I had a revelation this morning while mall walking or should I say, re-revelation. The opposite of haphazard is intentional. We have to be clear in our ideas, our focus and our execution. There is a song out by Travis Greene called, "Intentional" It goes: All things are working for my good cause He's intentional, never failing.Of course, the He that he (Travis) is referring to is the almighty God-never failing. He's our perfect example.
I couldn't help thinking as I rounded the corners past Urban outfitters and a few anchor Department stores still left in the mall about intent or motive. I was bombarded about the newest case of a black man, Samuel Dubose, 43, who was shot and killed by the police in Cincinnati. I sat in the car earlier in the day on the 45 minute trek listening to reports and discussing it with my thirteen year old daughter. I wonder how many cases like this does her young ears hear before she becomes desensitized to the injustices. Do we know what our babies internalize? She has seen the dash cam video. I have not. Reporters are talking about the situation escalating. How does a routine traffic stop, or a boy buying skittles, for that matter, or a man selling cigarettes escalate to death? A million things run through my mind such as what they do to us and what we do to ourselves. I try to capture the good productive stuff to try and explain the crisis we are in to my teen. One thing, I know for sure, in this case, and in the Sandra Bland case, and the case of the teen girl slammed to the ground after a neighborhood pool party is that those cops' intention was clear, to dominate, to disrespect, maybe even use their authority to destroy another human's life.
If they are intentional, we have to be intentional, as role models, as parents, as educators on how we discuss, organize , protest and equip our kids to deal with authority. We are in crisis. We have to arm our kids to be apart of the next big Civil Rights movement. We, many with a degree or two of separation from the actual Civil Rights movement, are the bridge to the past.Some of our children if not the majority have to be the catalyst if not be a direct part of the solution. As an educator,I cannot help but draw the parallels of the war waged on the street to what is seen in the public schools. I know my people. I know kids. I teach middle school, for goodness sake, a mirror of what is going on in the larger nation. Kids are mouthy as all get out, incensed easily, and lack respect for authority. To even unlock what they know, to get to what they need to know, part of my job is disarm them. Not to make light of the situation, but it's sort of like a lion tamer meets an ATF bomb expert sometimes.
In the Sandra Bland case, one of the first things the arresting officer expressed to her was that she seemed a little agitated. To which she gave the flippant response, "I am. I'm wondering why you pulled me over when I was trying to get out of your way." If that was the case, her apparent tone was out in the open. I believe a rational cop with no agenda besides the public safety should have been able to disarm her. What happened to kid gloves? Disarm, disarm, disarm, damnit! Diffuse the situation. Professionals who deal with the public like Customer Service Representatives do it all the time. In my classroom, I am the professional, so when a kid tells me by word or deed that he/she is having a bad day, I believe them. I give them no pass, but my humanness allows them a moment to regroup. I let them know I hear them; I reassure them. I'm clear about my intention. We hopefully deescalate the situation. I thank God for the great men and women in uniform who do that on a daily basis. We must agree there are some who need this type of basic sensitivity training, and still others that need to be purged from Civil Service-ness altogether.
How, then, do we arm our kids to combat the atrocities of the day? Is it too cliché to say Education is the key? Media was fast to show what they considered the missteps of our protests in the streets of Ferguson and Baltimore. In many ways our kids' insolence and perceived indifference is a protest in and of itself. It gets back to the question of have we equipped our kids with tools ( the lessons of history and the language of civil disobedience to name a few.) We have to instruct our kids. How many "Birds & bees, and how NOT to be a victim," conversations are going on not only with our African American sons, but also, now, our daughters. I dare say it has to go a step further. We have to be intentional about our expectations for our children and teach them the distractions that can derail this game plan. We have to pray that our kids don't roam the Earth haphazardly, but find purpose. That might mean that just like on social media, we have to teach our kids to manage our friends and acquaintance and purge them to like-minded individuals or those we aspire to glean from. No one class, grade, school or degree will fill in all the gaps of life for us. We have to be life-long learners. We have to tend to our trauma. We have to teach our kids to make integrity their intention. We have to understand that we can influence, but the only one we can truly control is ourselves. If we hate stereotypes, we've got to stop being one. We have got to get along to be apart of a movement. That means we have to stop disrespecting each other for sport. We're outraged and vocal for a reason. I pray we can be intentional with our fervor, and that our hope cannot be squelched by current circumstances.