Michael Hanson, superintendent of the Fresno Unified School District, was proper in his figurative picture comparing black boys to the canary in the coal mine. His analogy forced me to reflect on how our society, our schools, our neighborhoods and our black homes have all contributed to the bankruptcy of their value in our communities and in their own minds.
The overt, vivid and subtle messages pressed upon the minds of black boys have been negative since birth. Overt messages depicting them as monkeys, overemphasizing their lips, and characterizing them as thugs have reduced black boys’ desire to even look a man in his eyes.
The message received by black boys in our society, in school, and in their own neighborhoods is they don’t fit. They have been labeled as truants, delinquents, dropouts and expelled. By the third grade, we have even gone so far as to reserve a prison bed in their honor.
The negativity our black boys experience every day would be enough for any one human to experience. These messages are etched, branded and absorbed into their minds. Until we change our message, our black boys will continue to spiral into the pit of that coal mine.
Laneesha Senegal, Fresno