Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Silent Hoodies: Stand Your Ground Against Racism

After hearing what Geraldo Rivera said about the hoodie being part of the blame, all I could think about was how rape victims are often called in to question based on the length of their skirts for justification of the rape.  I wanted to do something, say something, act, anything but sit idly by.

So I went to my principal on Monday to ask if my program (that was born out of urgency for young black men achieving what they deserve in my school) could invite the school to participate in a "Silent Hoodies: Stand Your Ground Against Racism" Day on Wednesday (today) in which students and staff would wear hooded sweatshirts all day, and in the classrooms discuss various acts of senseless violence where race is at the center.

I was told, "Let me talk to a few people, and I'll get back to you."

A few periods went by and I went to check on how the "talks" were going, and was told, "Not yet."

Then a period later, I went to the second in command and asked her about it and was told, "Can't do it.  I just finished hashing this idea out with the principal and a few others and we just can't get involved with such controversial topics.  We would have to get the parents permission, it would end up causing the issue of color to be raised on too many levels.  We can't handle such a power keg issue.  Not to mention, what happens if we get behind this whole Trayvon Martin thing only to find out later in court that he was the trouble maker, then what?"

Ok. I then asked, "Well, what if we did it in-cog-negro just within my program?"

"Nope.  Because if students or staff start asking questions, again it may cause the unsightly behavior of certain types of people (side eye)...however, if you want to take the kids in your program to a rally - no problem, a round table discussion outside of school - sure.  You just can't do it here in school."

Ok.  I felt defeated.

I had already begun pitching the idea to my seniors that were all for it.  Sigh.

Then on Tuesday, I got an out (I won't say from who).  I was told it would be different and more acceptable, if the idea came from the students and they wanted to make a statement.

Ah ha!  By George I think I've got it!

So during my prep period (or my stalker period where students in my program hang out between classes) I had another conversation with one of my seniors that went a little something like this:

Senior:  Hey, Mrs.  My girl is down for the cause, too, tomorrow, and we're going to wear matching hoodies.

Me: Hey, that's awesome! But did you know that this was a really great idea you had about doing this Silent Hoodie? I'm really proud of you.

Senior: I did? You are?

Me: (raised eyebrows)

Senior: I got you, Mrs. I was really excited about doing this Silent Hoodie day, and I made sure everybody found out about it.  It's going to be great, I'm so glad I thought of it.

And they say high school students aren't smart!

We had a very effective day.  My all boys class asked a lot of questions about different scenarios that they had heard of or experienced, and now I'm trying to create a class project that I'm either going to call "I'm not a statistic" or "Guilty until proven innocent".  I want them to research young boys or men like themselves that were either falsely accused or victims of hate crimes and what solutions could they come up with.  Haven't figured it all out.  But I will.  Because I certainly don't want my son or any of my boys (or girls) in my program to fall victim to someone else's bigotry.

**Definition of the "stand your ground" law according to US News:
A “stand your ground” law states that a person may use deadly force in self-defense without the duty to retreat when faced with a reasonable perceived threat. The laws expand on the “Castle doctrine,” which says that a person is protected under the law to use deadly force in self-defense when his or her property or home is being invaded. More than half of the states in the country have some form of “Castle doctrine” or “stand your ground” law on the books.

1 comment:

BloggerFather said...

That's a great story. In a way, although there's nothing controversial about wearing hoodies to protest Geraldo's BS, I can understand why a school would be afraid to get into controversial issues. It would have been nice if they weren't afraid (molding young minds means taking a stand for justice, after all), but I understand why they would be scared.

Glad you found the loophole.