White supremacy is real. White supremacy harms. White supremacy kills.
I taught for 7 years in North Lawndale and 4 years in East Garfield Park. During that time I listened to the testimony of Black students who were unfairly targeted by police on more occasions than I can count. I witnessed police officers in the community and inside the school building treat students disrespectfully, physically handling them in ways that wouldn’t be appropriate for an adult, let alone a child.
I remember one fight at school. It wasn’t a good situation – one student got so angry he tore my colleague’s classroom apart. But our school leaders and student Peace Warriors were handling it. We were getting things calmed down.
The police were called. They didn’t send counselors. They didn’t send someone to help defuse the situation. They sent a group of officers with vests and guns. They sent officers dressed all in black, large in size, with biceps you’d expect on professional athletes. They sent officers ready to physically engage with our children. I remember one in particular, flexing his hands, dancing back and forth on the balls of his feet, looking past me at the classroom where the students were talking with the dean.
I won’t repeat the words I heard them say. But I think about this event, and others, all the time. What were the officers planning to do? How would they have handled the situation if staff and teachers hadn’t been there, between them and the students? If our brilliant security guards hadn’t calmed the students and the officers?
When the police left, our counselors, the dean, the principal, and other community members helped calm the situation down. We helped my colleague set up his room again. Property had been damaged, but what is property next to human life? Why worry about physical objects when it is flesh and blood that matters?
The police as they are currently structured are a tool of white supremacy. The system prioritizes White people at the expense of Black people.
White people: Listen when people say they are being harmed. Believe Black people.