Monday, May 15, 2006

Scared of my own damn people

Bronx, N.Y
3 children - 2 boys (15), (11) and 1 girl (9)

I was thinking of homseschooling my son. As you can imagine there are many reasons, but when push comes to shove, I think I have to admit that fear of Black people has led me to this decision. Now, I won't say fear of my people is the only reason, but it is a big reason; maybe sixty to seventy percent of the reason.

My youngest son Shane will be entering junior high school this fall and that scares me to death. Not only is the New York City school system overcrowded and understaffed, but its is woefully inept and dangerous as hell. Junior high school and high school was bad when I went and some twenty years later, it has only gotten worse.

I live near a junior highschool, the one my son is suppose to be attending this fall and what I see from these kids every afternoon when I am picking up my children is enough to scare any Mother and scared I am.

But not just me, my son is scared as well.

Every afteroon I am treated to my daily dose of cursing, fighting and stealing. These kids have the filthiest mouths and aren't afraid to use them…. even on adults.The young guys (usually Black) are always either fighting (attacking someone) or looking for a fight. I often overhear their conversations and it always has something to do with "F**king dat nigga up". But the person who has it the worse is the poor guy who runs the corner store. It is his place
of business that these guys come to, to steal. I see dudes in there with cellphones and the most up to date gear, stealing twenty-five cent juices.

I have been witnessing this for years and it has progressively gotten worse.We now have cops rolling through the neighborhood telling kids to go home over the bullhorn, and as I watch these guys loitering around I can't help wonder where their parents are. When I got out of school I was expected to be home by a certain time and God help my behind if I was not.

I wrote all this to say, that I never thought the day would come where I would fear my own people but that time has indeed come. Actually, I don't fear them, I fear what they will do to my child and the effects it will have on him and his education.

You can't learn in a school or classroon that is out of control.You can't learn if you fear going to school. You can't learn if you fear being attacked or called names for actually doing your work and trying to get an education. It's not talked about much, but I think a good number of kids who drop out of school do so out a fear.It's not just the bad kids or hoodlums who drop out.Many kids simply fear for their lives.I knew many such kids when I was in school and I don't plan on allowing this to happen to my son.

Homeschooling my son is not a done deal as private school or maybe even Catholic school is an option his Dad and I are keeping open. But my heart is definitely set on schooling him myself. Not only do I think I can do better job and give him that one on one attention he could never get in a NYC classroom, but as you might imagine from what I posted above, he would be a lot safer and that is what matters to me most.


Blogger cloudscome said...

I hear you. Maybe you can get a group of other NYC homeschool parents to work together with you. Maybe there are some alternative schools around that you could be part of... there are so many things you can do when you set your mind to getting your son the best education in a safe environment!

7:07 AM  
Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

I completely understand. I'm scared of these crazed black kids too. Just because they are black doesn't mean I shouldn't be scared of them. I wish the opposite were true.

I'll move to Iowa before I raise a kid with "that n_____ syndrome."

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Jasai said...

Are we referencing black children because that is what we know most intimately? Just to be clear, our society is full of ill-behaved, derelict, incorrigible children of all races. And as parents we need to begin taking responsibility for that.

10:12 AM  
Blogger the prisoner's wife said...

i think we need to be careful of what we say.

i am not scared of black people. i love black people! i am weary of ignorant people. these "crazed black kids" are just those who have not been given the proper guidence. how will they ever amount to anything if no one stops to share some jewels of knowledge with them? instead we clutch our purses and move to the other side of the street.

now...i'm not saying you should go out and try to convert them, but maybe start some type of program in your neighborhood for kids. give them other options. you cannot protect your kids forever. and these "crazed kids" will turn into wild adults if we just keep on walking by and shaking our heads.

for the poster in the boogie down. have you check out this school? it sounds really great and it's right in the BX

Bronx Academy of Letters

it's worth a look.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Trula said...

Wow this post is deep!

I wouldn't send my kids to a school where they were afraid either.

I don't know that I would be afraid of these kids, though. Some of the teens in Cleveland act like that, that's just how they talk. I've been on the bus in the hood when school lets out, and some of these teens, act the fool. ACT THE FOOL. I've had to say, Excuse Me??? of Quit cursing at me! and no one has jumped bad at me yet. Generally they act surprised that an adult would say something to them. Most of the adults on the bus ignore their bad behaviour, which is a shame. Especially the men, I wish more black men would speak up to these kids.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous jasai said...

Trula, you hit he nail on the head. What happened to community? When did “we” as in black folks, stop grabbing our children (the children in the neighborhood, the children at church) and insisting that they behave, watch their mouths, get to class? Where I live and where my family lives, I step in. I say something. These kids come from some of the most unfortunate, disenfranchised circumstances and often they do not know how to respond to authority because they have never had anyone take the time to correct them in love.


We should be ever so careful how we treat this situation. These are OUR children, OUR future, the potential spouses, neighbors, community members of the children we have borne and if we do not embrace them – if only with a smile or an admonishing word as needed – we are going to be so very sorry, and ultimately accountable.

By all means, educate your children where it's safe but embrace all of our children wherever/however you find them. It will make a difference. Trust me.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Blackhoney said...

Well as the author of the above post I was speaking truthfully about the circumstances around me and though I agree with those of you who say these children need help and counceling, I just cannot be the one to do it.I have my hands full raising my own children and the parents of these ill behaved children should be the ones teaching them to be respectful young citizens, not me.I don't ask that anyone else raise my children and neither should they.It sounds all nice and well to say something to these kids but you had better be careful, because not all of them take being challenged nicely.The parents of these children need to wake up and take responsibility for the little monsters they are raising.

I talk to my son everyday about what is going on in the world around him.I have told him and he has seen how difficult the world can be as a Black person.So I have tried to instill in my son a sense of control and responsibility.I have explained to him why he needs to pay attention in school and get the best education he can.I have told my son how to keep from ending up in the prison system.We watch the news together and I hold nothing back.

I am raising a little gentlemen.I am rasing a child who I believe won't grow up to be the killer of any of you.I am raising what I believe will be a productive member of society, but especially Black society.I am a parent taking responsibilty for what I have created.I only ask that others do the same.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous jasai said...

Since this seems to be a popular topic (thank heaven!), I will reiterate what I said over at

Might I suggest a book that deals with the issue of class and will surely answer a lot of the notions presented here with respect to parents and their responsibility for the education of their children? (Where We Stand: Class Matters by bell hooks)

I feel like this is remedial information but clearly it must be noted that in this life there is a hierarchy of needs (Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is as good a map as any) which basically states that there are basic issues that have to bet addressed and resolved in order for a person to move on and up the needs ladder, beginning with physiological needs, i.e. hunger. Considering that so many families that fall into the categories being discussed here have a difficult time getting basic needs met, there is no wonder that they can not get to the top of the needs hierarchy where esteem and self-actualization are made manifest (this includes valuing education, and community mindedness)

I would implore all of us to be more open to the truth that everyone does not come to the situation of education with the same benefit/detriment hand. And all of us who are more fortunate should take a page from community life way back when, before crack and welfare and hyper capitalism came and stole our collective community soul, and help those who can not help themselves. There is such a category of people and their children deserve a chance.

5:59 PM  
Blogger the prisoner's wife said...

black honey,

sis...i don't particularly like how you are labeling the kids as "little monsters."

i'm sorry, i don't care how wild they sounds...wrong. this is exactly the type of langue that white folks have been using about US. and to turn around and use that type of langue to discribe our youth is too easy and irresponsible.

no you cannot raise someone else's kids, nor should you have to ask someone to raise yours. but as the African proverb states..."it takes a village," and that village sometimes includes our neighbors, friends, family, etc. we cannot solely blame the parents and expect them to show their kids the right way if they themselves weren't shown the right way. it is a vicious cycle. if we don't start stepping up to be SOME type of role model to our kids, who will?

10:29 PM  
Blogger Trula said...

blackhoney, I feel you. It is hard enough working and childraising our own, just the thought of taking on others' can make you feel tired, can seem overwhelming. I do agree with you that other parents should be raising their own kids. That is so true.

I don't think any of us are suggesting that there aren't black teens who are criminals, or thugs, or who wouldn't hesitate to hurt you. All we are suggesting is to look at these kids perhaps with compassion. But you know what, only you can decide what is your comfort zone for you and your kids, if you do not feel safe you have the right to do what's best for ya'll.

1:02 PM  
Blogger shannon said...

I think that even just treating them like humans instead of monsters could help. Now I'm not saying everybody can go out and be a mentor, but if you got 5 extra dollars, drop it for a community center, drop it for a mentoring program, drop it for something positive, you know?

8:50 AM  
Blogger The Sonflower said...

I love Black People.

I love Black Kids.

These kids are no different than us as children. The supervision just sucks now. Parents don’t want other parents correcting their children. Parents are not doing the job at home. Capable adults are not lending a hand.

A baby is a baby. A baby born is the sixties, is the same as a baby born in the seventies, eighties, and today. We teach. All information is taught. You want kids that don’t act like thugs, teach them what being a thug is and what that can end up looking like when he is behind bars or dead.

Also these kids you are afraid of are looking for direction. They might not be getting it from home, but they are still looking. If you were not so afraid you would see how receptive they can be if someone would stop and talk to them and try to give them some sort of direction.

This is work. To say that you are busy raising your children is a copout. The kids are getting ignored. The longer we ignore them, the worse it is going to get. If you really want your children to be productive members in the Black Community, this is a part of the Black Community. But your children wont even know how to talk to their own damn people because they are afraid of them.

You know what, I am afraid of you.

I grew up in less than wonderful circumstances, but I had black people along my way (not my parents) that pulled me aside and helped me get through.

Don’t fool yourself, every culture does it. Parents don’t raise kids alone. Asians stick together. Jews stick together. Armenians stick together. Mexicans stick together.

Black people f**king hate each other. They are afraid of each other.

THAT is a part of the problem.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous pear said...

running from room to room but the whole house is on fire. has anyone considered moving out of the USA to raise their children? personally, i am from NYC, have two sons and would not even think about going back there to raise my sons. It is definately a scary place. I am trying to think a little bit more progressively. We already have community centers. The black community is in a state of emergency.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Jasai said...

I have not thought about moving while my children are still in my care but I have thought about sending them adroad for school, to broaden their perspective.

But is moving to France/Spain/Italy/Australia, the answer? Are we saying - as a community - that we can come up with no solution to this problem? Really?

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In all fairness to the original poster, I think it's more than a bit insenstive to dismiss her concerns and then ask her to go out of her way to raise children that aren't hers. Her concerns and fears are valid, extremely valid and if the children in question were the children of her friends and/or neighbors she was close to then, sure, reach out... do your part etc. etc. But I teach in schools and the amount of work that has to go into breaking these cycles is frankly, not my responsibility. I will not add to it by dismissing the children but I also will not carry the burden squarely on my shoulders. You can only do so much. I don't have children but I can only imagine how difficult it is to not only raise your kids but concern yourself with how the next person is raising their children. It's very easy to give armchair advice to this mother but I think it goes way beyond invalidating her very real concerns and then putting the blame or responsibility on her shoulders. When I have children, I plan to raise them in the village and community of artists that raised me when I first moved to New York. That's the best I can do for my children and the children of my friends and family. I remember being in middle school and harassed and taunted into faking bad grades so that the kids in my new school would leave me alone. That is the last thing I want my children to go through when I find kids in teh workshops I teach who show a spark, I nurture them but I don't ignore the responsive kids in favor for the kids who show up just to show out. Everyone gets a fair shot if you squander it, I move on.
I think we should ease up on the "what are you doing to help!?" finger pointing. It's not fair.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous angel said...

Wow. So many insightful comments here and I'm definately understanding where EVERYONE is coming from.

First, to the original poster: I know exactly what you're saying about feeling afraid of young people today. I will say young people -- not just black youth but disenfranchised youth of ALL shades --
because our uber-capitalist society has them on a hustle like none we have ever known. Baltimore City leads the country in homocides, and I'm not talking about grown folks. I'm talking about twelve year old children getting shot at point black range over dumb stuff. I'm talking about fifteen year olds in wheel chairs. I'm talking about Stop Snitching videos on every corner warning what will be done to you and yours if you say One Damn Word. And I know the same hustle is on in New York. No, it's not the children's fault that they are the way that they are. It's the parents. Parents who work long and hard hours to make the lease payments on their Benzes, Lexuses, and Infinitis. Parents who are not even home when the children get out of school. Parents who don't even know when report cards are issued. Parents who own more high top sneakers and jerseys than their kids do. Parents who spend every extra dime they have on NON-durable goods, rather than put those dimes in interest bearing accounts. Parents who are slaves to capitalism breeding more slaves to capitalism.

I don't claim to have the answer but I do know that just as we will inevitably suffer the consequences that come from the war in Iraq and the murderous slaughter of innocent people, so too will we suffer the effects that come from turning our backs on the youth and saying it's not my problem. Because until we see our interconnectedness with all beings and all things, nothing will change. Donating money to a center is not the answer. Sitting around and complaining is not the answer. Sitting around our dinner table pontificating is not the answer. The answer is in seeing that you and those children are connected, through time and space. The only difference between you and the latest homocide victim is that you left your home at nine and that person left at 8:55. You know what I'm saying? Time and space connects us all.

Move out of the country? Maybe. Move out of New York City? I would. But the truth of the matter is, it's the culture. And the culture is on satellite t.v.
You can run, but you can't hide.

Bottom line folks: there's work to do. Serious work. Volunteer in YOUR child's classroom and then, volunteer in the classroom your child will be going into the following year. Make sure you go to YOUR child's PTA meetings and don't just sit there, get involved. Mentor a child over a summer vacation. Ask your employer to start a Bring A Child to Work on Fridays during the summer months.

Just Do Something.

8:09 PM  
Anonymous pear said...

If I were interested in staying in the US I guess I would feel compelled to do more, however, my focus is really about building a home in Africa and raising my children there. I think more of us should really look at extracting ourselves from this toxic environment. As black people we are more educated than ever, but we have more children than ever coming from broken homes and we are leading in all illnesses. At this point I am contributing to building and maintaing something outside of America period. Nothing against those who want to stay and fight the good fight, but I have seen the benefits of those black families who have left this all behind and chose to build a life elsewhere. I have also seen the effect on their children and I love what I see. The author of this post has every right to feel the way she does. Things have gotten a lot worse. If I could take all of these young men out of this environment, I would.

9:00 PM  
Anonymous Angel said...

Pear and all:

Moving out of the country is an excellent idea but it does not preclude the work that people of color all over the world have to do to maintain their selfhood. I am a traveller. My two children, ages 9 and 5 own passports and have for a good long while. They/We have been abroad and have seen both the struggles and the freedoms of people of color. I dine with Ghanian friends and Nigerian friends and Cameroonian friends in my home. There is struggle in those places too. There is struggle in Belize City where my childen and I went last summer. There is struggle in Costa Rica, where my brother and I are looking for property. There is struggle in Panama and Venezuela and Cuba. There is struggle anywhere you go. The Black American struggle is unique, but not singular.

Today is Malcolm X's birthday and one of my favorite quotes of his is the following:

"A race of people is like an individual man; until it uses its own talent, takes pride in its own history, expresses its own culture, affirms its own selfhood, it can never fulfill itself."

That fulfillment is not limited to place. It has to happen in the inner man or woman. Now, if living somewhere else can help you to use your own talent and affirm yourself then that is wonderful. By all means. But for most people who have evolved to the place that Malcolm did, you begin to see that it is an inner process, not outer. And this is the gift we give our children when we do the work -- wherever we are in this world.


6:35 AM  
Blogger Cheri said...

I'm not scared of black kids, well at least most of the time I'm not (lol); but I understand your concern. The issue for me is the mentality too many of our youth have that suggests being black synonymous to being a criminal, ignorant, hyper-sexual, etc...
No one should be AFRAID in school, but fighting and harrassing amongst all kids is out of control and African-Americans can be especially vicious with one another. Schools need to assure kids are safe through use of clear expectations and consequences. And, more in our community must begin to look outside of our own home and our own kids, and realize all of these youth are our own. What they do and who they become impacts us all...

6:47 AM  
Blogger Blackhoney said...

@ Pear.

Yes, everyday I think of possibly moving out of this country, but not to another white country as Jasai says.Thoughts of Africa constantly run through my mind as I don't see us truly every being treated as full human beings in this country.

Fear for the lives of my sons will always be at the forefront of my mind so long as they are citizens of this not so great country.

Everything I do and say involving my sons tends to be associated with my fear of what will happen to them if they are not near perfect citizens.This is not healthy for me and maybe not for them as my son told me I was too hard on him.

A lil off topic I know...

8:08 PM  
Anonymous jasai said...


First, let me offer a warm and grateful "thank you" for allowing me to repost this entry. Thank you for allowing our community of mothers to give their opinions and perspectives on a subject that for you is obviously personal and of great concern.

I think when we as women and mothers - especially black women - share our greatest fears and most pressing concerns we give the universe (and our neighbors, friends and strangers on a website) the opportunity to aid in the broadening of perspective and/or solidifying of our own beliefs. We also give those of us with the same issues and but not the same courage to speak out, an opportunity to listen in and get insight.

In whatever you decide to do, I wish you peace and great courage and that the resulting experiences find each of your children happy, whole and well educated.

8:15 AM  
Blogger soledadsista3 said...

I worked for several months in an alternative charter school that started out intending to improve the cultural education of African American children ...under the premise that they would thrive when they were educated and tested by African American men and women using educational tools that were relative to them with activities centered in West African culture. This school quickly became a dumping ground (once used to describe it by a disgruntled employee)for beligerant, outspoken, ill-mannered children that, in most cases, were kicked out of their assigned local schools. We were supposed to have classrooms of 14 or less, but every class was overcrowded, and fights (between students, and sometimes with teachers) erupted often...I had the largest homeroom class of 28 6th grade boys, the oldest of whom was 15 and swung on one of my substitutes (He was also one of several children I taught who were being medicated and I didn't know). I learned that there are a lot these children needed that I couldn't provide after the doors of the school closed, but I did offer them an opportunity to discipline themselves--controlling themselves and gave them the structure I thought they needed...Sadly, I couldn't stay there long, as the stress from the work, and what I thought was NO support from the administration was enough to keep me from doing what I thought was a good job teaching. I spent more time disciplining, or helping them moderate themselves that I didn't feel learning was happening.
I can only imagine what the teachers in those schools must feel like (if they feel anything), and even more, what those children feel like at the core of their beings...
I often wish I could take them all to a farm somewhere and help them figure it all that they could be better humans...
I have always known that I would change my tune a bit when my son was born, but there are times when I would prefer to send him to a private, predominantly white institution just to ensure that his educational needs are met before sending him somewhere he may not be educated and might be shot. Then there are times when I believe that moving takes me and my love for all children out of the neighborhoods that need the programs I want to put there...
I have been considering moving to NYC (for several reasons)in the next few years and this has become a huge issue for me as I decide what will become of my son...The problem that I've been seeing is that there are such a small amount of programs in the areas that need them in NYC, and they have waiting lists for years it seems. And for mother's who can afford to, homeschooling networks seem to be the best way to ensure your child's safety and education.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Chosen said...

I can answer this. As a mother a boy now 14 who has become deceived with the thought of being a “gangsta”, I am the mother that people believe is no-good, self-absorbed--poor parenting skills. Whatever we believe when we see these boys hanging around doing ridiculous stuff that they really don’t understand the repercussions of yet. I too used to look at these boys or children in general and think that they must have parents who aren’t really being parents. I too was deceived. My husband and I are G-d fearing, hard working people. We raised our children to think something of themselves and sent them to good schools. When we decided to home school, we made the decision because our school system isn’t what it should be. We brought our then 2 oldest children home. My oldest bucked our system for 2 years until he also rebelled against us as well. He now lives with my mother who we enlisted to keep him for a weekend and it is now 2 more years later. We didn’t run from our responsibilities. We raised our children contrary to the things that he is now doing. But he’s in public school now and he has hooked up with all the wrong people and now he would probably be one of the children that people assume have no training or decent parents. What you think and see is not always what it is. If you bring your son home, do it for him and for you because it's the best thing for you! Not in fear.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous jasai said...

Thank you Chosen for sharing your story. My mother faced this very same issue with my older brother. In my family there were in fact underlying issues that my brother -and most of these boys - are dealing with and sometimes as parents we do not know how to address them or even know what they are.

But you have made a great point, many of these boys are parented, they are guided and sometimes their needs outweigh our capabilities or knowledge base. This is not a crime as we are all learning.

There is the problem of not seeking help for "family matters" which leaves the child to feel like they have no outlet and that no one understands them. But if we come together in our own communities and listen to our children, get help for them (outside neutral therapy) when they need it and LISTEN to them, I believe we wold see something magical happen.

The stages in which these boys find themselves attracted to alternative lifestyles is often the awkward pre-teen and teenage years and because we are a generation and culture of parents that insist that chidren behave despite their pain, and do what we say no matter what, we will continue to run into this problem.

Fortunately listening can be done by anyone. Encouragement can be given by anyone. Understanding can be filtered through a neighbor, a school aid, another childs parent.

This in why each of us is so critical to the task of reaching these children - our children.

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is not from the "Anonymous" who responded previously. Call me "Anonymous 2".

To the mama who wrote the original post, I agree with you not wanting to place your son in that hell-hole of a school. Sending your son to a school he does not want to attend in a environment he does not want to be in is like going to a job every day that you can't stand. Anyone who has been in that situation knows that you can't be your best, creative, remarkable self because your energy is wasted trying to deal with being there, day after day after day. You can't stand it. You call in sick. Your performance is mediocre. You're better than that, but you don't show it because the environment depresses you. You feel trapped and wish you could get out. Most people, especially single moms will stick out a job because they have to eat and have shelter. A child, on the other hand, can choose to not stick it out and just drop out of school. Or worse yet, just start hanging out with losers who don't attend class, who spend the day getting high or pursuing other cheap thrills and fast money.

So blackhoney, my advice is do the best you can for your son. Don't sacrifice his future well-being "to the cause". These monsters that you describe are truly that. I know the truth hurts, but if a man, woman, or child will kill and rape and do untold harm to your son for no reason whatsoever, that person is a monster and you need to keep your son as far away from them as possible. Why should your son have to pay the price for all of the wrong in the community? The wrong that led these other kids astray cannot be made right by your son and it is not his job to fix it.

His job is to get a good education and grow up to be a fine black man who is culturally, socially and politically aware, who is well groomed, well rounded, proud to be black with no desire whatsover to be white, look white or act white. Black is beautiful and he should have that black pride that comes from knowing who you are and what you have to offer this world. He should not come into adulthood with excess emotional baggage from surviving the daily assualts (mental, spiritual and physical) against him at the High School from Hell.

I would never subject my children to that kind of scene and I don't feel guilty for believing my girls are better than that. I want more for them because they are worth it. I send them to a private Christian school (K -8th grade) and will send them to a private High School, if the Lord says the same. I chose Christian schools because I want their school to reinforce my values. As a single mom, I need all the help in that area that I can get. I have to sacrifice to send them to this school ($14,000 a year), but my girls are worth it. It's not like I'm rolling in cash, but I'm not in debt either, praise the Lord!
I don't own a big fancy house, (I rent an affordable apartment in a nice neighborhood.) I dont' drive a new luxury car or get my nails and hair done at a salon. Those kinds of things have to go by the wayside for now as I make those tuition payments, but like I said, my girls are worth it.

You should look into the private schools in your area. These schools offer wonderful field trips, art and music as curriculum, advanced math and science in all of the grades, small class size, teachers, mentors, class moms, and teacher's aides. Your son will really benefit from that kind of education and he will have the freedom to really learn without the distractions that you describe in your original post. God bless you as you continue in your mama journey.


10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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2:23 AM  

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