It has become somewhat of a new hobby of mine.
Whenever a new local Black Lives Matter event is announced, I follow the online comments about it to see how people react.
And, I have to say, it has followed the exact same format each and every time one has been announced – and it absolutely saddens me.
Despite early apprehension about holding an event in the community, Lathrop will finally have a Black Lives Matter event on Saturday in River Islands – which will start at 10 a.m. at Michael Vega Park and work its way over to the parking lot at the River Islands Technology Academy where people are free to walk, stroll, or ride bikes as part of the grouping.
And people are reacting the exact same way that they always do – with shock, surprise, fear, anger, and sometimes blatant racism.
It has become a nice little weather marker letting me know whether people have actually come around and understood the message behind the group, or if they’re still offering the same cheap rebuttals and snarky comebacks that show that we’re still miles away from any type of real social equality in this country.
If your response to being told that a Black Lives Matter event is going to be held in your community in this part of California and your response is, “better board up the windows” – you’re the reason the event has to happen.
If your response has anything to do with Black Lives Matter activists not carrying about black lives when it’s “black on black crime” – you’re the reason the event has to happen.
If your response is to curtly come back with “all lives matter” – you’re the reason the event has to happen.
What is so baffling to me is that Black Lives Matter has nothing to do with racial superiority – nobody is saying that black lives matter any more than any other group of people. From slavery to forced economic inequality due to redlining and other racist practices to the neighborhood school formula that deprived inner-city schools of suitable educational budgets, there is no shortage of examples of how black Americans have been second class citizens throughout our history.
And I can’t help but think that people who fail to see that and speak out when the black community tries to raise awareness are representative of a group of people that are just generally scared of those that they don’t understand – and those are the people who need to listen and learn about the experiences of black Americans in this country now more than ever.
Fortunately, many of the things that have led to the inequality behind this movement have been abandoned in recent years. You no longer go to prison for decades for possession of crack cocaine or any other drug – we’re finally treating drug addiction as what it has been all along, a health issue, and not the criminal issue that has packed our prisons with people of color.
Redlining – the deliberate policy of not lending to people in certain neighborhoods, which disadvantaged generations of black Americans by not allowing them to be homeowners or business owners – was outlawed decades ago.
And police in America today are more conscious of the way they interact with the public around them than they ever have been in our history – they’re wearing cameras that capture every exchange, and everybody they come into contact with has a camera.
But generations of inequality doesn’t go away overnight. The impacts of crime policy as recently as the 1990s is still being felt today, and decades of systematically forcing black Americans into schools that didn’t measure up and into neighborhoods where they could never achieve the dream of home ownership simply won’t disappear just because we acknowledge them.
But that’s the first step – acknowledging them.
America is at a crossroads when it comes to race relations in this country and the way that we treat one another.
We can either stop and listen to the experiences that have led to the rage that we’ve seen unfold on television and do our level best to try and prevent it from getting worse, or we can pour gas on the fire with quick retorts and dismissals.
It’s entirely up to us as a country which way this is going to go.
Please choose wisely.
And for the love of God please just listen – don’t speak, rebut, reply, or argue. Just listen.
You’d be amazed at how much can be accomplished with just the tiniest dash of empathy.
Packing dozens of kids into a
classroom – what could go wrong?
This is anything but a normal summer for public school teachers in the State of California.
With roughly six weeks until school goes back into session, many teachers have no idea what things will be like on campus when they return – even with recent decisions that have given a glimpse into what that framework may actually be.
And yet, as COVID-19 defies conventional logic increasing both in the number of cases – sometimes tenfold – and the number of the people that are being hospitalized for it during the summer months when it was supposed to die down, indications are that many school districts are going to be going back to full classrooms with “reasonable safeguards” in place to protect students and staff from the transmission of the virus.
And I can’t see how that equates to anything other than the very conditions that viruses thrive in – especially when we get into the fall and cold and flu season finally arrives.
Considering that there have been a number of cluster outbreaks tied to “social gatherings” in San Joaquin County recently, I’m hesitant to think too much about what things will be like when high school and middle school teachers spend hours upon hours in a room with more than 100 different students for extended periods of time, and elementary school teachers spend all day with the same grouping of kids in close contact. Any one of those students could be carrying the virus, which could then spread to any of the other students in the class and their families, and on-and-on down the line it would go.
After months of being without a formal classroom education, I completely agree that students need to get back to school as soon as possible so as to not lose out on the quality education that every child in California is guaranteed.
I just hope that the desire to move things too fast doesn’t end up leading to another school shutdown when easing back into things could have prevented that from happening.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.