Thoughts on POC youth representation on social media

  
Watching my former students grow up online is such a wild experience. I love and miss you all. I want to throw a large tuxedo jacket over you and cover you up or push those middle fingers down in some of your photos but I still love you lol. 

Doesn’t make me feel like I didn’t do my job in our time together. Just reminds me that growing up is a process that does not take place within the calendar year an educator spends with a group of students. 
It’s what you impart upon them that they will carry for life that counts. It’s also a reminder that no one facet of a persons persona, especially online, tells the whole story. 
Knowing these kids personally, I am not blind to their goodness and humanity when I see photos of them rolling blunts or mean mugging, but someone on the outside looking in will obviously make assumptions. 
In the context of the world we live in, it’s an unfortunate truth that makes our kids extremely vulnerable to ignorance and violence simply because they are finding themselves on a public forum. 
This is so relevant when you consider how kids like Kimani Gray, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin were demonized based on certain narratives that were strengthened with the use of very specific images. 
It’s very important that we see the humanity in our youth, regardless of their online antics. 
I’ve conversed with far too many people who have a ‘well why would they do that if they didn’t want people to look at them a certain way?’ Mentality, and that, coming from us, is a detriment to young people of color. 
The world is already full of people looking for a reason to demonize these kids. Do not help them. 

Knuckleheads come in all shapes, sizes & ethnicities. Do not be complicit in the criminalization of our youth simply for being young. We were all young & dumb once.

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