The One Story: HBCUs And The Gatekeeping Of Black Culture
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A Kansas teacher used her words for evil against a young Black student recently.

Malachi Pearson, a 10-year-old fourth-grade student at Rosehill Elementary School in the town of Lenexa was told by an unidentified teacher last week that he would be shot by cops when he turned 16 years old. She also told Pearson, who was playing with a friend at the time, that being shot would be his fault, Kansas City’s Fox 4 News reported.

The horrible incident is one of the latest examples of how Black boys and girls are criminalized in their schools. What happened to Pearson also goes to show how some people use privilege to hurt people of color.

Pearson, who was just seven months old when someone shot and killed his father in Kansas City, was extremely hurt by the teacher’s hateful words.

”I’m crying because it’s sad that my daddy died when I was a baby,” the boy said to Fox 4 Tuesday.

The teacher’s language was so offensive and patronizing but also potentially damaging for a child of color to hear. Her statements were the kind that can stick with a child as he or she grows into adulthood: when the child becomes a teen and goes to college, applies for a job, has a child of their own and more experiences. Hateful comments that seek to criminalize Black youth also can influence how that African-American child-turned-adolescent or adult may interact with a police officer. It is that kind of hateful messaging that can get, and has gotten, people killed. Period.

Yet, the school had not properly addressed the issue, at least to the point that Pearson feels safe. The teacher was put on leave, Mahogany Foster, the boy’s mom, said. The school opened an investigation, too, an official said, however. But that wasn’t enough for Foster, who pulled her son out of the school because of this teacher, who likely may not be trusted to instruct children of color again.

”It’s unbelievable that she would say that to my son,” Foster said. “I’m so vexed by the whole thing. I never take sides, but I know for a fact that Malachi, he’s a respectful child, so for somebody to say that to a respectful child, I feel that was a low bloc and that was something personal. You shouldn’t say that to any child.”


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