Thursday, November 24, 2016

Jordan Jackson, Bias in U.S. Schools & The Big Con

Jordan Jackson and his 4-year-old sister J'Niahia
Watching different cross sections of the American populace beginning to organize to confront the divisiveness, anger and ethnic and racial hatred channeled by the president-elect and some of his advisers and followers has been one of the more encouraging signs of hope in the wake of the November 8th elections.

A recent incident involving 8-year-old Jordan Jackson, an honor student and athlete at Spanish Lake Primary School in Geismar, Louisiana, reflects the urgent need for that change.

As Brianna Cox reported in an article in The Atlanta Blackstar on Tuesday, Jordan and his 4-year-old sister were waiting to be picked up from school recently when a group of boys, including a 13-year-old, began throwing mulch at the two siblings and taunting them.

When Jordan asked them to stop harassing his younger sister, he was physically pushed to the ground multiple times before one or more of the boys body slammed him to the ground; breaking his arm.

According to Jordan's mother, who teaches in the community, and a fifth-grader from the school who witnessed the incident, Jordan told one of the students, "That's racist!" and the student responded: "You do need to go back to the cotton farm."  

Make no mistake, Donald Trump bears responsibility for this.

The toxic racism, xenophobia and bigotry he actively cultivated inspired a 13-year-old boy to target an innocent 8-year-old honor student minding his own business and standing up for his 4-year-old sister, and then suggest that child needs to "go back" to a state of indentured servitude is as absurd as it is offensive.

How could Trump's bigotry infect a primary
school with such a diverse student body?
Don't get me started on that as-yet-unnamed 13-year-old's parents.

Since the incident, Jordan has been to the hospital at least three times to be treated for a fractured right arm and concussion symptoms and his uncle Cris Colbert set up a GoFundMe page to help with the costs related to his treatment.

According to Colbert, Britton Colon, the principal at the Spanish Lake Primary School, told Jordan's mother Alana Jackson that the school is not liable for the medical bills related to the assault because the student primarily responsible for the attack was not a student at the school and the incident happened after school hours.

This incident has rapidly garnered global media attention so my guess is that we'll probably see what a lawyer has to say about the school not being liable for an assault on an 8-year-old on school grounds.

Similar incidents of verbal and physical assault and harassment in schools across the nation are not unique to Louisiana, Caitlin Dickerson catalogued some of those incidents, including those responsible for them, in an article in the New York Times yesterday.

As I blogged about last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently announced a new online survey of American teachers to update the findings of the Teaching Tolerance project to better analyze the effects of Trump's election on the nation's school children.

Royal Oak Middle School in Michigan
Schools and playgrounds around the country have been defaced by racist graffiti, including swastikas,

In the wake of the election during the week of November 8th, a group of white students at the Royal Oak Middle School in Michigan disrupted a lunch period with loud chants of "Build the wall!"

As a Washington Post article reported, on Monday, the already troubling atmosphere in that school took a more sinister turn last Friday when a student placed a noose in the bathroom.

But despite these kinds of reprehensible incidents occurring in some places of learning around America, organizations and people are stepping up to the plate to address it.

As Eric Lichtblau reported in the New York Times on Tuesday, billionaire investor and Holocaust survivor George Soros pledged $10 million from his foundation to distribute to community groups around the nation to fight incidents of hate.

As the progressive political activist noted in the article, "We must do something to push back against what's happening here."

Amen to that brother.

Paul Newman and Robert Redford in 'The Sting'
As millions of bewildered Americans are only beginning to discover, one of the downsides of having an erratic, quasi-delusional con-man who casually encourages xenophobia and racism as the president-elect is, well, he's an erratic, quasi-delusional con-man who casually encourages xenophobia and racism.

Now if you're in need of a great family film for Thanksgiving Day that people of all ages can (and should) watch, one of my favorite movies is 'The Sting', the 1973 film directed by Walter Hill starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Robert Shaw.

A masterpiece of 1970's filmmaking, it won seven Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.

The story centers on a small-time grifter named Johnny Hooker who seeks out an elusive and mysterious experienced con man named Henry Gondorff in order to learn how to set up a ruthless gangster who murdered one of his friends.

Gondorff teaches Hooker the art of using patience, careful planning and manipulation to play the "Big Con"; a meticulously-planned and highly complex scam meant to take a wealthy "mark" for huge amounts of money without the person even knowing that they've been taken.

To me it's not only entertaining, it serves as a cautionary tale that anyone can be "taken".

As millions of Americans who voted for Donald Trump are starting to learn as he steadily begins to walk away from the bold campaign promises that pushed their buttons and got him elected, they got played by one of the biggest con men of them all.

And some of them, particularly embittered working class folks from rust belt factory towns or rural coal mining communities that have seen the globalization of the economy and unchecked corporate greed take away their jobs and livelihoods, don't even know they've been taken by a con man.

They're still too busy venting their anger and frustration on immigrants, people of color and people who don't worship like them.

It's just sad that someone like 8-year-old honor student Jordan Jackson must pay the price for their ignorance and willingness to be duped by a con man whose self interest is all consuming, and whose ethics are almost nonexistent.

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