The Seven Year Old, The Police Officers, and the Edible Christmas Tree (a Tragedy) Part One
Today, my seven-year-old son was escorted out of school with two Hampton Police officers at his back because I called Ann Stephens Cherry a bitch.
Today, he has a lifelong memory of at one point making an edible Christmas tree with his mom, then being escorted by THE POLICE out of school.
What is there to say? Over a year ago, Ann Cherry acted like a pure toddler, making veiled comments to antagonize, belittle and demean. Her haughty posturing, not even respecting mask protocols by the district, sucked all of the air out of the room. Her bombastic comments, noticed by everyone who was present, showed all of her intentions on the surface — I was not wanted there. Even individuals who had no relationship with me could feel her wrath. Then, she said the words that should follow her: Speaking before the school board is a privilege, not a right. Ann Cherry does not want to hear what ANY OF US have to say. At that point, I got angry.
“Is that a threat?”
“Ma’am, you need to be quiet.”
“Ma’am, you need to respectfully answer my question.”
After she shushed me during the public comment period, I lost my cool. I said the words “Fucking bitch,” while leaving the school board meeting, AGAIN, by police escort.
Combined with the walkout that my daughter planned, they issued a blanket, “You’re banned from all of Hampton City Schools,” giving bullshit requirements expecting me to “Kiss the ring.” The request was made because they know I won’t do it. They know I will NOT say I’m sorry for something that honestly, I meant. I won’t say I’m sorry to someone who chose to act like a geriatric toddler from the school board dais. I won’t. I won’t. I won’t.
The instruction was to provide notice, which I did. But at the end of the day, whoever was associated with Ann Cherry or Rick mason or whoever else that is on the school board, the concern was about me — not with my seven-year-old son. Not with the little black boy who will have a memory etched in his mind of being escorted out of his elementary school by men with guns.
Hampton City Schools has a credo of “Every child. Every Day. Whatever It Takes.’ But that credo has caveats. It’s circumvented with “Except when it comes toward doing things that are outside of our political narrative.” It comes with restrictions that have nothing to do with our children and EVERYTHING to do with adults. What was my son’s crime (or my crime) that required two police officers at his back? Walking to my car as the school had not brought my son to the front door, the police officers yelled at me: “Do you have your son?” Damned straight I have my son. And my daughter who was raped in a Hampton City Schools bathroom. I have ALL THREE of my children, as I have all of the kids in our city who have been victims of a school system that cares more about statistics than they care about children. The gaps are glaring — what will our children lose due to the egos of the adults who are supposed to make decisions to make and keep them whole?
Dr. Richard Mason pontificates about mental health in Hampton City Schools, while sitting on his ivory tower, unwilling to commit billable hours to children in HCS who might need the help of a therapist. What about Warren? If he didn’t have parents that could refocus his armed escort out of his elementary school, what would his thoughts be going forward about police officers? Up until this moment, his police interactions had been limited. But now he knows that if his mom goes to a school function (that she RSVPed to well in advance per the protocols of this bullshit ban), he’ll be escorted out of his school by men with guns. If his mom takes him to school, he’ll be escorted from school by men with guns. The trauma that we exert over our young black boys is a tragedy that the leadership of Hampton City Schools bleeds crimson all over our city. Our school leadership does not care about our children — they only care about padded statistics and bravado that makes our city lose.
There is a point where have to refocus anger into action. What can be done about this? I’m not sure. Maybe this is just a vent. Maybe we need to have non-uniformed police in our schools so that our kids NEVER experience what my son experienced today. Maybe we need to not have open-ended bans on parents who did not commit violent actions. Maybe we need to hold our school system accountable at each step and make strides to actually make Hampton City Schools live up to its motto. There are so many things….
But the first thing we need to do is show up at school board meetings and NEVER BACK DOWN. Never back down on doing what’s right for our children. Never back down on making sure that our children actually learn and aren’t pushed through a system like cookies on a conveyor belt. Never back down on the expectation that our school leadership care more about our children than they care about their egos. Unfortunately, I am limited by much of what is listed above but I count on each of you to be my surrogate. Say what’s right when the people in power don’t want you to because,…because it’s what we have to do for our children.
It’s what we are supposed to do for our children. Point blank.
To read Part Two, visit here.