap? Teacher quality, in fact, is less significant than “unexplained”:

But in the big picture, roughly 60 percent of achievement outcomes is explained by student and family background characteristics (most are unobserved, but likely pertain to income/poverty). Observable and unobservable schooling factors explain roughly 20 percent, most of this (10-15 percent) being teacher effects. The rest of the variation (about 20 percent) is unexplained (error). In other words, though precise estimates vary, the preponderance of evidence shows that achievement differences between students are overwhelmingly attributable to factors outside of schools and classrooms (see Hanushek et al. 1998;Rockoff 2003; Goldhaber et al. 1999; Rowan et al. 2002; Nye et al. 2004).

With apologies to George Saunders, Gates lounging comfortably in a state university building named for a murderous racist while spouting what at best are misrepresentations and at worst out-and-out lies about education reform is just another example of the very persistent delusions of billionaire-edureformers.

Resisting Good/Bad Teacher/Police Frame and Confronting Systemic Flaws in Education, Law Enforcement

[Expanded and revised at Alternet: A Few Bad Actors? A Former Teacher on Classroom Cops]

The Spring Valley High controversy created by the excessive force used by a police officer on campus represents the intersection of the wider and growing public debates about so-called bad teachers and bad police.

Let me clarify first that I was a public school teacher for 18 years, and I have family members and good friends who are or were police officers. Speaking about the fields of teaching and law enforcement, I would typically be supportive of the individual people who choose these professions that are primarily about serving the public good. Of course, I have dear friends and family members I also consider to be wonderful people, good people who are also outstanding in their professions as teachers and police officers.

I have also heard these good people say and watched them do things that are detrimental to children and adults, things steeped in racism, homophobia, sexism, and classism.

As a teacher (coach and parents, also), I often made mistakes, ones that were detrimental to students and teens. I also came home from teaching on more than one instance with students’ blood splattered on my clothes after breaking up fights. Once, I stood face-to-face with a student of mine who had come on campus with a shotgun planning to shoot a female with whom he had developed an unhealthy fascination.

I am not under the delusion that teachers and police officers must be perfect, and I am well aware that both professions are sometimes (teaching) and often (law enforcement) extremely dangerous for the professionals who are not financially compensated in ways that match their responsibility or the dangers they encounter.

As well, I have almost no tolerance for the political and public demonizing of bad teachers and bad police officers—the finger-pointing at manufactured scapegoats similar to the Reagan era “welfare queen,” which we know was an ugly, racist tactic that misrepresented welfare recipients; the finger-pointing at black-on-black crime that willfully ignores that white-on-white crime is essentially at the same rate (virtually all crime is within race, that is).

Therefore, we are in a difficult position as a society, one that requires all of us to consider the black girl being slammed to the classroom floor against the shooting and killing of Tamir Rice.

To step back from “she should have just done as she was told,” to refrain from blaming the victim.

In fact, we need to refrain from pointing fingers at individuals because many teacher and police officer errors in judgment and tragic behaviors are the result of the larger systemic flaws in our society and the institutions of formal education and criminal justice.

Responding to the incident at Spring Valley High, Camika Royal, a professor of urban education at Loyola University in Maryland, explained:

“Instead of making her cell phone and/or her behavior the focus of his class, he could have told her he would deal with her after class,” Royal wrote in an email to TakePart. “Because of his choice not to let it go, to contact the administrator instead, he kept students from learning, and he disrupted the learning environment.”

In the classroom, wrote Royal, “power struggles with students rarely end well.”

It appears the student put away her phone, but didn’t want to hand it over. This was a situation escalated by the adults in authority. The infraction could easily have been addressed after class.

While far more tragic, Tamir Rice’s life also was extinguished because the officer with authority escalated the situation, over-reacted.

I want to stress that such over-reactions must not be discounted or trivialized as individual behaviors, but must be recognized as the result of normalized expectations, cultural tolerance of how some people, including children, can and should be treated.

As I have examined before, why were public discussions about domestic abuse of women prompted by NFL high-profile incidences absent support for hitting women, but the concurrent debates about hitting children all included pro-spanking arguments?

Because of a lingering normalized acceptance of hitting children that is entirely refuted by research and the medical profession.

Teachers and police officers (including black teachers and police officers) are themselves agents of pervasive systemic biases that continue to disproportionately and negatively impact people and children of color: black children are perceived as being older than their biological ages, black children are punished in school while white children are prescribed medications or provided counseling, black communities are targeted more often by law enforcement, blacks are charged and convicted at higher rates than whites for the same infractions, and blacks and whites use recreational drugs at the same rates but blacks are significantly more likely to be punished for that use.

Just as there is no safe or positive amount of corporal punishment for children—and just as the evidence shows that corporal punishment makes children aggressive and violent adults—the research is powerful that police in the hallways and zero tolerance policies in schools both disproportionately target majority-minority schools and criminalize students.

Yes, we must take care to address individual cases such as the one at Spring Valley High, but if we focus all of our energy on who to blame and if or how we should punish the police officer, we are likely to allow the larger forces to exist that will insure we will continue to face these avoidable situations again and again.

The best day in my teaching career was when I learned to de-escalate tension between me and a student. That day I began creating a classroom in which we all could avoid conflict and disruptions. Most of that change was mine to recognize and to manage—not the teens who were in my care.

The teen at Spring Valley High should never have been slammed to the floor, and Tamir Rice should be alive. Just as teachers and police officers need not be perfect, neither of these young people should have to be perfect to avoid violence and death at the hands of people charged to protect and serve them.

The first step to a solution is admitting the problem: Education and law enforcement in the U.S. are both poisoned by the facts of racism remaining in our culture. Denying that fact is embracing that racism.

Teachers and police officers need not be perfect, but teaching and law enforcement must be better, and we must make that happen immediately.

See Also

Rejecting Police in the Hallways: A Reader

All the White Responses (and the Game Is Rigged)

#NCTE15: G.05 Teaching Beyond the Classroom: Social Media as Teacher Activism and Professionalism

G.05 Teaching Beyond the Classroom: Social Media as Teacher Activism and Professionalism

9:30-10:45, Saturday November 21


Drawing on Audre Lorde’s “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” these roundtables will explore how social media (blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) can serve as the new tools to reclaim the teaching profession through teacher voice, teacher stories, and public scholarship and activism.

Chair: Paul Thomas, Furman University, Greenville, SC

Co-Chair: Sean Connors, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Roundtable 1: “Just Write: Blogging for Change” Sarah Hochstetler, Illinois State University, Mark E. Letcher, Lewis University, Joliet, IL, Leah Zuidema, Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa, Kristen Turner, Fordham University, New York, New York

Roundtable 2: “Why is no one reading my blog?” Steven Zemelman, Illinois Writing Project, Evanston, Peter Smagorinsky, The University of Georgia, Athens

Roundtable 3: “Teaching beyond the Classroom: Creating a Public Voice for Literacy Advocacy” Paul Thomas, Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina

Roundtable 4: “Fist Pumps and Paradigm Shifting: Redefining Contextual Implications of Social Constructs and Their Lived Experiences” Nakeiha Primus, Millersville University, Kristy Girardeau, Arbor Station Elementary School, Douglasville, Georgia, Shekema Silveri, IFE Academy of Teaching & Technology, Atlanta, Georgia

Roundtable 5: “Droplets, Puddles, Torrents, Waves: How Social Media Can Foster Solidarity” Julie Gorlewski, State University of New York at New Paltz

Roundtable 6: “What Is and Isn’t Covered Under the Mantle of Academic Freedom?” Christian Goering, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Roundtable 7: “Cultivating Your Role as a TeacherActivist” Shawna Coppola, Rollinsford Grade School

Roundtable 8: “Interrupting the Preschool to Prison Pipeline in Education” Jeanette Toomer, Drama Discovery and Learning, New York, New York, and New York City Department of Education, New York

See Also (uploaded as handouts)

What, Me Blog?

New Media, New Public Intellectuals

Professors as Public Intellectuals: A Reader

Safe Spaces for Teachers’ Professional Voices in a Public Sphere

All the White Responses (and the Game Is Rigged)

When a black female high school student was wrestled violently from her desk and slammed to the floor by a police officer in Columbia, SC, many responded with outrage across the nation, confronting the mounting evidence that black lives do not matter—even in the supposed sanctuary of a public school.

Many also raised voices once again about the significant negative impact that zero tolerance policies and police in the hallways have on black and brown students, both male and female. As Kathleen Nolan has documented, zero tolerance policies and police in the hallways often criminalize children, a dynamic almost exclusively impacting black, brown, and impoverished children.

Assistant professor of Communication Studies at Clemson University, Chenjerai Kumanyika added yet another in-state moment of violence between police officers and youths to his advocacy for social justice and equity. In fact, Kumanyika represents the power of highlighting that #BlackLivesMatter is a necessary mantra that both targets and transcends race since he has stood beside the parents and supporters of a white teen shot and killed by a police officer and raised his voice against the excessive police violence experienced by a black girl in her desk and apparently endorsed by the school leadership.

However, among the outrage and calls for both racial equity and justice for all, we have the white responses of “yes, but”—such as this letter to the editor in The State:

It seems unbelievable that a school resource officer would respond in a physical manner because the student was disrespectful. We would expect the teacher to be in charge, and we would certainly expect any student to respond to the direct commands of a teacher or an assistant principal, but both of these school officials relied on the school resource officer to comply with their request to remove the student from the classroom.

Now we have lots of folks who were not present in the classroom, and have no direct knowledge of the student’s actions, providing guidance in how to handle an unresponsive student.

At some point we have to recognize authority will be obeyed and that enforcement consequences may be ugly beyond our expectations. I don’t have to agree with legal commands, but I do have to obey them.

“If they just did what they were told” is the coded racist response to the outrage; it is a comment heard and read about the black girl being slammed to the ground, but not echoing against the growing skepticism about a police officer shooting and killing a white male teen.

The “yes, but” responses among white and privileged commentary on police in the hallways represent the larger white denial about racism and white privilege.

The U.S. was founded (by white privileged men) through widespread refusal to obey the law. Women’s rights were gained through widespread refusal to obey the law. Civil rights were demanded through widespread refusal to obey the law.

And in 2015, ample evidence shows that neither the criminal justice system nor school disciplinary policies are equitable in terms of who is targeted and the severity of the punishments.

In a society or a school where laws and rules are themselves practiced along racial lines, as Martin Luther King Jr. implored, the right thing to do will be not to do as we are told.

But that is not a mandate for children or youth—although they too must be supported when they do take those stances. That mandate is for all adults of conscience, especially adults of conscience and privilege, and our voices must not waver when the people charged to protect and serve us take the lives and dignity of our children—because any child is everyone’s child, or we are a people without any moral authority to demand that anyone obey the laws and rules.

There is no excuse for “yes, but” from the lips or keyboards of white privilege.

These are times for listening, for having our own zero tolerance policies for abuses of power and the remaining cancer of racism among our society.

We are well past the time, also, to admit that the winners always love the rules of the game and to confront as well that this game is rigged [1].

First, then, we must demand a level playing field, one upon which every child is sacred, every person is judged on the content of their character.

Otherwise, “This rigid refusal to look at ourselves may well destroy us,” James Baldwin argued; “particularly now since if we cannot understand ourselves we will not be able to understand anything” (Baldwin, 1998, p. 593).

And the most tragic among that destruction will continue to be children and youth—too often “other people’s children.”

Baldwin, J. (1998). James Baldwin: Collected essays. New York, NY: The Library of America.

See Also

What happened in South Carolina is a daily risk for black children, Stacey Patton

Dear Black Children: Everyone Can Beat You!, Stacey Patton

She was guilty of being a black girl: The mundane terror of police violence in American schools, Brittney Cooper

Where Are Black Children Safe? Roxane Gay

[1] See Why are working class kids less likely to get elite jobs? They study too hard at college, Henry Farrell:

rules of the game

Megalomaniacs and the Assault on the Humanities

I exist in two marginalized disciplines—English of the “impractical” humanities and education of the soft (and “too practical”) social sciences.

In the so-called real world outside of academia, the disciplines that matter tend to be economics, political science, psychology, and the sacred “hard” sciences. Currently, I teach at a small liberal arts university, which is of a type that is increasingly being marginalized as a continuation of the larger and longer assault on the humanities, such as history, English, and the classics.

One may wonder just how the humanities have come under such relentless assault. I think I have an answer.

Daedalus earned the status of master craftsman, goes the myth, including the ability to build wings for humans to fly. But once he constructed these wings, Daedalus warned his son, Icarus, not to fly too close to the sun, less those wings would melt.

Myth, you see, defies the strictures of the hard sciences, such as physics, which would render this narrative with so many holes that no one would pay attention to the message; yet, the Daedalus/Icarus myth has endured, even replicated in the visual arts:

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, Pieter Bruegel

And poetry, “Musee des Beaux Arts,” W.H. Auden.

At the center of the Icarus myth—defying his father, his fall—is the recurring message of the humanities: beware human pride (hubris). It can be found again and again in classic literature/art, modern literature/art, and history.

Like the people and the world in Bruegel’s painting and Auden’s acknowledgement, we seem determined to turn away from this warning—and not without prompting from those who are filled with pride, the megalomaniacs who run the U.S.

Since the race for president now confronts us, just watch and listen carefully—megalomaniacs flying too close to the sun and demanding that we should follow.

The same megalomaniacs who assault and discredit the Humanities, where their kind litter the real and virtual landscapes.

Trump had it rough, you see, starting with a little million dollar loan and living off the fruits of how kind bankruptcy is to the Icaruses of the business world; you see he gets to fly too close again and again, nearly unscathed, and uses that to demand that we should follow, we should trust him to lead us.

And while Trump is a bit extreme, a bit cartoonish, he is the megalomaniac class that runs the U.S.—and his popularity proves how blind the average person is to this charade.

And while the megalomaniacs call for more mice to trot through the sacred disciplines—economic, political science, psychology, and the “hard” sciences—the way out of this mess lies forever there in the humanities, where the megalomaniacs are tragic, where their own voices are used to expose their folly.

Auden notes “how everything turns away/Quite leisurely from the disaster,” but the disaster is not someone else’s; the disaster is ours.

Rejecting Police in the Hallways: A Reader

Reporting at NPR:

Authorities are investigating a classroom incident between a white sheriff’s deputy and a black high school student in Columbia, S.C., where the deputy, a school resource officer, flipped the female student’s desk backward and dragged her to the ground.

This violent response to being a black girl in school continues the pattern that proves in the U.S. “other people’s children” (read black, brown, poor) do not matter. Parallel to evidence of police violence that black lives do not matter, this abuse of power in a SC school must raise a voice against what Kathleen Nolan documents in Police in the Hallways; see:

Journal of Educational Controversy – Review: Police in the Hallways: Confronting the “Culture of Control”

My review ends:

Broadly, then, Nolan’s Police in the Hallways forces the reader to consider how the line between the police state in and out of school has become blurred in some children’s lives. It is a harsh lesson about how middle-class norms mask a cultural willingness to subject other people’s children (Delpit, 2006) to institutional policies and messages that no middle-class or affluent parents would accept for their own children:

In a grossly inequitable school system and stratified society, punitive urban school disciplinary policies serve the interests of the white middle and wealthy classes, as poor youth of color are demonized through the discourses of zero tolerance and subjected to heavy policing. (Kindle Locations 2391-2392)

See Also

Resource Officer’s Violence Toward Student Raises Fundamental Question That Most Miss

#AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh: Deputy Ben Fields Sued Twice In Federal Court

Student Who Videotaped Incident Speaks Out

Racism affects black girls as much as boys. So why are girls being ignored?

FBI investigation sought in S.C. school incident caught on video

South Carolina sheriff’s deputy on leave after dragging student from her desk

Another Black Girl Assaulted by White Cop: Do We Matter Yet?

White America will ignore this video: The hideous & predictable violence of our schools, our legal system, our society

Greenville News: COMMENTARY: Are black children criminalized in schools?