Note: Although these stories were on NPR on Friday, this post was a process over a few days due to one evil sinus infection. 🙂
The first news item that struck me was about a Spanish Lake documentary. A former resident was making a documentary about Spanish Lake. The main focus was about race and why St. Louis remains so divided. Here is a KETC piece on Spanish Lake from a few years ago.
Last month even I saw a BBC Story about St. Louis Divided. BBC. The BBC is writing about our small city and our racial division. We’ve made the news, folks, but not in a good way.
Spending much of my life in St. Louis, the division is evident. The inequality is there. I have had close family friends of non-white heritage harassed for driving through upper-class neighborhoods. It’s heartbreaking and embarrassing.
How in St. Louis are we going to get beyond this stigma? It’s not this or that race moving into the neighborhood. There are people who do crime in all races.
Let’s focus on crime. What motivates crime? Is this person angry, greedy, or maybe just hungry? Needs to pay the rent? We need to look further into what motivates individuals to do crime; was this crime just because or maybe because of family needs. Crime might be more prevalent in one particular race because the majority works hard to put them there. We work hard at our prejudice in St. Louis to be sure fewer African Americans and other minority races have fewer good paying jobs. Fewer housing opportunities. Less educational opportunities because there are fewer tax dollars to pay to schools, parents are always working and not able to focus on homework help, students might have to eventually work too shifting focus away from school. Etc. Etc.
This is a cycle. If we keep doing what we’re doing or do nothing, this will continue. It might get worse, but certainly it will not get better.
Second item to catch my attention was about bullying and even a new documentary about bullying. The one way other students can combat bullying is to not give the bully an audience and even advocate for the student being bullied. It is difficult to be the one to speak out, but sometimes it can make a huge difference.
I am glad schools are taking bullying more seriously now than they did when I was in school. Many times administrators and teachers would turn the other cheek to me being bullied, physically and verbally, and then I’d get in trouble for standing up to the bullies, physically and verbally, while they got away with it.
I even took up a habit of standing up for other students who were being bullied. The bullies backed off. The students acted like I’d done something amazing. Why shouldn’t we stand up for others?
To me, bullying was dumb. Why not just be friends? Was that so strange of a concept?
My daughter is now in kindergarten and experiencing the first tastes of bullying. Is she the bully? No. The victim? No. She’s the advocate. I am so proud of my outspoken, stubborn little 6 year-old for standing up for those other girls and asking the bully why she says mean things. I was so happy the day she came home from school frustrated because a girl who said “not nice things” to other girls wanted to be Kari’s friend, and Kari just wasn’t comfortable with that on account of her actions. No, not happy because she didn’t know how to navigate the social waters even we struggle with in adulthood, but because she at 6 years-old knew what was right, recognized the wrong, and wanted to stand up for the other person. This is what will change bullying. Teaching advocacy and that it’s ok to say you’re not ok with the behaviors of others.