In Trump's America, how do we care for our children?

As I'm writing this, Baltimore County Schools superintendent Dallas Dance is in some hot water.

Dance retweeted a tweet from Josh Starr, CEO of the international educators' group Phi Delta Kappa International. The tweet read:

"Educators: tomorrow pls show your muslim, black, latino, jewish, disabled or just non-white St's that you love them and will protect them."

Parents complained. According to ABC2-TV, Del. Joe Cluster, who represents Baltimore County in the House of Delegates, took to Twitter to demand Dance's resignation.

"As the superintendent of Schools, you represent all children and should make them all feel safe," the television station reported that Cluster tweeted.

Cluster doesn't know, or doesn't care, that white children's safety has never been the problem. That Donald Trump's candidacy and presidency have emboldened people who hate, making all the students that Starr listed in his tweets targets for hate crimes. Marginalized people aren't just expected to be fearful; they are expected to be silent. They are expected to take less and be mindful of the white majority.

As a parent, what do I do to address that?

I am a black woman and all we've ever had to give our children is a sense of who they are. We have never been able to provide them with safety, only the illusion of safety. Why do you think slave mothers killed their babies?

My job now is to gird my children up, keep their hearts as happy as I can. I can maintain a network around them of people who genuinely love them. Let them know that they are worthy, and beautiful, strong, powerful, in spite of a world that believes different.

Most of the black moms I know had a new version of "the talk" yesterday morning, when the sun came up on Trump's America. The old version of this talk was an introduction to racism: There are people who hate you, mind your business and keep your nose clean, don't expect to get away with the things your white classmates can get away with.

This new version is tricky because our babies have seen Obama. Our children know what is possible. It's a gift and a curse. Yes, this powerful black man and his beautiful black family have been in charge, but now they'll hand over the keys to the White House to a racist.

"Let us know if your teachers give you shit," we told our kids. "Sometimes the bad guys get a win. You can still be anything you want to be."

Dance responded to the backlash saying, "As the Superintendent of one of the largest most diverse school systems in our country, I always lead from an equity lens with an intense focus on all student populations and ensuring they feel welcome and supported."

"Education is not void of politics and during the last two years, our country has had one of the most divisive campaigns in modern history. Comments were made that disenfranchised several groups of students we serve in Baltimore County Public Schools. As our nation moves forward, it is our collective responsibility to make sure all students feel safe and know we are their advocates."

I hope that Dallas Dance doesn't lose his job over this. I hope that he is safe. I hope that my children have some semblance of safety, too.

Copyright © 2018, Baltimore City Paper, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Privacy Policy
32°