It's been almost a couple of years since I've been on hiatus from working full time with youth in the community. As you all know, I've been working on planning a strategic platform to implement a proposal for an after-school center located in the heart of the hood. It takes a lot of brain power and commitment and don't know how long it's gonna take before we break the ground dirt. But I want the best for my community....so I am looking under every rock and pebble to ensure that no stones are left unturned-which will ultimately give our kids the best opportunity to learn....without any cost to them.
Anyway, I happened to be on the train the other day. I was in the back with the students[don't know why I always gravitate toward them]....and there were three boys....maybe 11-12 years old. They were calling each other n$ggers and cussing....laughing cuz they thought it was funny and they were being cool. And no black adult said a word. I was in one of my moods...and so. I looked up and asked the leader, "do you talk like that in front of your parents?" The young guy looked at me shocked that I even said anything to him and slowly replied.."duh no. " "Then why are you talking like that in front of me?" He didn't know how to respond. The guy in the middle said something like "fock you." I turned my eyes to him and said "sir? dont you know folks died so you can ride on this bus? And he said no...which he shouldn't have. But he wanted to prove to his buddies he was tough and no one was gonna challenge him. Well that pissed me off. And I let the young brothers have it. I also told the story of my son's demise. The leader asked "who killed your son." I said gang bangers who called each other n$ggers,.....just like yall."
I said you need to go back to school and learn about your black history. And when you get home apologize to your parents cuz I am sure they are not breaking their backs to take care of you so you can get on the train and call each other n$ggers. As I was fussing, here come heifer who was sitting on the side of them say, you guys are good looking and you don't need" I didn't hear the rest and busted in her bullshyte and said "looks have nothing to do with it. We built this country for you and it's your job to take it to the next level by using the intelligence God gave you to do it." And then I cut my eyes at her. "Looks have nothing to do it with it. It's become a problem, Cuz $200 tennis shoes are not gonna get you into college."
Anyway, I was annoyed cuz heifer didn't say a word when these boys were cussing loud and calling each other n$ggers. All of a sudden, she got brave when I confronted them. Had she said something poignant that would have impacted the convo I was having with them that would have been something different. But she wanted to put her two cents in cuz she may have been embarrassed that she didn't call them out herself. However, what she said to them was like putting gasoline on a fire. They don't need to hear about looking good externally cuz that's our problem as black people....we are sooooooo visual. That we forgot about having a vision.
Anyway, the rest of the people who were also in the rear of the train gave me a nods up when we got to the location. I thought I had lost my touch with children cuz it has been so long since I've been in the classroom. I was reminded that I still have it. And I say that cuz these boys did not disrespect me or try to intimidate me as I went bananas on them giving them a condensed African American History 101 lesson in less than 3 minutes....they just listened to every thing I said without interruption or rudeness. I knew then they were just kids seeing what they could get away with-without adult supervision. I was so angry at them that I forgot to ask why weren't they in school.
My point? We as African Americans should be on the SAME team when it comes to our children. And we should not allow our youths to behave badly in public...just cuz we may be a little intimidated-which is understandable. But our youths are dying...either by their own hands or by the po po. If we remain silent when we KNOW they are doing something WRONG....it is an injustice to the children we say we want to raise/save. I remember Sista Sunnubian saying something to me about planting a seed in children. And that wonderful thought was inbedded in me as I was talking to them. Cuz if in fact it is a seed that I just planted in them....could you imagine the many seeds of hope other black folks can implant in black children to save their lives?
I don't know if it made a difference or not. But I do know that I shocked the hell outta them when I called them out. They know NOW that SOMEBODY [other than those in their mirco-system environment] cares about them. They know now somebody WASN'T afraid to CONFRONT them.when doing something wrong in public. And they know what they do matter. Cuz they matter..always have mattered. And I know this sounds crazy...but! It is those components above that make children feel safe in their community. I know I did when I was called out as a kid. But!