Let Kids Be Kids

Newspapers often print negative stories of the lives of black children murdered–as though ONLY black teenagers do wrong stuff, as though those one or two instances tell you everything about who they are.

News flash: black kids are kids, too.

All teenagers do rotten things–they are impulsive, flighty, and otherwise silly. If they published every negative aspect of all our lives, we would ALL look bad. But there is this constant story in the media that portrays black teens as particularly horrible people, when really what is happening is that they are simply being teenagers–lying to parents, sneaking out the house, doing foolish things with friends…Tell me you were a perfect teenager, and I will call you a liar to your face.

Anyway, be mindful of the stories that you read or listen to in the news. Those stories will have you judging a child like an adult that you know personally. And that, my friends, is the mark of bias.

See, we talk about racism in all its ignominy. And even as we have so far to go with it, talking about racism’s many forms becomes easier and easier. What we fail to sit with as much? Our bias. Bias sits undetected, rioted down in the place where our automaticity and belief systems gel together into actions so deeply ingrained that we think of those actions as truth because they feel natural. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Bias will make you shrug when a black child is handed a grown man’s life sentence for a crime that a white child gets probation for. Bias will have you believing that you have to attend a PWI to get a great education and have a lucrative career. Bias will lead you to believe that your house will lose value if too many brown skinned people move into your neighborhood. Bias will make you believe that the black child needs to written up for their ADHD symptoms while a non-melanated kid just needs some accommodations to be successful.

It’s time that we stop fighting behind the false flags and get down with the get down in our classrooms. The biases that show up across the board have just as much impact on student achievement as anything else. Belongingness impacts all aspects of academic life, not just learning. And if your subconscious attitude towards a group is bleeding through? No best practice in the world will override the feeling a child has that is unwanted.

Bias always leaks through, whether the student can articulate what’s happen and you admit it—or not.

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