There is no end to the discussion about the failures of No Child Left Behind. A lot of it centers on the systemic failure and persistent underachievement of black children. The President and his men have reconstructed the education debate so that it revolves around metrics and statistical trends on meaningless standardized tests. Ironically, it is the disguises of Halloween that reveal the real damage that society has inflicted on black children.
My wife and I were eating dinner with a too cute “biting scary cat” when there was a loud pounding, not knocking, on the door. The biting scary cat dropped her broccoli and flew to the door screaming, “the trick or treaters are here, the trick or treaters are here!" When we opened the door there was a group of six or seven black kids ranging from about 3 to 13 years old. None of them had on costumes. One of them boldly and gruffly said, “trick or treat” and they all extended their plastic bags. I said, “But hold up, none a yall have on costumes. What’s up with that?” The biting scary cat had the bowl of candy in her hands and turned to my wife and me and asked, “how come they don’t have on costumes?”
“Cuh we broke.”
I was instantly crushed. Creativity does not cost. On the contrary, it supposedly flourishes in the face of limited resources. Apart from that, listening to this little girl look us straight in the face and say, “cuh we broke,” hurt. What I heard in her response was, “because we’ve surrendered.” They were not bothered by their lack of effort. It did not seem to occur to them that they ought to be uncomfortable, if not embarrassed, to be asking for candy on Halloween at a stranger’s doorstep without a costume of any kind. The compounding weights of low expectations and poor education are not only stifling their creativity, but are undermining their pride in themselves.
When my wife told the biting scary cat to give them some of the candy they grabbed handfuls each and we had to tell them not to take it all. They turned to start down the steps without a word. The biting scary cat looked back at us again and said, “Mommy, they didn’t say thank you.” On hearing that, one of them threw a thank you over her shoulder as they continued down the steps.
I turned back inside in a combination of anger and sadness. My wife suggested that we take the biting scary cat trick or treating to some of our friends in the neighborhood. As we turned up our block we saw the same kids riding in a car with the radio blasting 8Ball & MJG’s, “Alcohol, Pussy and Weed.” A three year old in a car listening to alcohol, pussy and weed? How does that happen? and what does it say? In my mind it says the same, that we have surrendered.
And the night got worse.
When we came back, the biting scary cat returned to a little girl and went to sleep around nine o’clock. At about ten o’clock I was watching HBO on-demand boxing, Manny Pacquiao versus Marco Antonio Barrera, when there was another pounding on the door. I couldn’t believe it. This time, there was a young brother maybe 14 years old with a little boy that was either 3 or 4. Again, neither of them had on costumes. From the same bag of gruffness as the other girl he said, “trick or treat.” I said, “Yo!! You don’t have on a costume and its 10 o’clock.”
He smiled and said, “I’m a crook.”
“What do you mean you’re a crook?”
“This is how crooks be looking, I got on a black T.”
I think its surrender.