, 9 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Spent the day at a juvenile detention center & I just kept thinking about how often these boys have been told things like "pull up your pants" & "stop listening to that music" & how little they've been told that structural racism & public policy have targeted them for generations
So many black children are constantly scolded for things that aren't their fault. Like, the reason one part of DC looks one way & another part of DC looks different isn't bc of the people in those communities, it's what been done to those communities for decades, for centuries.
We all have personal responsibility. We all have some measure of agency. But those have to be understood in the context of all the structural impediments shaping a person's experiences. It's not to absolve ppl of what they do, but to understand how they might have ended up there.
I'm just so tired of us telling black children all the things that are wrong with them & everything they need to do better, & not telling them that the reason so many black kids grow up in struggling communities is bc of decisions made by ppl in power, not decisions made by them.
I remember the first time someone really sat me down & helped me understand what's happened to our community over generations. It was liberating. I had the language to name something I felt but never knew how to say. It freed me from a paralysis. It showed me how to name the lie.
I think people sometimes believe that if they talk black youth about structural racism & history that they'll feel overwhelmed & shut down. But if done correctly, that's not true. Give them the language & the framework. It doesn't strip them of agency, it gives it back to them.
And to be clear, I'm not someone who believes things like mentorship doesn't matter, or that conversations about personal responsibility are unimportant. They're *hugely* important. But they're also *hugely* irresponsible & unfair if done without the larger structural analysis.
Some folks, and a lot of teachers, have asked where they can find resources to begin thinking about how to teach these sorts of things more effectively. I’m a huge fan of @Tolerance_org which has a great series of toolkits & curriculums on these topics:

And @ZinnEdProject is a go-to resource for all the help you could want to teach a more robust, holistic, & honest version of American history:

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