Students that they interviewed for the news even said that yes, the issues are racial. However, those same kids – our future community leaders – also said that the issues are not rational, that it makes no sense to carry on this way, in this day and age.
It appears to me that the students have got the problem figured out. The tensions are racial. They need to be dealt with.
To me, that says that some of these students want help. They don’t know how to solve these problems on their own; the tension builds, tempers flare, text messages start flying and then there is blood, police and mayhem.
Instead of having them traumatized by threats of more violence or idiotic thoughts of superiority, class or intolerance, get some leaders in there! Not the local constabulary, and not the bloody parents or community members ready to build a wall around these kids and isolate them from one another. Real leaders. The kids have leaders among them; involve them and also include people the kids will listen to as well. People that understand the problems, and can help bring real peace and security to that community.
Why are we not raising them to read, write and articulate? Why are we not raising them with a commitment to respect and community. Why are they not, after all this time, coming closer together instead of still feeling divided. Give them a CAUSE WORTH FIGHTING FOR like poverty, racism or unemployment instead of one another. Lead them to healthy ways of expressing their frustration with one another. Bring people in who have seen and survived genocide, war and insurrection. Show them that they are not alone, but that there are ways to survive and thrive. Get this sorted out and help these young people live to be old people.
Blye Frank from Dalhousie University completed an intensive study in 1997 and made a raft of recommendations on how to resolve the problems. Most of the recommendations were never addressed or only partially implemented. Not enough money? Raising kids out of the abyss of racial tension not sexy enough to spend the money that is needed? Not noteworthy enough come election time? Give me a break. You cannot argue that the money isn’t there. I’m sure if you calculated the actual costs of what has happened to that school and the community in the last 11 years or so, it has been staggering compared to what could have been.
It seems as though the board is trying, the principal and staff are doing their best, and the police step in whenever they are called. But it doesn’t get rid of the problems because those responses are not able to really get at what is under the surface. They cannot do enough for what is underneath the surface where we bury racism, illiteracy, poverty and try to hide it under a smoke screen of shame. It really pisses me off that we support kids in foreign countries so that they can eat, go to school and develop skills for the future, but we try to forget that our own kids, and these are our own kids folks, we try to forget that our own kids in our own schools, aren’t worth helping.
Shame on us.
Pam Robertson, Ph.D.