I dream of a world where the poor, and often really innocent, Black incarcerated men and women could get $500.00/hour attorneys. And that these same people would not be forced to live under inhumane conditions or, as in the case of Kalief Browder, be driven insane and/or die because they don’t have bail money or an adoring Facebook fan base.
I dream of a nation where we could teach Logic as a standard mathematics topic in K-8 schools and as a standard course in high schools. This would help K-12 educators do a better job helping students to conceptualize, process and synthesize two completely different true ideas existing in the same “space time” that might appear (or are) contradictory. Like: (A) The police have falsely accused some Black citizens. (B) Some Black citizens have actually committed a crime. Both (A-B) “truths” can be true at the same time and the presence of one does not negate the existence of the other. The national intellectual deficiency of this kind of analytical and nuanced thinking has given us Trump.
I often dream of a time when we will build walls of protection around our children in places like Chicago so that they could go to school and play in their neighborhoods after school without being senselessly and randomly killed.
I dreamed we had the audacity to construct beautiful community buildings that housed after-school, weekend, summer programs for the “ignored and left-out” children of our nation. Institutions that featured: STEM*, dance, instrumental music, robotics, chess, painting, sculpture, creative writing, non-stereotypical sports, etc.—all the things that go into making a person a fully intelligent, decent, caring and creative human being.
I sometimes dream that we came up with a better strategy for picking men and women heroes other than they appeared on a TV series and/or had a hit song. We need a “builder of a school” LeBron James standard and criteria for recognized worthy and exemplary celebrityhood.
I dream of the day we transferred our anger at “the man” for “taking down” some Black celebrity to an anger about what is being daily “taken away” from gifted and talented Black children by insincere and inadequate public education systems. Let’s collectively grow up: Black celebrities (and their white counterparts) in a materialist-capitalist nation are seen by the “captains” of the sports and entertainment industries as “product salespersons.”
The economic exploitive value of any entertainer (including pro athletes) is lowered if they are videotaped “peeing” on girls, caught drugging and sexually assaulting women, or writing, producing, directing and starring in a silly noose and MAGA one-act publicity-stunt play. No one set these individuals up; not the Chicago Police Department, not the consumer products companies that financially benefit from their celebrity-marketing value, and not the network and recording industry executives who “own” the commercial rights to their celebrity. These badly behaving Black celebrities are not victims. For two of them, the true victims are the women and girls they sexually-assaulted. While one of them has managed to turn two groups of Americans into victims by discrediting real acts of racist and LGBTQ violence in our nation.
“Celebrity,” no matter how well-cloaked in “Blackness,” is not a license to do wrong. And our community standards should not be reduced to: “Well, they haven’t arrested every bad-acting white person, and so let’s give them a pass!” You mean in 2019 there are grown Black folks who have just discovered that every aspect of American life, including criminal justice (charging, arrest and sentencing), has been infected with racism? Now that’s scary! These offensive and offending Black celebrities don’t deserve our support, for they are not heroes. And as one church mother succinctly described a similar group of individuals who were not “celebrities:” “They are just low-down people!”
Black celebrity singers will sing, Black celebrity actors will act, and Black celebrity comedians will tell jokes. But the most deserving of celebration (Black-white-Latino-Asian, etc.) are persons in this country who are the dedicated pre-K-12 educators who effectively and successfully educate the politically disenfranchised and disentitled children of our nation. Number 2 most deserving of celebration persons in this nation are K-12 Black & Latino children, who, despite all types of political-societal and public education obstacles placed in their paths, can master: reading, writing, speaking, history, foreign language, science and mathematics at/or above grade level. And number 3 most in need of celebration in America, are those before-mentioned Black & Latino children independently reading books for pleasure. I dream that we “the people” would prevent these children from being “taken down” before they even get a chance to stand up and grow up to be celebrities.
*Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
Michael A. Johnson has served as a public schoolteacher, Science Skills Center director, principal and a school district superintendent. He also served as an adjunct professor of Science Education in the School of Education at St. John’s University. He recently completed a book on school leadership: “Report to the Principal’s Office: Tools for Building Successful High School Administrative Leadership.” [http://reporttotheprincipalsoffice.net/]