Don’t Choke Our Kids

Jose Vilson Jose

It was the kids who told me that Daniel Pantaleo, Eric Garner’s choker, wasn’t indicted.

Outside at around 2:40pm, the kids approached me from the grocery store, coming back into the school, and said, “Mr. Vilson, they’re getting away with it.”

Unlike my generation, there’s no delusions of racism being isolated to the South, no nuanced understanding of the role police undertaker, and no after-school specials telling us it’s going to be OK.

For them, the idea of a Black president not preventing institutional racism will linger there, with less language for it, but all the rage.

So if you ever get the opportunity to talk to students who are most disenfranchised by the judicial, the executive, and the legislative branches of their country, don’t choke. Matter of fact, don’t choke them. Because it’s not about telling them not to riot. It’s about listening to their feelings and hoping they can create a better tomorrow than the crapshow adults have laid for them.

Don’t choke. Don’t choke our kids. Don’t cut their breath before they’ve even drawn it. Their bubbles were burst long before we came into the picture. It’s our job to arm them with truths and a set of tools to empower them, even if the world we left for them is still too dangerous for their existence.

Don’t choke our kids. Just don’t.