Stand up for targets of aggressions

Last May we saw George Floyd brutally killed by a now ex-Minneapolis police officer. With this along with Ahmad Arbery’s murder in Feburary, Breonna Taylor’s murder following the next month in March and many more victims through the year. 

Black Lives Matter or BLM rose up protesting the tragic events. Even in Cedar Falls protests began to pop up with several local groups calling for justice and even CFHS’s own protest February of 2021. 

But sadly as protests began to die down and BLM became another political hashtag for many, things began to slip. 

In recent news Kyle Rittenhouse, a man who had opened fire on three people at a BLM protest was allowed to walk, and sadly many students are falling to their classmates racist taunts. One shocking headline from PennLive Patriot News reads “Death of Utah girl draws anger over suicides, racism: ‘It just hurts to know that my baby was bullied all day.” The reason the article title is so shocking? It’s about 10-year-old Isabella ‘Izzy’ Tichenor. An autistic black girl living in Draper, Utah, Izzy had been harassed for not only her skin color and for being neurodivergent, but also for her facial features, smell, etc. Several articles from multiple news plugs have covered the topic. 

Since early November, Izzy’s story has been reported on but this report from Dec. 1 shows some of the “best highlights” for anyone who needs catching up. Written by Brady McCombs for The Associated Press, the article details the events that have taken place both before and after the tragedy of the young girls suicide. 

Frankly there isn’t much to say: a 10-year-old commited suicide. Someone whose main concern should be how to comprehend indirect evidence in her books was instead trying to comprehend the best way to take her own life. And sadly due to her age, fragile size and a lack of suspicion, she did take her life. 

Unlike a teen who would be surveilled after these events constantly, no one expects a child to try to commit or even to know what suicide is. So while we don’t know how she did it, it likely wasn’t hard for her to find a way online to quickly and quietly do the unthinkable without tipping anybody off. It’s sickening and heartbreaking and for many impossibly enraging. 

Racist children and lazy adults in this family’s life cost them a life that the antagonizers probably couldn’t care less about. We allow children to be unfathomably cruel, and we hand them slurs and insults like ammunition without teaching them gun safety and then blame the victims when their Kevlar is defective. 

Rather than teach white children that they are inherently privileged and therefore have more power in these situations, we as a society expect BIPOC children and black girls especially to grow up decades faster than their peers and create safeguards both physical and emotional against racism. 

And for those who can’t build those safeguards against hate-crimes and microaggressions, like neurodivergent people, since we have little to no real repercussions for those students who make the conscious decision to harm others, we have no protections for them and they are left to dangle bleeding above the shark tank. 

Children who are like Izzy, the children left to the proverbial sharks, need protection before this not only becomes the inevitable but also the expected result. 

And that is where this story becomes local. Our school district is not exactly the most inclusive but that’s another reason to stand up for the few BIPOC kids around us. 

The following is speaking to white students explicitly. If you have the chance, make a stand. Teach your siblings, cousins and if need be your friends what slurs mean and who they hurt when they’re used. Encourage them to speak out against racism. Standing up is hard, but it’s harder when the hate is actually directed towards you. Use your privilege and say what many can’t. Be aggressively proactive and speak out when you hear something that isn’t right. 

Bullying isn’t a dead issue. It’s elementary, and by looking at the circumstances, apparently, child’s play can be deadly.

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