The Hurt Is Evident: In the Shoes of A Child of Color In Tulsa Right Now
Booker T. Washington protests
As his family and community prepare to bury Terence Crutcher on Saturday, the students of a Tulsa middle school - including his daughter and almost 10 of his relatives - still struggle to process his death. Shortly after police released chilling video of the unarmed Crutcher being gunned down, staff at KIPP Tulsa College Preparatory decided to "create a safe space for our kids to grieve and talk about something that affects us as a community of color,” said Principal Andrew McRae. He turned to Rebecca Lee, a popular writing teacher and literacy coach, to lead three small group discussions with fifth, sixth, and seventh/eighth grade students. The groups were part of several protests and rallies held in Tulsa, including a powerful silent tribute to Black Lives Matter at a Booker T. Washington pep rally.
In a moving Facebook post, Lee describes a hushed school full of hurting kids where "the tragedy lives and breathes among them." Trying to make sense of senselessness, they weep, shut down, pass tissues, pat each other's backs, share their plaintive hopes - "I wish white people could give us a chance" - speak their fears and ask their questions: "Do I matter? Am I to be feared? Should I live in fear? Am I human?" After many other deaths in many other places, Lee notes, "This happened so close to home. It feels real now... A group of sixth grade girls sit next to Mr. Crutcher's daughter. They are her friends." She chose to share the story, Lee writes, "because we are creating an identity crisis in all of our black and brown students. We are shaping their world view with blood and bullets...Is this how we want them to feel?" Her privilege - Lee is white - "requires that I speak." She likewise asks others to speak, see, act, rage, "put yourself in the shoes of black and brown children growing up...I ask that you love and love hard."