This piece was initially published September 20, 2016 on The Rapidian and written by Director of Strategic Programs, Breannah Alexander.
Growing up, I was never allowed to play with toy guns; this restriction came without explanation or justification. That was the way it was. I was once gifted this really cool wooden rubber band gun – it was placed in the trash. Anything closely resembling a gun was forbidden (thank god Super Soakers and Nerf guns are too ridiculous looking to ever be confused for a real gun). But that was my life growing up; restrictions that never quite made sense but were never questioned because questioning the decision of a parent just wasn’t culturally acceptable. It also wasn’t necessary, because nothing seemed abnormal about those restrictions. Let me rephrase: the restrictions placed on us by our parents were simply things “good parents” did. Age has taught me that those restrictions were things “black parents who don’t want to bury their kids” did.
That was my reality and that is the reality of many Grand Rapids Public Schools students and some Forest Hills students. Read more