The Girl From South Carolina – Part 2

We all know that the girl we are talking about was orphaned this past year and is in foster care, right? Because no one seems to find this relevant, despite how traumatic that must be. We have all faced the harsh blow that comes with the death of loved ones, but few of us have been orphaned. We don’t know what she’s facing right now.

She is new to Spring Valley High and is known for being quiet. I don’t know much of her past, but these things have all been confirmed by numerous sources. So, if you are looking to blame her parents, they are dead, so there is really nothing good that could come from that blame.

I’m confused that we find it more believable that every teenager should follow every single rule every time, but we make no mention of holding adults, highly-trained in their profession, accountable for holding their temper, or for not being able come up with reasonable solutions to problems. Why do we blame a child for misbehaving, but not ask why neither a teacher, a high school administrator, and a safety officer could not pool their minds and training and years of experience and find a better way to handle this?

A non-violent way, for a non-violent offense.

I’m all for accepting responsibility for one’s actions, but we all need to be held accountable.

And is this is REALLY what you all think should happen every time a kid refuses to give up a cell phone in America?

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The Girl From South Carolina

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Photo from Associated Press

I spent a lot of last night thinking about the girl in South Carolina. My husband came home and we talked about it. Again. Another video. Another story we don’t know the whole of but still feel terrible about. Because people keep getting beat up publicly by police, and it gets shared with the world. And instead of it being a shock, it’s become normal.

And then there are people defending this. People so safe in their white skin that they can’t even see how unfair it all is. We don’t know the privileges that we have had by growing up white, or at least we can’t totally understand them. It’s all about perspective.

And that was what Steve and I kept saying was that we don’t know this girl. That we don’t know her story and that she was just a blur of girl being assaulted on a video that went viral. Yet there were so many nasty assumptions out there about her parents and how she was raised and how she was obviously so much of a problem to be so defiant. And how she had it coming to her.

This line of thinking- that an unarmed 16 year old girl deserves to be slammed to the ground repeatedly- it’s bullshit. It literally makes me feel sick to read that anyone could believe in their hearts that a kid deserved this. She was not a threat to anyone. She was being a brat and chewing gum and not putting her phone away like her teacher asked. Just like so many kids that I see when I visit the school, or from the stories that I hear from my teacher friends. This was not an infraction that needed to involve the police. And when it did, it escalated. I watched that video. The room is calm and kids are working quietly until the cop steps up to the girl. So I have to wonder what kind of disruptions she was causing if no one was even paying attention to her.

That officer has taken an oath to serve and protect, but he threw her around the room. A girl. A 16-year-old kid. Who, if you didn’t know, recently lost her mother and was subsequently orphaned. She recently moved to that school when she was placed in foster care.

I really don’t want to hear any more excuses about this being totally fine because of her behavior. Cause get this… I have teenager girls and they roll their eyes and talk snotty and tell me, “Whatever,” under their breath and don’t do what I ask sometimes. They are good kids who have never been in any trouble with the law or even the school. Not even a detention. I raise them as well as I can and they still get pissy-ass teenage attitudes. From all I’ve read, this is a growth and hormonal teenage thing and it’s normal. And my kids aren’t half as bad as so many out there. I’m often shocked at the behavior of the privileged and popular (and white) kids that I run into with photography or kid’s sports. There is some real nastiness out there in the teens. They are hormonal and they act out.

This girl wasn’t a threat. No one needed protection from her. So what that “safety officer” did is assault. He is supposedly highly trained to diffuse situations, to handle children carefully, especially when they act out. This is his job.  Truly. His job.

So why was this guy (with a seasoned history of inappropriate behavior) in a freaking school? And since when do we call the police when a kid won’t put down a phone. How about the teacher just ignored her ass? Let her sit there and Twitter and not listen. Really. What’s the harm in that? Take her aside after and explain the consequences. Give her an F for the day, give her make-up work, or give her detention. But I can’t imagine needing to call the police EVERY time someone refuses to set down their cell phone. How would anyone get anything done?

If I called the police every time one of my kids didn’t listen to me I’d have to hire one full-time.

And if I did what that officer did to one of my kids for their bad behavior, I’d be in jail. Just like that officer should be.

Some Thoughts Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I’ve been working on this post since yesterday, but the kids and my life keep pulling me away. And sometimes I have to stop myself from waiting until something is “perfect” before I post it. I have to remember it’s more important to speak our own truth than it is to do it perfectly. This is true for all of us.

This year, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day felt especially important to me. As I look around at this world that we live in and the way things have been going in terms of racial prejudice, injustice and poverty, I feel Dr. King’s words and his message are more important than ever. And eerily, they still ring so very true today.

Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.  MLK

 

Black lives matter. We’ve all heard this recently. It actually started in 2012 after Trayvon Martin’s murder, and has become a movement to bring light into the darkness about the number of black lives taken by the police.  But I wonder if people really know that. Because now, everywhere I turn, I hear an argument of sorts that states, “All lives matter,” as if “Black lives matter,” made someone feel left out.

Of course all lives matter. That isn’t even up for debate.  But I don’t get shot in my home and neither do my children. And it is safe to walk on the streets of our neighborhood and to go to our grocery store at any time of day or night.  Life is different here in small town (white) America. Here, there is a general safety and assumption that our lives matter. But that isn’t true in Ferguson, or in a very large section of Milwaukee, or Chicago, or Detroit, or countless other places in this country.

In those places, life is different. Where there is no money, there is a systematic segregation. Yes, that is the right word. Segregation, just like Dr. King talked about so many years ago. Only this legal and it’s allowed. (Not unlike what Hitler did was legal, and allowed). You don’t believe there is segregation? Take a drive down Hwy 41  just off the interstate by the gleaming Miller Park. The road says, “Freeway Ends” and you will spend 20 minutes in another world. That is segregation.

I can’t breathe. You might say, “That guy had it coming to him. The police were only doing their jobs. They don’t harass people unless they deserve it. And it was ruled justified.” But 11 times that man said, “I can’t breathe.”

What if you got into a disagreement with an officer? I know, that would never happen to you. But theorize with me for a moment here and imagine it happening to you. Let’s call it a misunderstanding. Do you think that he would put you in a choke hold? Even after you told him 11 times that you couldn’t breathe? Right out in public, in broad daylight, until you died? Do you see that as any kind of remote possibility in your life, or your town?

We live in a different world. You don’t see it because you aren’t looking, not to mention that it’s tucked away. If you are looking and you do see it, then you’re mad as hell that this goes on in the country you call your own. Which means you are already part of the movement.

4 ½ hours. If you were shot, would your body lay out in the street of you neighborhood for 4 ½ hours? Would that be allowed? Would someone come up with an excuse trying to make it alright?

How about this… Do you have to fear the police because of how you look? Not who you are or what you’ve done, but how you look?  You don’t believe it? I’ll tell you who to ask. Ask a white mother who has adopted black sons. Ask her when she starts to train her sons on how NOT to provoke the police in any way. She’ll tell you the danger is real for all black boys turning into men and that they need to understand this before puberty to protect themselves.

I’m not saying that all police are bad, or even the majority of them. In fact, I have some wonderful friends who are police officers that I trust totally and I am so thankful for the service they provide. Some of them even go so far as to mentor kids in the inner city and are doing all they can to help. I believe that most police are doing a good job. But in order to keep that profession honest and justified, we have to punish those that abuse their powers and do harm unnecessarily, on purpose or not. But that is not happening. And that is the part that allows a creeping darkness to wrap itself around the profession itself and undermine the good that police can do. We need to recognize and correct the holes within that system.

And then there is the media. They are bought and paid for, and they are selling you whatever they are told to sell you by their owners, and I don’t just mean things you buy with your money. It isn’t truth they are selling though. There may be a smidge of honesty here or there, but there are never two sides represented. They are brain washing you to get you to do and say and believe and buy whatever they want. And in doing so, are able to get most people to forget about anything else. And it’s working. We talk about the Packers and the weather and Duck Dynasty. But poverty? We blame for that. We judge that. Or we ignore that. Hungry children, we place blame and ignore and we talk about a football game. Really, that is what we do. We spend lots of time on imaginary things and say we have no time or money to help with important things.

I probably sound like a conspiracy theorist, only I’m not. I’m someone trying to shed a light on the darkness.  I’m someone who went to college for journalism and is very, very good at research. And I’m telling you, the media is not telling you the truth, and certainly not the whole truth. You have to look deeper to find it, and we have turned into a lazy society who wants it spoon fed to us. They know that, too.

Did you know? “The typical nightly newscast often depicts people of color only via negative images of black men in handcuffs and Latinos invading our borders.” (http://www.freepress.net/diversity-media-ownership)

Or… 90% of all media in America is owned by 6 corporations. And you know what corporations are, right? They are those entities out there trying to get us to buy things. Things like medicine and clothing and beauty supplies and assumptions. But since there are only 6 of them, we basically only get a couple peoples point of view, and we’re taught to treat them as truth. And we do. We trust in the NBC’s and the FOX’s stamped on their foreheads and we let them tell us it’s okay if we just go buy that car because the poor aren’t working hard enough anyway. And besides, our country doesn’t have any money to help anyone right now.

God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty. – MLK

The fact that the government has no money? Guess what. That’s a lie too. Our military budget is $640 billion dollars this year. JUST THIS YEAR.  There is not a country in the world (IN THE WORLD) that has a military budget that is even 10 percent of that. Which means we are either spending our money very, very unwisely or we don’t need to have a budget that large. What if we cut it in half? We’d still have a significantly larger military budget and be way bigger and stronger than ANYONE else, but we’d have $320 billion dollars to spend elsewhere. $320 billion dollars for schools, to pay teachers, to feed children. To send people to college or help folks earn a living wage, to assist the veterans so scarred from serving this country. To get help for the homeless. To improve the inner cities and give them the funds to get their feet on some solid ground for once and have a chance at a real education from day one. To take care of the elderly, so many of whom live in poverty. Cause you know what? $320 billion dollars would go a very long way.

Or how about this?

“A study released today from Oxfam reports that the richest 1 percent in the world are on the verge of controlling more than half of the globe’s total wealth. Already the richest 80 people in the world together own $1.9 trillion, which is just about as much as is owned by the 3.5 billion people in the bottom half of the world put together.” (Robert Reich)

There is a revolution coming, my friends. You can’t have such inequality without the force of that snapping the structure. This country is at a tipping point, so many of our people poor and oppressed, working hard but not making enough to even pay for necessities. There is hatred in hearts and so many who refuse to see, too comfortable in their own warm home and decent incomes to risk looking outside. But this revolution is coming, nonetheless. We will wake up one way or another, whether we look inside ourselves and travel outside our comfort zone and jostle ourselves from our own slumber, or we get shaken out of this sleep by the power and force of change. Either way, this country has been asleep too long. It’s just a matter of time.

We are all one people. Really. We are. Don’t believe that we are all so different. It’s just another lie they are telling us.

There are things that give me hope. Like all the people posting about Martin Luther King, Jr. this week, who realize that the injustice he fought so hard for (and died for) is still not over. Who are all still touched by his words and his dream.

The only way to change the world is one little movement at a time. A Facebook status, a conversation, a blog post, a person deciding to march and help raise awareness (and that ends up with 50,000 marching, but it took each and every single person to decide to do that to tally up to 50,000).

Martin Luther King, Jr. is still speaking. I have heard his words ringing out all over the internet this week. I’m listening, and now so are you….