Upon entering a school I support, I noticed an irate black male student who was completely tuned out and ignoring everyone. I gently walked up to the young brother and said “Hello my name is Dr. Jackson but most people call me Dr. J. I have a few questions I would like to ask you.

1.) If you don’t feel like answering now that’s fine. Is it okay for me to come back in five minutes?
Him – He looked at me in the center of my eyes and nodded his head and said “Yes Sir.”

2.) I just wanted to let you know that you have the right to feel the way you are feeling and no one has the right to tell you otherwise. Additionally, the reason you’re upset is not just about this incident, but it’s much more than this situation am I correct?
Him – Yes Sir!

Immediately after my meeting with the administrator, I asked the young man would he like to walk and talk with me? I told him he didn’t have to but I would appreciate his company.
Him – It’s okay it’s cool we can walk and talk.

We sat down and talked about everything but his infraction. We were laughing, joking, and he was admiring how everyone kept complimenting me on my suit, shoes, and belt. He said I was “dripping.” We eventually got around to the infraction and he was blatantly honest with me. After speaking with him about his reaction and response he agreed he was wrong and stated that he feels as if he’s a target. After a brief dialogue, he was perplexed when I told him I felt the adults were wrong in the situation and we went into a deep discussion about behavior patterns, perceptions, and how there are times one can assist others in having a negative perception of them. He appreciated the sharing of knowledge and said he can see how others feel that way, but still felt a reset button should be pressed every day.

After about 10 more minutes of dialogue, I noticed the teacher and administrator and invited them into our conversation. When he joined we allowed him to talk without interruption. Once finished the administrator began to talk. The student aggressively jumped into the conversation. I immediately reminded him that no one interrupted him while he was talking and he would do the same. He responded with a gentle “Yes Sir.”

Once the administrator finished their discussion, they apologized for the student feeling the way he felt about school and asked him two questions: 1) why do you feel as if you’re being targeted; and 2) why are you so defensive and disrespectful to us when we’re talking to you and we’re trying to help you?

I asked him to stand up and speak clearly to the group when he respond. He said yes sir, stood up, cleared his throat, and what he said touched my soul.

Student Response

I apologize but I’ve Been a Target Every Since I Was Lil. This is how it is in society and school. Let me explain. It started in elementary school, I would always get in trouble for things I felt I shouldn’t have.

If I knew the answer and yelled it out I got in trouble. I was just excited and wanted to make sure I was heard and didn’t want the teacher to call on anyone else. I remember that school year, I only knew the answer about three times during the year and got in trouble for being excited and yelling out the answer every time.

Also, I would get in trouble for reading words on the wall and not putting my hands on my hip and my finger on my lip. I didn’t like that. I used to like trying to figure out the words I didn’t know on posters, but that got me in trouble too.

Y’all, I don’t like being still for an hour while the teacher talks. I like to move and would get in trouble for just getting up and stretching. It’s crazy!

Also in school, I was always told to stop talking when the person was talking to me and I was just listening. I was always blamed for talking even if I wasn’t.

And when I would enter the school and classroom, I heard the noise about me from teachers and students, “there he go or he’s here today,” but there was no noise for other students. I heard them all.

You see I’m a target everywhere. In the grocery store, in department stores, in the mall, walking down the street, and even at school. And to answer your question it’s not you and I apologize but it’s years of anger build-up from walking in a place where people should believe in me, inspire me, and give me something to look forward to but I’m targeted at school as well, not only by teachers of other races but even my people. Please forgive me for my behavior.

I felt him in my soul as I too have been a target in the mall, the grocery store, restaurants, airports, and even while jogging. So I felt the statement as “I’ve Been a Target Every Since I Was Lil.” too. ~ Dr. J