Baumhower: Bullies Burst my Suburban Bubble

Written by: Jeremy Baumhower

“Why did god make me brown?” asked a crying 6th grader to his mom.

I imagine when you adopt a child outside of your race and welcome children of a different color into your world, this would be the worst case moment one could ever imagine before starting the adoption process. My friend who adopted two black children, is living this nightmare today.

This is not happening in the South, nor in the year 1962; but in Sylvania Ohio and this week.

I love living and raising my family in Sylvania. I love the schools and especially the teachers that have made such a tremendous impact in the lives of my children. I love the families and true sense of community. I love the diversity of the district and curiosity that comes from it. I love that my child’s 2nd grade classroom has a waiting list for parents to volunteer and help.

Since the beginning of this school year, I have learned that a 12 year old child and Sylvania student has been called the n-word by three fellow classmates on a regular basis. An issue his family is struggling to understand, an issue that crosses uncomfortable lines when dealing with administrators in a predominately white school.

I don’t know if there could be anything else that has deflated my bubble so quickly and broken my heart so thoroughly then hearing about this boy’s racial bullying.

How does a 12 year-old child even learn the n-word? The tragic answer is… their parents.

My grandparents’ generation can be unapologetically racist. My parents’ generation are more apologetically racist. My generation will look around before sharing a racist joke, but is the most evolved of the bunch yet.

My kids describe black children as “brown”. It wasn’t something consciously driven in my household, just something that naturally occurred. The concept is so simple and beautiful of just describing people by the shade of their skin, who was I to correct them. Why sit them down and tell them about a problem they never knew existed?

Our best chance in the future of a hate-free America lies within the souls of young people filling elementary schools today.

Children in schools today celebrate President Obama, they learn about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks and Jackie Robinson. The first generation of children in history being raised with an overall more racially tolerant parental bunch. You can see the positive effects of a world trying to be more “P.C.” or “Politically Correct” in the hearts and minds of babies today.

There is such clear and specific rules with zero tolerance when it comes to violence, threats and weapons; however when it comes to bullying and racism the lines are blurred.

In this specific ongoing circumstance of a 12 year old child being called the n-word, little has happened. Most of the name calling happens on the bus ride home or during the wait for it’s arrival. In a seemingly black-and-white issue, the response from the school has been pretty gray and weak.  The racial slurring is happening off school grounds or outside the school day, hands are apparently tied.

Every time the n-word is used as a vehicle for bullying during a bus ride or even in a classroom, it’s heard by an innocent set of ears. Ears attached to a child confused by it’s unfamiliarity and by the reaction it is getting. Humans learn new words in few ways; hearing a peer say and use it, may be the easiest.

Every day that passes where no punishment occurs to the uneducated boys who are using it as a verbal punch, makes it more OK for them to say it. With such a powerful word should come a more powerful response.

special-k_daley2013tourKevin “Special K” Daley, a Harlem Globetrotter, has learned of this ongoing problem and is coming to town in an effort to help. “Special K” talks to schools about bullying, he gives students a game plan as to what to do if it occurs and when you see it happening. Mr. Daley is willing to use size, his fame, his god-given born abilities and his skin color as a way to discuss this specific ongoing issue. He wants to inspire and educate an entire school about dangers of bullying and the incredibly negative power of the n-word.

So far, the school has not been as welcoming to the thought of a full assembly and a frank conversation about the power that lies within words, as I thought they would be. I hope that changes.

I want an effort to stop the hate before it reaches and impacts other children including my child. If we are not going to expel the bullies… let’s at least educate them.

Life is not an OAA test. “Excellent” schools don’t just educate, but also impact and inspire the lives of those who fill their hallways. What an amazing opportunity to teach a child about the power of a word.

Special K’s message is being welcomed by TPS as he will be speaking at Glenwood Elementary at 2 PM on Friday, May 9th.

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Columnist, Writer for Radio Shows across the US & Canada, Promoter, Believer, Father

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Posted in Baumhower, Column, Family, Feels, Toledo
4 comments on “Baumhower: Bullies Burst my Suburban Bubble
  1. Teri Burns says:

    Thank you Mr. Baumhower. I have been praying for our young man and God moved a mountain through you. I have 2 biracial grand children one in high school and one in middle school. Its sad for a young man to tell the oldest girl you are beautiful, smart and fun and I would love to ask you out, but I can’t because my parents won’t let me take out a black girl. So sad the things I hear. When you ask them what color they are they say that are “bright”, black and white. I love what you wrote and wish there were more like you and Special K!!! Thank you again for your article.

    Like

  2. Bridgette Beeler says:

    Excellent article Mr. Baumhower, you should be proud. As a teacher, and a parent in the Sylvania School district, I too was distressed by the issue of racism and the apparent lack of support from our school system. I am thrilled to hear that this issue will be addressed and that your article made an impact. This district has so many dedicated and caring teachers who will do anything in their power to stop incidents like this from happening to our children. The decision to have Special K come and speak is a victory for our entire community!

    Like

  3. Stacie H says:

    What a fantastic article. So glad it helped Special K be able to be welcomed to the school for his talk, I truly hope that it makes a difference in how that sweet 12 year old is treated.

    Like

  4. Shannon says:

    Thanks for your great insights. We should be frustrated by this sort of thing! So, here’s another, related wrinkle that I have a hard time with shepherding my 14-year-old through. Background: We live in a racially diverse college town so our middle school has not only “brown” and white kids but also has kids from all over the world because their parents are here as grad students, etc. It’s a pretty tolerant environment in that respect.

    What troubles me is that my white son hears his black friends us the N-word regularly – in reference to themselves mostly and, then also at times, in reference to white teammates like my son. So, my son is completely desensitized to the word. He wants to argue with us when we tell him it is out of bounds. Granted, he has to obey and does; but at a heart level I don’t think he is convinced that it’s so bad and would probably not view it as bullying really. (Depending on the context, I suppose.) And, I can guarantee that it’s not a word he heard at home because we have a huge heart for racial diversity and reconciliation. We’re very intentional about it.

    Not that it makes it OK, but do you think that could be a factor at all for these kids? If so, how do we help our kids really catch that despite how it is used today in pop-culture, it really is an offensive word that demeans a whole race of people. Thoughts?

    Like

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jeremybaumhower

jeremybaumhower

Columnist, Writer for Radio Shows across the US & Canada, Promoter, Believer, Father

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