In the days following the death of Terence Crutcher, America has been, once again, plunged into a national conversation about police brutality against black people. But while the debate on the subject rages on across the country, the Tulsa, Oklahoma, community where Crutcher was shot has been working to find ways to cope with the aftermath.
One teacher has given a heartbreaking glimpse into what it’s like to talk about Terence Crutcher’s death with the young, mostly black students in the community. Rebecca Lee, a teacher at the Kipp Tulsa College Prepatory School (where Crutcher’s daughter reportedly attends), shared a powerful Facebook post on Wednesday describing small group discussions held at the school with fifth-through eighth-grade students to discuss Crutcher and police brutality.
Lee explained that she read a news report about the Crutcher shooting with a group of fifth-graders, who highlighted and underlined the words that stood out for them, which included “fatally shot,” “hands raised,” and “bad dude.” When she asked them how they felt about the story, she wrote that the students replied:
“Why did they have to kill him? Why were they afraid of him? Why does [student] have to live life without a father? What will she do at father daughter dances? Who will walk her down the aisle? Why did no one help him after he was shot? Hasn’t this happened before? Can we write her cards? Can we protest?”
Later in the post Lee writes about why she wanted to share the story on Facebook:
“I share this story, because we are creating an identity crisis in all of our black and brown students. (Do I matter? Am I to be feared? Should I live in fear? Am I human?) We are shaping their world view with blood and bullets, hashtags and viral videos. Is this how we want them to feel? Is this how we want them to think?”
As of Thursday, the post has been shared over 62,000 times. Read it below.