Ezra Jack Keats' enduring words and vivid illustrations are among my favorite children's books because again and again, Keats brought to my consciousness the stories of everyday "black kid heroes". I remember The Snowy Day was on the bookshelves of my childhood home and I remember the long years later, when my nephew Jordon was born, that there was Peter, waiting for him, too. As Jordon experienced snow for the first time, there was Peter. "Plop" easily became the most used of Jordon's first words, especially during snowy winters in Virginia. "The snow fell -- plop, plop, plop".
Juvenile prisons are the reason I am always called back to the intersections of law, civil rights, education, and rehabilitation. The "justice system" fights adamantly to "protect" the identities and the treatment of incarcerated youth. Yet the treatment of youth in prison remains unseen and unchallenged and the system itself is blinded to the torments of our nation's kids. NPR's review of Bernstein's book is raw and riveting, tapping into big hairy realities that plague our culture and our future. Placing America's troubled children in the hands of prison guard brutes absolutely ensures damage that cannot be undone. And it is done intentionally.
I draw attention to this same issue on my webpage, and I will keep drawing attention to it. Juvenile offenders include children who are 10-14 years old. Ten years old. My absolutely beloved and adored nephew, Jordon, is almost 10 years old. My mind is not able to contemplate the magnitude of injury perpetrated against kids forced into detention at this young age. Despite the juvenile justice system handling some of our country's most vulnerable populations, the juvenile justice system remains the most secretive, hidden, covered-up tragedy of the 20th and 21st centuries. We owe it to society to let our research and inquiries take us there, to shine a bright impenetrable light on all that is concealed there however unimaginable, to uncover what is happening to targeted youth populations, and to put all our efforts behind destroying the school-to-prison pipeline.
Teacher, writer, activist, coffee enthusiast, hopeful. Pass it on.