So, Y'all Really Wanna Arm Teachers?
Yesterday I got cursed out by a 14 year old.
Let me set the scene.
My mother and I were in Walgreens getting random things. My mom needed orange juice and two teenage girls, let’s call them NeNe and DeDe, were trying to get drinks. They were too far back and the girls were tiny, so DeDe climbed in and grabbed as many as she could. My mom and I stood back and waited because the orange juice was in the same case. I was playing 2 for 2 on my phone (judge all you want) and I looked up just as the girls were walking away. NeNe and I made eye contact. NeNe then begins to curse me out, and I mean OUT, y’all.
“Blankity blanks lookin’ at me like I’m crazy. I don’t know what you lookin’ at. Don’t make me go off in here.”
The teacher in me pops out instantly “sweetie, are you talking about me?” She goes off again. I’m trying to walk away, but all I can think about is that this baby is hurting, insecure, and reaching for help. What she didn’t know is the lady she was cursing out doesn’t back down easily.
The scene calms down after my mother fussed at me (she is my mother lol). Three minutes later that same baby girl was standing behind me in line, silent. I couldn’t help myself.
“Sweetie, I really didn’t mean anything when I asked if you were talking about me. You just seemed upset and I wanted to check on you.” Her eyes began to water. I asked her name and age, and her tone was so different, sweet even. She told me. This 14 year old baby had 4 big bags of hot fries and 4 1 liter drinks. Probably dinner from a mother that is tired.
I told her what I do and who I am, and that I work with girls her age every day. I told her she was beautiful. I told her that I understand her anger because when I was 14 I was angry too.
I paid for her and DeDe’s dinner. I told them I loved them, and to go be great. They both smiled and said thank you over and over, their form of an apology.
These babies need love, and y’all tryna put a gun in teachers’ hands.
No. Just, no.
Let me go back. Since January 1, 2018 there have been at least 18 school shootings in the United States. Trump thinks that the best way to fix this is to arm teachers. Some of my social media friends think this is a phenomenal idea, while I, someone who has actually taught real children for five years, stare at my computer screen looking a little like this:
Y’all, that is literally one of the dumbest, most disrespectful, insensitive, outlandishly terrible ideas ever. EVER.
It’s clear that I have personal feelings about this, right? Well, before I step on to my soapbox, let’s state fact.
Who exactly is going to fund this fantabulous atrocity? Currently, school finding is the lowest its been in over 10 years, and before that we were still unable to provide a solid education with the necessary materials on the budget we had. Teachers also don’t get paid their worth (I’m not giving a source here because the source is ME), so if I am required to buy my own glock, bullets, pay for training, insurance, and everything else that comes along with it out of my own money somebody better come up with edible bullets.
In order to be able to effectively handle a gun in an active shooter situation, teachers would need to be trained, and it is not a take one class and print a certificate type thing. It is a consistent, military-style training, that would take years to develop, test, execute and reproduce across the country. Then, when all the teachers of the countries are American Snipers (pun intended,) we just have to hope that the gun is powerful enough to take on whatever the active shooter has, while missing every innocent child we are attempting to protect. The joy.
I know what I typed. If safety is the reason you believe teachers should have guns, tell me, please, how that will make schools any safer. I mean, teachers have shot themselves at school by mistake and were permitted to carry a gun. It only takes one time, particularly when thinking about urban communities and the constant ending of black lives by police officers, for one white teacher to be startled by a tardy black boy in a hoodie to “fear for their life” and kill him, right there. Will that death be justified? Will the way witnessing a murder will effect those other black babies in the classroom make it all worth it, just because it wasn’t someone from the outside coming in?
I went to a high school with one metal detector that we all just walked around. It being there did not make me feel any safer. But I have, however, gone to support my students at basketball games and had to walk through detectors, be wanded, empty my pockets, and very close to squat and cough, and I was terrified. If I was, I know for a fact that my kids, who stay at the school until after 6 just so that they can have somewhere safe to be would not feel the same way if Mr. Eugene had to look at the contents of their book bag on a conveyor belt.
Let’s be real, y’all. Giving out more guns is not going to fix the problem, but rewriting and developing stronger gun control laws will. The fact that I have to take off my shoes to get on an airplane because one guy attempted to make a shoe bomb proves that laws can be changed and will be changed when those at the top have something to gain from it. Besides, if you got your gun the right way, or will still be able to if the law changes, what you mad about anyway?
I am a teacher. That job means that I am also a mother, therapist, enforcer, lover, reproacher, guide, friend, enemy, chef, nurse, authority, and many other things to my babies that look up to me not out of fear, but appreciation. I could not, in my right mind, effectively love them the way I do with a weapon on my waist. They wouldn’t let me, and I don’t blame them.
I am one of the few black teachers my kids have. Their experiences with white people are only as authority figures, and although my coworkers do an excellent job building loving and lasting relationships with our kids, I know for a fact that if our kids saw them with guns, all that time spent building up that trust would be null and void. My coworkers don’t deserve that either.
If you do not stand in front of 78 kids every day for hours and try your best to undo the negative experiences they have had with education, create a safe space with and for them, and dry their tears when they lose their big brothers and little sisters from the same weapon lawmakers want you to carry, then please, don’t come for me. My kids, your kids, every single kid, deserves to be able to walk into their school building and not be afraid that someone from outside of their building — or inside their building — will end their lives with guns. The answer is not in me strapping up. The answer lies in white men getting over themselves and doing something for others for once in their lives (emphasis on white men because, patriarchy) and putting truly enforceable restrictions on gun purchases. Nobody needs an assault rifle unless they plan on assaulting someone anyway.