My Hair-story

Why did I pick this track? It’s a song about not being placed in a box or stereotyped and I felt it reflected upon the majority of this article.

I posted this article ‘Black Hair Pride’ which was about pride in being black and who we are and not seeing enough people like me in the media etc. Then last week, to my dismay, there was a video going around of a young girl ‘Ariyonna’, who said she was ugly. Why is that? It could be that someone called her ugly in school or it could just be that from everything she was watching she just didn’t see herself and didn’t think that she was pretty enough.

These are things some of us have lurking in our subconscious. She didn’t understand what was wrong with what she said, she felt it was fact and that is the way it is. She just felt that she was ugly, obviously she has heard that somewhere or seen that somewhere. And that’s why it’s so important to have role models out there in the media, everywhere. Kids watch cartoons, they watch tv. It’s good for them to see people that look like them, living their best life, so they don’t go through life feeling ugly. Even if someone decides to call them ugly they would see themselves as beautiful from what they see in the media and their environment. Yes, fair enough, parents should instill in their children and teach them from home that they are beautiful, but it does not hurt for them to see things that they enjoy watching and enjoy doing, and see themselves in those people.

It doesn’t hurt, it just helps to solidify or build upon what they have been told at home. They’ve been told these things at home, that they are beautiful, that they are so intelligent, they are wonderful. It’s good for them to see that when they are watching tv, reading and when they are outside too and not just when they are at home talking to their parents. First of all… yes, home is the best place for it to start, so regardless of what happens outside they can still come home and feel that love. But again, feeling that love at home and feeling that love and that joy outside that’s even more wonderful no?

Now Ariyonna she felt that way, I don’t know if you watched the video but that is something that can break your heart. She’s 4 years old and she feels that she’s ugly. Dark skin, pretty, cute, adorable little girl and she feels like she’s ugly. This world, it’s like… I don’t understand. Our little babies, our little kids they are going through quite a bit these days.

Cut to 3 weeks ago, there was a little girl named Kaia in elementary school, how old was she, 6 I believe. She had a tantrum at school and the head teacher called the police, or ‘school resource officer’ which is fancy terminology for school police, (I have to laugh it seems so absurd). This is no joke, true story, the child had a tantrum and the head teacher picked up the phone and called the police. And the police came. A policeman came and handcuffed her (with zip ties) and took her to the police station. Now I’m not saying she was locked up, there’s no mention of what happened to her at the police station.

She was handcuffed , with zip ties and taken to a police station… at 6 years old, because she had a tantrum. Every child on this planet has tantrums no matter how good they are or how nice and sweet they are. At some point they have had a tantrum. This poor little girl was taken to a police station. She wasn’t given a time out’, no one was there to hug her, console her or try and calm her. They called the police, who came zip tied her and off she goes to the police station.

It was later determined that the police officer ’Dennis Turner’ had done the same to other kids in the past a 7 year old being the youngest?

Our children are going through it. There is only so much we can do at home, we can tell them how great they are, how beautiful they are. We can teach them right and wrong but kids are kids (white, black, pink , purple kids are kids) and should be treated accordingly not different because they are black. They are going to have tantrums, they are going to want what they want. That’s part and parcel of what being a child is. You want what you want and you want it now. They don’t fully understand the concept of patience. Parents aim to teach patience or even the art of sharing, but this isn’t something they learn overnight, it takes time. And as adults we need to lead by example and be patient. Especially teachers, that’s what you signed up for. You’re working with kids not adults that’s part of the job. They are children, so yes you are going to see or witness some tantrums you may even see one everyday. No matter how good the child is or how great at parenting their parents are, because they are children.

How on earth can you think that a 6 year old deserves to be zip tied and carted off to prison? The head teacher didn’t call her parents, they called the police. That in itself is troubling. The headmaster of that school is insane, I hate to say it but, that is troubling behaviour. A 6 year old student in your school had a tantrum and hit a teacher. You didn’t call her parents instead you called the police.

Let’s not forget this child was peaceful and quiet by the time the police arrived. She was calmly listening to the school guidance counsellor who was reading to her. Then suddenly the police arrive and she was being zip tied and taken away. She was panicking, begging and pleading for a second chance, promising that she would be good. So you know she’s not some evil spawn, but the officer wasn’t the slightest bit phased.

She only had a tantrum, she had a bad time, that’s it. He didn’t even pay her no mind, straight into the police car and carted her off to the station. The headmaster too, I don’t even know, it needs to be found out what happened to him because that was just… that was mean. When something like that happens the first thing you do is to call the parents. Your child is having a tantrum, she’s unconsolable can you come down to the school. No her parents weren’t called, they felt it more appropriate to call the police because what, a young black girl at the age of 6 was having a tantrum and only the police could intervene. It seems they didn’t even care about her calming down they just wanted her out of the school.

It makes you sit and wonder for your children. Are they going to come across some incompetent, ignorant individual at school who is going to put them in that kind of situation?

I had a bizarre experience when I was in year 6 (when I was 11) I had a teacher Mr Fisher. One day I was taking in class to one of my friends and we laughed (now when I say talking I mean whispering, so we weren’t being loud). The teacher told us to stop and we did. Little did I know that Mr Fisher had other plans in his efforts to stop me from whispering in class (not something I did often). At break time as we were all heading out to the playground Mr Fisher pulled me aside and said “I know what happens at home, that I get smacked at home, and if I don’t behave he’s going to tell my parents and ensure I get smacked again.” I looked at this guy and was like… what?! What could I do, I let it go.

At the time I didn’t even understand that gravity of what he did. It wasn’t until this year, a week or 2 ago that I thought back to that day, I don’t know why, and I thought “This guy is not only racist but he is evil”. He tried to use the fear of what he feels he knows happens in my home, because I’m black, to make me behave. I wasn’t even a rude black girl I was actually very good in school. So he wasn’t threatening some delinquent (though even then he has no right) I talked in class, mind you I wasn’t talking to myself, and he felt he needed to threaten me to keep me in line.

It makes you wonder, who is looking after my children, if my child happens to have a tantrum are they going to call the police? Or are they going to have the sense to call me? Are they going to actually try to calm her down, give her a hug or will they call the police instead? So obviously now I’m going to be asking… “Ok so if anything happens at school eg. My child has a tantrum, what’s the procedure? So I know I won’t be getting a call from the police because my child had a tantrum or refused to share. That is not a phone call any parent wants to receive.

Also teachers teaching my children, are they going to be threatening them? So they start to hate their teachers and hate school, make them wonder why is my teacher talking to me like this? why is he making me feel this way? or even why do I feel this way?

It’s a lot to take in, it’s something that, for the time being, we just have to deal with. What can we do? Right now we can only put plans in place. Like I said, when my child starts school “What’s you procedure? If my child has a tantrum or does something naughty, what do you do? At any point in time is there a reason why you would have to call the police on my child?” These questions have to be asked before I pick a school for my child. I don’t see any white families having to do that.

We have to keep talking to our kids, It’s enough going through life and gathering insecurities, but being a black child growing up with all the extra burdens.

As a community we need to do better. Yes it starts at home, you teach your kids at home, but there’s only so much you can do when dealing with outside influences e.g. teachers, school, police, they have to do better too. There’s only so much you can do at home, your child has to go out, live their life, go to school. So everybody has a part to play in the upbringing of our kids.

It takes a village. Because we are a community, essentially, wherever you live that is your community. When your child goes to a store, the store owner is part of your community, they have a hand in determining who your child will become by the way they talk to your child and interact with your child and treat your child. Not just store owners, I’m talking teachers, police officers, friends, neighbours, the bus driver, people they see everyday. All these people are part of your community and they have a hand in moulding who your child becomes because how they treat your child is what your child sees and is your child's reality. Which is what they then perceive to be normal (good or bad).

So it’s more than what they see at home. Regardless of what they are taught at home , they may be stronger, but they still get influenced by that because that’s their life and these are people that they see on a regular basis in their community. So we have to think about all of that. So people just saying “raise your child at home, take care of them and teach them right from wrong etc” Yeah that’s fair enough, you’re going to teach your child and show them right from wrong , show them the way to go, let them know who they are (they’re beautiful, they’re smart, they’re good) teach them how to be good and give them great advice. But they are still going to go outside and meat all these other people that they will see everyday unless they are going to be locked up in the house till they are fully developed emotionally and ready to start work. And how the people treat them when they are outside has a hand in moulding who they become from a young age.

So yes, we have to hold everybody in our community accountable, I am accountable, you are accountable. If you’re on this planet, you live somewhere, you are part of a community and we all have to individually be accountable for who we are, how we act and our actions towards people in our community. So that we can have communities that thrive and actually help each other grow. Regardless of who you are and where you live you are part of a community and your actions within that community affect other people.

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