In 1.84 seconds, a black pre-teen by the name of Tamir Rice lost his life in a Cleveland Park. As a lifelong educator, I often think about what it was like to educate 5th and 6th grade students. They came in a variety of shapes and sizes as they were making their transition towards adolescence and becoming a teen. Some were playful, some were studious and most were beginning to form a perspective on the world and life. And I think about my own growing up as a 12 year old boy in the city of Philly. I smile with fond memories when I think about the times when I carried my cap pistol, as we called it back in the day, and pretended that I was the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers or any other cowboy hero of that era. I was having fun pretending.
At this season in my life, I am more reflective on the things that I have done and the things that I hope to do. So I think about Tamir Rice and how his hopes, dreams and aspirations, and those held by his family, were dashed in less than 2 seconds and I am saddened.
In the time it takes to blink an eye or take a deep breath or pause, another young black boy has been lost.
My goal is to change the narrative that is too quick to portray a 12 years old boy as much older than their chronological age. I am on a mission to erase the commentary that castigates this group of males and too easily sees them as a menace to society. The senseless death of Tamir Rice accelerates the urgency of the work that must be done to change this negative narrative.
The Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color is the only national organization committed to the education and affirmative development of boys and young men of color. These students must be able to enjoy their present as they anticipate a bright future. We urge you, who believe in the promise and endless talent and potential of boys and young men of color, to join us in this work.