dear (future) school official:
my son will be absent because in our house we teach him to respect others, but also stand up for himself and those in need. we do not want those teachings undone by scare tactics meant to silence him and suppress his natural altruism.
my son will be absent because I don’t want him manhandled by a raging resource officer or any school official who’s sole purpose is to ensure my son receive his education in a safe and nurturing environment.
my son will be absent because I don’t want him to know the terror of running and/or hiding from an active shooter. i don’t want his sacred space violated in such a way that his innocent curiosity and enthusiastic awareness turns to constant apprehension and fear. i don’t want to plant seeds of hopelessness when i explain to him these acts could have been avoided by mere policy change.
my son will be absent because i prefer to celebrate his uniqueness. i never want the idea that different is wrong enforced by a neglectful and disregarding authority figure. his vulnerability should be fostered and regarded as strength; not a target for those hurting so badly their only solace is to bully him for expressing his whole self. because i want him to feel free for as long as possible.
my son will be absent because instead of playing, exploring, and fostering a sense of wonder, he will be labeled “bad” or “troubled” if he’s unable to sit still and silent for hours upon hours.
my son will be absent because the history books you teach from do not reflect what we teach him about the many shoulders of giants he stands on. the statistics and facts you expect him to learn do not reflect his identity.
my son will be absent because i don’t want him to feel “stupid” or “slow” if he needs extra help or attention in a specific area. and because of pressure to meet some quota or remain in line with antiquated curriculum timelines, he will be shamed and/or ignored, creating a lifelong aversion to learning.
my son will be absent because the far too frequent tests are designed without regard for varying demographics that make up today’s classroom. the style, material and structure are not created with him in mind.
my son will be absent because as much as i’d like to think you’d contact me if anything were to go wrong or need my attention, i’m afraid you’ll assume i wouldn’t be interested in knowing. that because of preconceived notions about people who look like us, i wouldn’t want to know every detail of the happenings surrounding my child. because i don’t believe the well-being of my son would outweigh your desire to avoid the presumed wrath of an “angry black woman.”
my son will be absent; because of his brown skin, you are unable to see him as the child he is and insist on seeing him as an adult, a potential predator, an immediate threat. i do not trust you to recognize, care for, and protect his humanity.
my son will be absent because his father and i are involved in his education and will fully engage in his school experience. we will be allies and also hold teachers and administrators accountable. and we don’t want him punished for that if it ruffles certain feathers of comfort.
my son will be absent because your institution isn’t built to serve the best parts of him. but then, no institution is.
with sadness and sincerity,
a mother of a son whose life matters