Monday, May 24, 2010

Calling All Gatekeepers—Part 2

In my work as an educator, I go to schools in different areas of the city. My job is sit and observe the teaching and learning that is taking place and share what I’ve learned with the teachers. Today I'm going to share what some of what I've learned because it extends beyond the academic; I learn about life. And much of what I see saddens, frightens and angers me. Our children mirror us and the reflection is not always pretty.

Vignette #1
I am talking with a principal about a child’s in appropriate language in class. We are discussing how and why these children are able talk about the things that that do. Before our conversation ends, she shares with me a note that was confiscated from two girls. It read: I got an ass so big like the sun, Hope you got a mile for a dick I wanna run. She asked me how could these children--these little girls-- know these things, I told her they were probably song lyrics, and I volunteered to do some investigating. I googled the lyrics and found that the girls had written down the first verses verbatim from a song by Trina.

Vignette #2

I am working with a group of students in a classroom, when I hear commotion behind me. I turn around to see the teacher stepping between two girls trying to separate them before they fight. She manages to get one of the girls out of the room, and some of the girls in the room are holding onto the other girl as she yells, "Bitch, I will kill you! I will kill you right now!" as she tries to break free of their grip. “Y’all betta let me go,” she screams at them. They do. She heads toward the door, but I tell her she’s not going anywhere. She sits down and fumes at me. When her teacher returns she storms across the room, snatches a chair away from one of the desk and slams herself into the chair.

Vignette #3
It has been a particularly trying day in the classroom, and the teacher is frustrated and overwhelmed with trying to restore any order. She comes to where I am sitting and explains some of the problems that she’s having in the classroom. These two girls are talking. “She’ll sit back there and talk to her, but I bet she won’t say it to my face.”

The girls in all of these scenarios are in elementary school. The first Vignette is taken from a 4th grade classroom and the second and third vignettes are taken from 5th grade classrooms. These girls think they are on par with any adult. They look like women and act like women. I see blond weave, acrylic nails and nightclub outfits in elementary school. One girl came to school for Halloween and refused to come out of the bathroom. When I went to check on her and she came out of the stall, she had on a denim mini skirt, a v-neck low cut shirt, red strappy heels and a phony pony for her hair. When I asked her who she was supposed to be, she told me her mom told her to be a Diva.

Younger and younger they're being exposed to a world that they’re not
equipped to handle. And because they’re not ready, they end up being confused and very angry. They have no respect for self or anyone else.


Class is ending. A male student in the class has done something to one of the girls. I don’t know what he did, but I hear her tell him, “You a pussy.” There are three adults present and she has no regard for any of us. I wait for one of the other adults to say something, but they don't. So, I do even though my role in the schools is that of an observer.I get her attention and I tell her that I heard what she said. She apologizes. I ask her did it dawn on her that there were three adults in the room. She said no. I ask why she would use that type of language. She hunches up her shoulders. I tell her she should find a better way. I also tell her that she's too pretty to let something so ugly come out of her mouth.

This girl comes into class and she’s angry. Someone has said something to upset her friend, and her friend is crying. Her loyalty is fierce. Her respect is lacking. “I wish I would heard somebody say I suck a nigga dick. She be right there with me suckin’ it.” The teacher is in the hall and doesn't have a clue about the conversation that is going on inside the classroom. Again I say something. In either of these scenarios will it matter tomorrow? I don’t know, but I said something today because they need to know that somebody cares about them and is going to hold them accountable for their actions. They don't really want to be grown yet; they just think they do.

Incidents like these happen every day, and I share them not for shock value, but for us to take action. Our boys are in trouble, and our girls are, too. Is there a girl that you can help in anyway today?


  1. Wow! I'm not surprised though. We've taken discipline out of the hands of the teacher. DCFS has taken it out of the hands of the parents and the parents are a new generation of undisciplined society. On top of that, the children are nutritionally deficeit and do not have the capacity to calm down and reason properly.

  2. We have to step in and let kids know that we care. Even if it is just once or just one day in their lives, our words go somewhere and they do stick. Even if it is just a sincere smile or a touch on the shoulder, kids soak it in...especially when they desperately need it.