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Heads In The Sand: My Thoughts On The SC Classroom Incident

Ok, so first of all let me say for all who haven’t heard the news; Officer Fields has been fired. And rightly so. He deserved no less. It was excessive force that did NOT fit the situation. But I have one observation to put out there guys, and this is just my opinion. I even put it in a blog post so you wouldn’t have to see it if you don’t want to.

After all, that seems to be our approach to every encounter we have with law enforcement. We simply see what we want to see and bury our heads in the sand for the rest of it. You know, the part WE played.

We as a people have a really hard time assigning or even acknowledging any accountability for the decisions and actions WE take that often lead to these incidents. We wont talk about it and we don’t want anyone else to.

And that puzzles me, because we all had basically the same upbringing. We were taught right from wrong. If we did wrong we were dealt with. If we got to trippin’ and did something stupid or disrespectful, and that action caused problems for us then we had to deal with them. There were no excuses or justifications made. Oh, you acted up in school and your teacher whooped your ass? Good. Here’s ANOTHER one for disrespecting your teacher. I mean y’all know that.

So then why now, in this climate we’re in, do we have such a problem acknowledging when we were dead wrong? Why do we refuse to even entertain any level of accountability for OUR actions and the role they play in so many of these incidents?

I wonder if we think that holding our people accountable for the part they play in these situations somehow suggests that we agree with the actions of the authorities. I mean, is that it? If I say this young lady was blatantly breaking the rules, completely defiant in every way and THOSE actions lead to an officer being called in the first place, does that mean I automatically agree with the actions of the officer? Of course not! He lost his mind. And rightfully, his job in the process.

But that must be what we think. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense to me that we would be that blind. It doesn’t make sense that we can’t see the FACT that if the young lady simply follows the rules in school, just like WE were taught- if she gives up her phone when asked the first time- heck, even the 3rd time- then nobody is called, the deputy never comes in and none of this happens.

We’re all intelligent enough to be able to see that. But when common sense statements like that are made we start yelling things like “you’re blaming the victim” and “I don’t care what she did it doesn’t make what HE did ok!”

I mean absolutely it doesn’t! Tell me when anyone ANYWHERE has ever said that.  No, her actions do NOT justify his. But without her actions his actions don’t exist. And that’s the absolute, undeniable, unsavory truth we won’t talk about. That’s the role she played, and without it none of this exists.

Sadly though, what we’re seeing in this situation is the same “head in the sand” mentality that keeps us from doing what our parents did to us. “You did it so now that’s what you get. There are consequences for everything you do. You did that so now you sit yo ass in jail.”

And because accountability and holding our own responsible- making people own what they did that caused what they got- is a lost art now, we keep seeing these incidents over and over again. See our parents used to SAY that to us. Heck we said it to OUR kids. But now that’s a lost art. Now no matter what happen, no matter what led up to the incident, we lay 100% of the blame ANYwhere but us. Yet with all this coverage and all this video and all this proof that many times we’re just straight up FORCING many simple routine incidents to be escalated,  nobody knows why they keep happening. You can call that blaming the victim if you want to. Whatever keeps your head in the sand.

And that would be such a cool place to throw up my hands and say “Goodnight everybody!” But I can’t close this without one more question: Would it surprise you to know that many of the students-you know, the young, black students- that were IN that classroom that day support the actions of Officer Fields? Does it seem odd to anyone but me that nobody in the classroom was protesting or showing any outrage while this terrible incident was happening? Heck, not even one person yelled out “WOOOLRD STARRRR!!” Would that change in any way how you see this whole thing?

Too uncomfortable, I know. If we say that we say we agree with the officer. So we just keep acting like we didn’t see any of the stuff we did. But I’m one who needs to wake up, hunh?

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3 Responses to Heads In The Sand: My Thoughts On The SC Classroom Incident

  1. David says:

    Real talk. I’m never going to be a co-signer or enabler of BS. So I will continue to bump heads with people on stuff like this.

  2. Frenchell Scott says:

    I truly believe in this incident, everyone’s feelings are valid. Those that are geared more towards the actions of the officer, VALID. Then there are those who feel as you feel Ron, also VALID.
    Now out of all the post I’ve read on this incident, I don’t believe anyone has stated that the young lady played NO PART in what went on. Obviously she did, otherwise the officer wouldn’t have been called. Now in reference to your comment about the other students in the class that CHOSE NOT to intervene, I can’t say that I saw that as them agreeing with the events that were taking place right before them. Could it also have been that maybe (just maybe) the other students were afraid? Maybe they assumed that if they got involved they too would receive the same punishment. Who knows? I wasn’t there so I can’t assume either way what/how the other students were feeling at that time.

    The two individuals involved were the officer and the student. So let’s address it from BOTH sides….

    The officer:
    Ok so WE ALL agree that the officer was wrong. PERIOD! No if, ands or buts about it… He was just wrong!!!

    Only God knows what happened before the incident started being recorded. I (an I can only speak for myself) place the majority of the responsibility on the officer. To me HE was the determining factor on how this situation ended. By him being the ADULT and “supposedly” the wiser one in this issue, I believe he could’ve utilized a different approach in handling this matter.

    The student:
    (DEEP BREATHE)…. Ok, so when I initially saw the video my first thought was… “Well dang what did SHE do to make him respond to her the way he did?” Not being oblivious to the fact that she had to have played a role in all of this for something of that magnitude to happen. So THEN we find out that the girl RECENTLY (as in a couple of days prior) lost her mother and had been placed in foster care.

    Now……… She had JUST lost her MOMMA…. Ron I’m not trying to justify what she did and/or didn’t do. But come on now let’s be real….. If you’re 16, your mother is now dead and you’re living in a house full of strangers. I can ONLY IMAGINE how/what she must’ve been feeling at that point.
    I blame the school too, surely they had been notified of this tragedy so why not contact a counselor, SOMEBODY that could’ve possibly intervened on her behalf. So idk, my heart goes out to her… First the death of her mother, then she’s placed in foster care….. An now THIS!!!! All of this is going on so surely she’s going to lash out. Where is the help for the child?

    I just feel that there are so many unknown facts about this that one can’t truly make a clear analysis of what could’ve, should’ve or would’ve happened. But what I DO know is that that child is grieving and in pain, she was (and is still) feeling SO MANY emotions and so much anger that it’s unimaginable.

    So how bout we focus our attention on what needs to happen FOR HER moving forward, instead of debating about what we “think” happened, HOW we think it happened and who started it…. We KNOW how it started, we KNOW how it ended, so what do we do NOW??????

    • roncross says:

      Hey Frenchell!

      I really enjoyed your comments. Thanks so much for taking the time. You are right when you say that everyone is entitled to their opinion on this matter and any other matter for that matter. But while we’re talking about one incident in particular, I think it’s important that I explain that what I’m describing here is something I see many of us as Black people doing in every encounter we have with law enforcement.

      Quite simply, we just don’t want to assign any blame or talk at all about the role we play in these incidents. I understand that this young lady had some tough breaks recently and they could have all played a role in her actions. But is that the case in every single incident where we see our people blatantly breaking rules or refusing to comply with even the most simple of requests? It isn’t. And all i’m really trying to put out there for consideration is that almost every situation a starting point, and then an escalation point.

      Many times, unfortunately, it is a simple interaction that ends up being almost deliberately escalated by people refusing to comply with very simple commands. Im talking about people who are asked to simply show their ID, but instead refuse to do so and then the issue escalates. Or people who struggle with officers and run, then the situation takes an ugly turn. Or people who were caught breaking the law, the situation escalates.

      In these incidents it seems clear to me that the escalation would have never happened at all had it not been for decisions we made to refuse or not respect authority. Or to not break laws. And here’s what bothers me about that.

      You see the more we refuse to assign any blame or accountability in these situations the more we make socially acceptable to keep doing it. So we aren’t doing our people-especially our youth-any favors when we coddle wrong-doing and blame everyone but them for what happened. Look at the state of schools now. Kids aren’t any worse today than they were when we were children, so what’s the difference?

      Well, we made punishment in schools illegal. We don’t want anyone in school touching our kids, so teachers aren’t able to spank kids anymore. So teachers have lost all authority in the class room.

      See everyone keeps talking about the fact that the officer should never have been called. That the teachers or administrative staff should have done something. But we took all that power away. Today’s youth know very well that they can do whatever they want in school and there isn’t a thing a teacher can do. So the attitude now is “turn down for what?” Even if a student decides to attack a teacher he knows that if the teacher retaliates not only will the teacher be reprimanded or lose his job, but the whole of society will lay the entire weight of the blame on the teacher and not the student who attacked him.

      You’ll see people saying things like the teacher should have known better. The teacher is a professional. The teacher is an adult. You won’t hear many people talking at all about what should be done to the child for having attacked a teacher.

      The more we make accountability a taboo subject in our dealings with authority the more people will believe they can do whatever they want to do because whatever happens the authority will take all the blame. And until we start having conversations about these incidents that discuss not only what the officer did wrong but what the student-or adult-or whomever- did wrong then we will continue to see more and more situations where people push simple situations to escalation, and then come out of it all feeling like some kind of a hero, with no incentive not to do the same thing in his/her next interaction with the police. Only next time they may end up shot.

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