Freddie Gray’s death while in custody, and the riots that followed, had everyone talking in school the other day. I was angered, but not surprised, to hear students — and even teachers — calling the rioters “thugs,” “idiots,” and “animals.” Never mind that African-American teenagers are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than white teens, or that in Baltimore, more than 25 percent of African-Americans live below the poverty line.
This week I realized how prevalent this so-called casual racism is among high school students. For our nation to move forward, we don’t just need legislative change; we need an ideological shift. And it must start from our schools.
We need an education system that informs kids of the nation’s deep problems and challenges them to seek new perspectives. Only then will our students support oppressed citizens instead of defending the oppressive system.
The writer is a junior at Perry Hall High School.