The debate surrounding the state of school security following last week’s deadly massacre in Florida has increasingly turned to arming teachers and police alike on school grounds. However, were that to happen, the already high chances of Black students receiving the unjustified brunt of the scrutiny would likely increase despite data showing they are the least likely suspects for such school violence.
There is almost assuredly going to be a school security crackdown from coast-to-coast, with a New Jersey school district already announcing that it voted to add armed police to its school buildings.
Regardless of how teachers feel about having guns not only on school grounds but also in their classrooms, statistics have long proven that people of color are always among the the first to be suspected by officials of any relevant wrongdoing.Likewise, law enforcement has repeatedly shown there is no sense of urgency when a potential suspect is White. Beyond that, though, there are clear racial disparities in school discipline that lopsidedly affect Black students, according to statistics reported by the Brookings Institute.
Those disparities would probably only be exacerbated by putting guns in the hands of teachers and police stationed at schools, since the objective would be to prevent mass shootings, for which White people are responsible more than half of the time. Fifty-four percent of mass shootings in the U.S. are committed by White people compared to 16 percent of Black people, according data compiled by to Statista from 1982-2017. Those numbers skewed even more in favor of the former once it was revealed the Parkland shooter was White, as well.
As if those statistics weren’t damning enough, we haven’t even gotten to the fact that institutional racism has plagued the education system for centuries. “Racism in schools has serious consequences—from fueling the school-to-prison pipeline to traumatizing children of color,” ThoughtCo. wrote earlier this month.
The combination of the above three factors along with the predisposed bias teachers, school administrators and law enforcement have routinely displayed against Black students in particular makes the thought of giving these same teachers and police guns in schools all the more troubling.
Of course law enforcement’s primary objective is to protect and serve, but for so many years — hundreds of years, in fact — Black people have been on the wrong end of the so-called justice system. That trend, which is still flourishing to this day, extends to schools, where White teachers and law enforcement have been known to get so mad at Black students that they will either physically harm them or illegally restrain them regardless of whether there has been a violation of school policy.
Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley summed it up perfectly: “… America continues to allow [mass shootings] because [the shooters] are white … because you can be damn sure that if these shootings had been done by black males, there would be calls to round all up the young black men across the country until we could determine what was wrong with them — or until we, the collective we, which means the white we, felt safe.”
It’s high time for so-called solutions that don’t continue to harm Black students.