Jamala Rogers

While meeting at the popular MoKaBe's Coffeehouse, I came across a button that struck my eye. It read “Black Kids’ Lives Matter.” Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. I promptly bought five of them.

I thought about the button slogan when I reviewed the recent "Children of Metropolitan St. Louis Report." The report has been published bi-annually by Vision for Children at Risk (VCR) since 1991. The data is based on 40 indicators grouped into six fundamental needs. These are Family Support, Early Childhood Development, Maternal and Children Health, Quality Education, Youth Development and Safe Neighborhoods and Strong Communities. The data is available by zip code for St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County. Across the river, it picks up Madison and St. Clair counties.

In the City of St. Louis, over 40 percent of children live below the poverty line. In Madison County, Illinois, one of five children live in poverty. These are not good indicators for future success.

The operative word in VCR's agency name is "Risk," so you can conclude that African-American children are most at risk. The report for the tenth time illustrates the wide and deep disparities and racial inequities in the region between white, affluent areas and black, poor areas.

This is not news for those of us in the child-developing arena. The same quality-of-life assessments have been made in other reports. For the Sake of All. Kids Count Data Book. Missouri Budget Project. Annie E. Casey Race for Results Report. Forward Through Ferguson. The list goes on.

The obstacles that black children confront in this country can’t be told only through indexes although indicators like poverty are too powerful to ignore. Our young and most vulnerable can’t escape the anti-blackness that is rampant and destructive in this country.

Every day, I am observing the psychological and spiritual demise of our black children. They are being beat down before they even have a chance to grow and prosper. The sparkle evaporates from their little eyes before they start school. Their adorable smiles are replaced with furrowed frowns. Their open hearts become calloused over time in the hostile and high-maintenance environment where racism lives. The trauma is undeniable.

Black kids have become the canary in the coalmine of this moribund society. They are screaming for attention. They are fighting for their lives. Most times, it is without sufficient adult support and compassion.

If we apply the same wisdom from the Black Lives Matter mantra to black kids – that no lives matter until black lives matter – then we must start earlier with putting safeguards in place that a promote healthy and holistic trajectory from childhood to adulthood.

This means no more criminalizing of black children and implementing laws and policies that cripple their development, like making school fights a felony.

If we follow the directives of Forward Through Ferguson, we must put children at the center and use a racial lens to ensure we're working in the best interests of Black kids. All the reports are clear: Right now, we are working against the best interests of black kids and their families.

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mzmardyshata

Funny, I just purchased mine today. As a mom, a woman of color and educator, I want to assure them that this is “not jussa” button but I CAN, I WILL AND I MUST ASSURE that it becomes truth, but deep down I feel helpless and hopeless because I really can’t.

I penned this for the month of “GIVING THANKS” I ask you and others to just, REMEMBER THEM!

Reflecting on my students and children of color across America whose Thanksgiving “season” will not be FILLED WITH NEITHER GIVING, THANKS NOR FOOD.

REMEMBER THEM!

Children in our poor BLACK community are given such a hard, difficult and unjust start intentionally, purposefully, knowingly and willfully and to me it is just down right, IMMORAL AND INHUMANE.

REMEMBER THEM!

But yet, these SAME children have proven time and time and time again that they are brilliant, resilient, resourceful, compassionate, energized, empathetic, radiant, and driven IN SPITE OF having nothing and being counted out, they are the reason I HAVE NOT stopped going into the classrooms, they teach me as I learn from them.

REMEMBER THEM!

I am proud of these young people that I have the opportunity and honor to speak into and over their lives. I AM THE SUBSTITUTE EDUCATORS HATE, I DO MY OWN THING, I CARE, WE ALWAYS HAVE FUN AND I TEACH OUR HISTORY AND HOW WE HAVE MADE THIS COUNTRY WHAT IT IS.

We are quickly coming upon our last day of school for this holiday season and a great deal of my students will face hunger, fear, loneliness, depression, and a sense of feeling unloved and unwanted EVEN WHEN PARENTS ARE WORKING HARD AND LONG FOR THEM because school is their SAFE PLACE, the ONLY SAFE PLACE for a lot of our students to get the nurturing home just can't provide or don't know how to provide.

REMEMBER THEM!

School is a place to "block it all out" their REALITY that is.

REMEMBER THEM!

As you go through the hustle and bustle of preparing for family and friends to gather and reflect over the year and count your blessings......

REMEMBER THEM!

The song says, "'Tis The Season To Be Jolly!"

In the bible, it says in everything there is a SEASON.

Season? Seasons come and go but really it is a CHOICE TO DAILY SHOW: LOVE, SUPPORT, LOVE, A GIVING SPIRIT, LOVE, SOMEONE YOU CARE BY A VISIT, LOVE, A SHARING HEAR, LOVE, A CARING SPIRIT AND LOVE. (I have GOT to get better at this with my OWN family)

Feeding the hungry should not be a season or BIG PRODUCTION but our MORAL RESPONSIBILITY.

Assuring children will have ALL of their necessities MET should not be a season but a GODLY RESPONSIBILITY.

Children living in safe, clean and resource filled communities should not cause for a PAT ON THE BACK and tax write offs at year's end but COMMUNITY!

These children tug at me because I didn't understand the viciousness of this wicked system and the importance of this viciousness to be perpetuated because it is PROFITABLE off of the backs of innocent, ignorant, naïve, impoverished and disengaged BLACKS.

It is NOT a toy to open up on Christmas Day that they want MORE than anything but love, dignity, love, inclusion, love, acceptance, love, dignity, love, options, love, resources, love, employment, love to be self sufficient, love, respect, love, protection, love, healthy living, love, healthy eating, love, high quality education and love DAILY is the ultimate wish.

REMEMBER THEM....

Students who have no family
Students who are used and abused
Students who are violated
Students who assure their educators can live a BETTER LIFE THAN THEY
Students who are LITERALLY written off
Students who are broken inside
Students with no stability
Students who live with friends
Students who are mentally ill thanks to the system
Students who are criminalized by their teachers
Students who have NEVER had a relationship so therefore can't understand relationship building
Students who are negatively viewed after AMERICA has done the harsh acts they have towards them
Students bullied at home so the world is their enemy
Students robbed of their innocence
Students who are not born: hard, brute, callous, angry, rage filled but at the nod of America are turned into these people and then America WONDER WHY.

Please, remember them in this season, BECAUSE YEP, THEIR LIVES AND LIVELIHOOD MATTERS!

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