As I sit in the corner of a corridor in KIPP Infinity Elementary School, a heaviness consumes me.
A KIPP parent’s life has been taken senselessly because he was described as a “bad dude.” Can anyone tell me what a “bad dude” looks like?
Terence Crutcher was a black man, a father of four, one of them a sixth grader in a KIPP school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As I struggle to write this blog, I know how important it is to reach out to other KIPP parents in our time of grief. You see, KIPP is a team of families all across this nation. We strive for excellence not just for ourselves but for our children as well. I say to my fellow parents, stay involved and get into action as we endure all of the many nuances that parents of color have to face.
The conflict between policing and civility is so mind-boggling. We teach our children to respect those that are paid by our tax dollars to serve and protect us and yet on a daily basis we have to explain to our children why black men and woman are being hurt or killed. Try explaining to a kindergarten child, fresh into this world, why people kill. Try explaining to a fifth-grader why white policeman get away with murder. I know fifth-graders think that they are smarter than us but these daily doses of violence damage their well-being.
I chose a KIPPNYC charter school because of the humane factor they place into their culture. On Friday, September 23d, KIPPNYC’s superintendent Jim Manly called for a moment of silence throughout the entire network at 9 AM. He also instructed his leadership teams to provide a new language for our lower grades so they could get a gist of what’s happening and additional counseling for the upper grades to ask any pressing questions they may have.
I don’t care what grade levels these kids are on but I know one question rang out for all: but why!!!???
As an adult I’m still swirling with questions. I can give a few reasons perhaps but it’s all inconclusive. We are all learning how to navigate through our anger, sorrow, and disbelief. One fifth-grader from KIPP Infinity Middle School called out to get many kids his age involved in social justice for all, so they can stay awake and stand up for what is right: one unified front. Provide yourself with positive outlets for you to not only be in the know, but be of the know.
“At ten years old,” he said, “I am aware that the justice system is not just.”
Parents, are we going to allow our fallen parent to die senselessly or are we going to stay steadfast in our children’s life and teach them we are all of this earth as God made us to be?
Our KIPP students are speaking of well wishes to the Crutcher family and asking why we all just can’t get along. I love when the educational system can adjust their views about examinations and absences to show a day of solidarity to our fallen parent.
To the Crutcher family on Friday as I sat in my same position at 9 AM there was nothing stirring inside the hallways of KIPP Infinity Elementary School. Usually there is pitter-patter of feet of children or adults alike; conversations about which students are going to need additional supportive services today; breakfast carts carrying off the breakfast cold bags; transferring of students from homerooms to specialty classes; students and parents running late giving their last goodbyes to each other; parents meeting up and discussing the course of their day; the loud chants of KIPP instructional learning for school etiquette from their finest teachers; students walking by giving me the peace sign even though they are clueless why I sit in this corner of their corridor.
And then it’s me tip-tapping away on the very computer I am using now to tell you about it the glorious motion from us all here at KIPPNYC. As one parent to the next, let’s take heed that life is precious and not always promised to us whether it is our hands or God’s hands. Me and my son, a KIPP Infinity Middle School Student, act to secure the rights of life to all. Our educational system as you see does not have to fail us or be disastrous if we just unify. I loudly applaud KIPPNYC’s Jim Manly for just one of many the kindest gestures of humanity I have witnessed since we were enrolled into the KIPP network for the 2011-2012 school year ( as i wrote in my first blog). I’m glad in my heart and spirit that we chose KIPP.