I am slowly beginning to wean myself off of social media in the mornings. It used to be fun. One could start the day with a dose of information, cuteness and joy.
Instead I now open Facebook and take a deep breath in wonder, “What mean and cruel thing has happened in the world today?” I am relieved when my senses are assaulted with birds dancing to music, children covered in peanut butter, and grandpas amusingly dancing to the music of their grandchildren’s generation.
Today was not one of those days.
A teenage boy made a clock at home and brought it to school. He ended his day in a juvenile detention center because teenage boys of Muslim Sudanese descent living in America should know better.
I find myself thinking what I would have instinctively said to that young man were he my son, nephew, cousin, mentee, or friend, “You cannot make something electronic like this at home and then bring it to school; they’ll think you’re a terrorist.” And instantly I am heartbroken with myself, because even that protective thought is cruel and unfair.
Despite the world around them, in reality what I would say (and what I am saying today) to youth is “No one has the right to limit your potential.”
I am sad. Very sad. Because for so many kids this is their reality, the scars that shape their adolescence and adulthood.
This is the world I live in.
But I haven’t lost all hope.
The candles of creativity and innovation are lit by the flames of curiosity and wonder. What the world needs today is more light. My educator heart breaks for all of the lights we extinguished today.
All is not lost. I am reminded that for every person who blows out a candle, there are several others ready to relight its flame.
I remember that I am a member of a Christian church in Texas that hosts an iftar dinner each year during Ramadan to share a meal and conversation with Muslim members of our community.
And then I read the Comments section of the Dallas Morning News’ story on Ahmed prepared to wince, but instead am surprised at the high volume of commentary in support of this child and others.
And then the #IStandWithAhmed hashtag is born, breathing new air into my life. The world isn’t completely insane.
But, still, there is a child, a child, who now has the memory of what it feels like to be handcuffed and fingerprinted by police. A child whose name will forever be connected to the words arrest, bomb and terrorist whenever his name is googled. And there are children and families who right now are telling themselves, be careful, be safe, it’s too risky, don’t do it.
Youth is supposed to be filled with sparks of wonder, imagination and curiosity.
I refuse to let social media bring me all the way down today. So I’m adding more oxygen to my fire by listening to dose of my freedom song playlist, so that I can be ready to relight those candles whose flames have been temporarily extinguished. I need the reminder that
- Oh Freedom
- Freedom is Coming [Oh Yes I Know]
- Freedom is Coming Tomorrow
- A Change Gone Come
- Someday We’ll All Be Free
For those of us and those of you who felt lights dimmed a little today, in the words of the late Donny Hathaway,
Never mind your fears
Brighter days will soon be here
Take it from me, someday we’ll all be free…