“We try to teach our young boys that there are other career options than gangsters or sportspeople”.
This is what a well-known educator said to our WPI-group at a low-income neighborhood in Minneapolis.
Police shootings in the US (including Minnesota) have been largely reported also in Finland, but from far away situation seemed to be merely about the violence. The diversity of the issue has started to interfere with my understanding only after coming to the US.
”Black lives matter” -movement points out that the history of the police force can be found in the history of slavery – the origins are in the very first slave patrols, and the activists of today claim that there still is an implicit bias in the police training.
Activists also point out that people of color are much more likely to be arrested for minor things than population in general. Arrest even for minor causes can be an enormous economic burden. Buying a house or anything on credit becomes very hard.
We will soon hear the narrative of the local police force. What is it like to work as an police officer right now? How careful can the police get in the black communities – even too careful? Would it sometimes be easier just look at the other direction when everything one does can be streamed alive?
Education certainly is one. This could clearly be seen as we visited a charter school for low-income children in Minneapolis. “Educations is the foundation for community development”, says Eric Mahmoud, the founder of Harvest school.
The school has 1300 students and is planning to expand. It aims to teach children sense of control, since they often don´t have a middle class culture backing their self-esteem. They are taught to break the stereotypes and fight for their rights. “They can become lawyers, judges”.
“Our students don´t need integration, they need education”, says Eric Mahmoud. There certainly isn´t much of integration: 95 % of the students are black. Critics claim that segregation in education can not be a solution for children living in an integrated society.
Harvest School in Minneapolis has achieved academic success and it is doing quite well economically. It´s the job of policymakers to assure that the low-income children with other ethnic backgrounds have equal opportunities to succeed. Worst-case-scenario would be some children being more equal than others.
One of the walls in the Harvest school is covered with childrens´ dreams: Pieces of paper with a colored faces and dreams for the future. One of them says:
”When I grow I want to be a Policoficer”
Hard work and education is all you need!
(spelling not being the main concern).