This past Friday, my 11-year-old son, Elias, asked me to have a seat on the couch so we could talk. Gladly, and slightly amused, I sat down to hear what he had to say. He told me that he and the rest of the fifth graders at his school had been involved in a protest at school. The school is located in Brooklyn, NYC. At first I was thinking, I am so glad he goes to such a progressive school, where the staff must be teaching these kids to protest and fight for their rights. But the more he discussed it, the more I realized that it was not a lesson or anything arranged by or with faculty, but that these kids decided they were facing an injustice at school and they wanted to make a change for themselves. The issue at hand – the students wanted to read the book “the hunger games” on school grounds and during school time, but had been told they could not borrow it from the library because of their age. They also want to read it, if they can access it, during reading time which also was not allowed.
Their solution was take to the hallways, create posters to hang, and chant “NO HUNGER GAMES – NO PEACE” together at different times over several days in the school. I had to be extremely careful of my reaction, knowing he was watching for it, but this was a hard one for me. On one hand I want my child to stand up for his rights, on the other hand I want him to be able to have good relationships with those in authority over him and be able to take no for an answer at times. I also think that if more people stood up together and immediately did so when they saw an injustice the ever so slow changes in this world in regards to racism, and every other -ism would not be happening so slowly. After his explanation of the events that occurred, he then told me about the administration’s response at school and the students collective interpretation of the school admins response.
Honestly, I could not have been prouder than I was at that moment. These kids are so smart, and learning to fight for their rights and this is what I hope and believe will make more change for his and future generations. Regardless of what their injustice is at this moment more importantly they are organizing and practicing their fight pretty early. That’s the bigger lesson. I told him how I really felt about it.