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Willie Richardson / January 24, 2020

The 21st Century Content of Character Minority Report

Discipline problems with black students are caused by a lack of character, not color.

“I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where they will [not be judged] by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Nonetheless, when you evaluate minority children in education, the numbers are staggering concerning character. For example, the Minneapolis school district suspends an unconscionable number of black students compared with white ones, and it’s struggling to figure out why. Spoiler alert: It’s because of the lack of character! There, I said it.

In 2017, districtwide, black students made up 41% of the overall student population but accounted for 76% of the suspensions. Numbers like that prompted Barack Obama’s administration in 2014 to draft tough new policies to try to address racial disparities in school discipline across the country. It was called “Rethink Discipline.” I could have solved this “rethinking discipline” problem a long time ago. There was once a time that a principal had the authority to discipline students on sight for insolent insubordination. That discipline forced you to “rethink” your behavior.

Unfortunately, at Justice Page Middle School, African-American students are 338% more likely to be suspended than their white peers. “It’s painful sometimes,” Principal Rathke said, “but I have to say, ‘Yes, that’s probably true.’”

Does brown skin have a disproportionate melanin count that turns children into menaces to society? No! Do minority children have a biological bent toward violent behavior and talking back to teachers? Absolutely not. So what is the problem? Negligent parenting and low character.

Dr. King wanted his children to be judged by others according to the “content of their character.” However, we had President Obama chiming in and making excuses for bad behavior amongst minorities.

According to Ann Coulter, teachers in St. Paul, Minnesota, have been hospitalized and permanently disabled by their “disruptive” African-American students, thanks to former St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Valeria Silva’s commitment to ending the “school-to-prison pipeline.” One kid was “disruptive” by punching and strangling a science teacher, giving him a concussion and permanent brain injuries. The African-American student walked away from the teacher’s body splayed out on the floor, saying, “Did you see me slam that white-a— teacher?” This “disruptive” thug was sentenced to 90 days house arrest and probation.

Fast forward to today, and the Trump administration is trying to reverse those “rethinking discipline” policies in part, administration officials say, as a response to school shootings.

Today, many minorities would rather their character be overlooked and blame anyone of judging their character as automatically racist or mean. Was Dr. King’s dream for his children to be judged by their character instead of their color more of a fairytale than a reality? Even the Bible speaks against people judging based off appearance, yet many do it still. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

God was not saying, “Don’t judge.” He was saying do not judge based on “appearance.” We are to judge righteously. This righteous judgment includes character, conduct, and behavior. If Dr. King had to judge the character of minority students in our public education system today what would he say?

Personally, I have a desire from God to love and train my children in such a way that their lifestyles will be shaped by Christ’s character and, no matter how people view them from the outside, I want their lights to so shine from the inside that men might see their good character and glorify the God of Heaven.

This is the world and it is evil. Changing the world will not happen. However, changing your own thinking can change your own world. Let’s rethink character.

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