Every evening, we ask our boys to tell us something interesting they learned at school. On Friday, one of our sons shared he learned about a great man named Martin Luther King Jr. When I inquired what he had specifically learned, my five year old son replied, “He wrote a long speech. He told people that black and white people should be able to eat at the same restaurant. He said black and white people are equal. But Mommy, I don’t know what black and white people being equal means.”
I explained to my son, that he, a black child, should be treated the same way as a white child or a child of any color.
When I asked his twin brother what he had learned at school he just shrugged his shoulders. After much prompting, he told me he too learned about MLK Jr., but he could not provide any specifics.
When Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech” in Washington D.C. he said, “One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.” My son who frequently shrugs his shoulders when I ask him what he has learned at school each day, has felt like an exile at school. A few months into the school year he told me he was afraid he was going to get kicked out of school forever.
Why would a kindergartner who just began his education have this fear? He, along with many other black males in Indiana and across the nation, has been kicked out of class.
Although, we are years past Brown v. the Board of Education, when separate schools were declared unconstitutional, our minority children are being separated from their peers by being excluded from the classroom and suspended at disproportional rates. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education released 2013-14 suspension data which revealed one in five black boys were suspended. In Indiana, the number was higher, one in four black boys.
Read the rest of this post by Shawnta Barnes at Indy Ed.