My son is African-American. I could care less. All I care about is that he is my son.
That said, how would I feel if he was shot and killed? Of course, I would be heartbroken.
So how do I talk to him about the events in Ferguson, Mo? Or do I? He is affected differently by some things just because of his race. Why is he affected differently? Because the rest of our family is not African-American. Because he is. It is a simple fact of life. It isn’t fair, but it is life.
We didn’t adopt him out of hope of winning some noble award for bettering a race of people. We adopted him because we fell in love with a little boy. Our whole family fell in love with him. Those that didn’t no longer matter because they haven’t been a part of his life since before the adoption was finalized.
When we adopted him, the case worker asked how we would teach him about his heritage. I don’t know. More than a decade later, I still don’t know. What we are working to teach him, as we are all of our children, is to be a human being. To live life in a way that exemplifies you as a human. To show empathy to those who are less fortunate. To treat others as you want to be treated. We have taught him that the ni***r word is never appropriate. NEVER.
So how do I respond to the events in Ferguson? Where a community has experienced so much.
In Ferguson, Mo.
A man was shot by a police officer.
An African-American was shot by a police officer.
An African-American was shot by a white police officer.
Outside of Ferguson.
A man was shot by a police officer.
A white man was shot by a police officer.
A white man was shot by an African-America police officer.
How is one more valid or important than the other? Most people never heard about the second death by police. I won’t tell you much about it except to say it happened in Utah. Look up the event for yourself. I won’t say that either police officer was justified in their actions. I wasn’t present when the events happened, and I bet a lot of other people weren’t either.
So teachable moment exists for all of our society. How do we handle it from here? I don’t expect to stamp out racism any time soon, that is much too idealistic. But when the race card is played over and over again as the potential reason for events in our lives, eventually it loses it’s potency.
Isn’t it bad enough that a man was killed by a police officer? or by anyone for that matter?
African-American heritage should be celebrated. As should American heritage.
This is a time when the very fabric of our society could use a teachable moment to begin the change process. Who is up for the challenge?
What will be our legacy for future generations?
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So my son has anxiety about the first day of school. This year is worse than normal because his resource teacher didn’t come back. So we have to “break in” a new teacher. I think that he will do well, it is just going to take time for him to adjust.
Their are key points to transitioning through the anxiety. Points that we have found successful in years past.
- Don’t force the child to go to school. 504’s and IEP’s are made for a reason. If necessary get the anxiety added to the education plan.
- Don’t minimize the way the child feels. By making light of the way they feel, you can actually affect their already fragile self-esteem.
- All things in time. We gradually increase the length of each day by 15 minutes. Then reward the positive behavior.
- Ensure that the child understands that they are still responsible for the school work that they are missing.
- Allow the child the opportunity to voice how they feel. Don’t minimize the tears. We likely won’t understand how the child feels, but we don’t need to make them feel worse because they are crying. School can be daunting without having anxiety.
- Ensure that the school understands what is going on. They should be supportive and encourage learning.
- The last thing that I can recommend is that the child needs to know who they can turn to when the anxiety hits them. They need to know that how they feel is perfectly normal. If possible identify two staff that they can approach. In our case it is the teacher, and the principal. If the teacher is absent, they can see the superintendent.
Anxiety doesn’t have to mean the end of the school career. It is a matter of making the child comfortable, and showing them that their concerns are real. Moving forward, you can gradually plan for each year of schooling. A good start to the year is having the child walk through the building before the first day of school, identify classroom(s) that they are in, and plan the best route to each.
If you are of mind to, please add any tips in the comments below.