Another Abject Failure For Our Society To Learn Nothing From
It is quite dispiriting to see the gross inordinate disciplinary measure that was meted out with such ferocity by an adult, male, student resource officer on a 16 year old, female, child at Spring Valley High School. The event was captured and disseminated virally and shows Sheriff’s Deputy Ben Fields, acting in the capacity of Student Resource Officer (SRO), using brute force in removing this student from class.
It is said that the student’s refusal to leave the class as instructed by the teacher led to administration being called and the task of a SRO taking such drastic action. It was reported very loosely that a school policy infraction was initiated by the student’s use of a cellphone during class and that her noncompliant posturing culminated into what transpired into a classroom disruption. Education is a right that should not be violated and actions that violate this right must be mitigated by not only the awareness of this right, but by exhausting alternative actions that convey and evoke that right. No student should be allowed to disrupt the instruction of the classroom at the expense of other students. Administration is complicit in violating this right in this instance. This can also be seen with measurable disgust if this was caught on viral video.
But this show of defiance to authority followed by a deterrent consequence to such defiance in a school setting is at the crux of this issue. The degree and measure imposed by this authority is disproportionate as a consequence to what can be seen as a ubiquitous distraction and addiction of cell phone technology — something that I am fortunate to not have the pleasure of experiencing during my days at school. Young children are impressionable and are at a stage where they are bombarded by rules that they may or may not understand, or have not been taught to rationalize in this setting, ironically. These rules become harder to comprehend when they are personal issues of conflict and stress that students may be grappling with at home.
The offense of overturning this child and violently throwing her to the floor is an agressive tactic that seems more befitting for those individuals who pose an imminent threat to others. It is equally hard to comprehend that this was contemplated as an appropriate response and how this is not seen as exacerbating the disruption to the classroom. Why did Fields and the administration feel that this is unquestionably the most appropriate tactic to use, and that no psychological harm would come of it that may promote this cycle of violence in other ways? It was mentioned by Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott who fired Deputy Fileds that the manuever didn’t follow proper training or procedure, but added that some of the responsibility does fall on the student who was wrong for disrupting the classroom and was “supposed to be there learning”. We should all be careful of what we teach children even when we are not explicitly engaging them. Even if those aren’t our kids or we don’t have children they are watching and learning when you least suspect. We should be that sensitive to the tenderness of their age as they develop an impression of the world around them.
Now add in the complexity of our present day socioeconomics inherent to our institutions and presented by the social order that precede it, and you have an overwhelming tally of grievances that makes this incident invariably more sensitive. The ire of equality in this instance can hardly be dismissively justified as just a race card issue, although in many instances it is seen as contributing to being racial. That would be an oversimplification, however, because there is more of an underlying failure by the school district and the community to come together as a village and look after its future doctors, lawyers, politicians, entrepreneurs, athletes, and so forth, regardless of race, creed, or gender. They appear more concerned with themselves as both the Black Parent group and the Bi-partisan Committee, who are seen as competing for representation and influence in their community and school district, have both failed to address the measures of inequality in the school. It seems to be more about the adults than about the children. This insensitivity towards our young can be seen as trying to negate the hard felt repercussions of the overriding perception, the historical precedent, and the incessant gaps of equality in American society. This is why the feelings of anguish, angst and despair can be derived from watching this video.
I also will not post or reblog this video as most tend to feast on the epicaricacy of it all, of whom either manage to vicariously escape harsh discipline or are privileged in not having to experience such disparate treatment of the same. A particular point had been made when Sheriff Lott was dismissive of whether race had played any part in the revolting actions meted out by a white male officer, on a young black female student in the classroom, charging that Fields has a black girlfriend. This laughable and fallacious argument perverts justice in so many ways and is thus ludicrous to conclude infallibility due to this fact. This statement is meaningless. We would have to also conclude that colorism does not exist within people of color because they are people of color. It’s just another one of those egregiously learned behaviors to be considered. It is not enough to assume that the SRO’s black girlfriend absolves him of acting out racist behavior in certain capacities with the students. It is also not enough to assume that Fields hadn’t exoticized his relationship either. In fact one would be more apt to believe that such a relationship would have made him more sensitive towards equal and careful treatment of others and not in the more exploitative nature that has now played out.
This is one of those teachable moments that may go unheeded. It is hard to imagine people would remain ignorant to the issue and not see where we can learn from this incident. We have the opportunity to be better adults in the eyes of children, be better stewards of democracy and equality for our burgeoning future. We have the opportunity to encourage equitable perspectives for plausible alternatives where past precedents have failed and the opportunity to make it so that no other young Black female student has to feel that in any instance her cell phone is more important than her education — that disrespect of authority should define her. In no way should we take from this that the actions carried out by the SRO were in any way justifiable or appropriate enough to set order and/or tone for an environment conducive to learning. We should have learned that there are plenty of alternatives other than the quick, overly aggressive actions that promote stereotype, resentment, fear and distrust. We should have learned already that prevention is the best cure and some tautology can go a long way. We should learn to be better than this.