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.
Kevin “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.