Today I met with my 4th grade poetry students in Providence.
One group took turns reading their poems from the anthology the Writers-in-the-Schools program put together, while eating the strawberries and jellybeans I brought.
Black boys in that group: A.C., A.I., V.T.
My other group worked hard to write some new poems for their book, since many of them had misplaced or thrown out their writing notebooks "because it was full". (They also chased around a lot and bothered each other.) Their books, strawberries and jellybeans are coming next week; I'm taking a break from typing up their poems to write this.
Black boys in that group: D.L., B.W.
I want you to do at least two things today. Both are easy in the sense that you just have to click on something and then read and/or type. Sign this petition at change.org calling for the prosecution of George Zimmerman. And read this open letter by Ajani Husbands at Urban Cusp: "The Bullet Next Time: An Open Letter to my Unborn, Black Son." The petition-signing is relatively easy -- I just did it. Reading Husbands's letter is harder, but not as hard, of course, as living what it's about.
Racialicious has a pretty good roundup of some of the things other people are saying and writing about this and the pattern of often-lethal, always-destructive racial profiling it's part of, from news reporting to personal essays like the one linked above to events in protest of the police department's handling of George Zimmerman and in support of Trayvon Martin's family.
Husbands writes, "Your greatest achievements will be fluff for your eulogy." My 4th grade students are 9 or 10; I'm 33. I do not want to live to read, in the obituaries of A.C., A.I., V.T., D.L. or B.W., "He was so funny, so smart, so insightful." I do not want to read, "He had so much energy" or "He had such a great imagination" or "He loved to write poetry."