Protect Our Black Children

Time and time again we are reminded that Black children are considered less "childlike" by mainstream society. They are often not given the benefit of the doubt and are blamed for whatever trouble they experience. The dehumanization of black children has occurred for centuries, and yet again was demonstrated when a recent footage showed an African American teenage girl body slammed and then dragged from her chair by Deputy Ben Fields with the subsequent support of the deputy's actions by the student's African American teacher.

This video showcases that law enforcement does not treat our children with respect, but with behavior reserved for dangerous animals. The video is only appalling and disturbing, not least because it illustrates abusive and criminal behavior on behalf of the officer. A police officer should never resort to body slamming a young child unless it is a life or death situation. Deputy Fields failed to consider the impact his actions would have on that young girl and her classmates who witnessed this brutalization. Once again our children's welfare, mental health, stability and educational attainment are not valued as highly as our majority counterparts, even by educators that share their background. The video is not only appalling and disturbing, but also illustrates abusive and criminal behavior on behalf of the officer. His actions were unconscionable. Equally as appalling were her teacher's insinuations that the little girl deserved such treatment.

Deputy Fields could've used other, less violent means to remove the student from the situation, preventing its escalation. He could've used his words to negotiate a peaceful exit instead of forcing her to comply. The teacher could have summoned the school's psychologist or social worker to help deescalate the encounter. Instead, Deputy Fields and the girl's teacher apparently wanted to make an example of that child to all who were watching. There could've been a multitude of reasons for her refusal. Instead both men chose to traumatize the young girl and her classmates and reinforce an inaccurate narrative that the majority of white officers are racist and abusive.

This obviously was not Deputy Field's first excessive use of force and misuse of authority. What also pains me, however, is the lack of outrage from this young lady's teacher who witnessed the excessive force and didn't feel compel to step in out of concern for a student in his charge. To say she deserved it was as bad as the officer's physical actions.

Who can we count on to protect our children if the police and their teachers believe it is justifiable to treat them like animals?