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Monday, May 09, 2005 

Should have known

Kevin Francois found himself in the national spotlight last week when he was suspended for ten days after "he became very belligerent and very threatening to [a teacher]" after she demanded that he stop speaking with his mother, who happens to be a soldier serving in Iraq. The outcry was immediate, and rightly so. However, when I initially read about Kevin's story something smelled strangely familiar.

Luckily for Mr. Francois, the media attention his story drew has persuaded the school administration to "commute his sentence" to the two days he has already served. A photograph of Kevin Francois was included in CNN's follow-up story, and I was immediately reminded of the strangely familiar stench I had smelled last week. Kevin Francois is a teenage Black male. In light of this fact phrases such as "very belligerent," "threatening" and "behavior expectations" have incredibly loaded meanings. The race of the teacher is unclear, but it doesn't really matter either way. The people of this country ought to be outraged at what has happened to Kevin Francois, but for reasons that go much deeper than the immediate "his momma is in Iraq" line used by reactionaries of all stripes to drum up myths of anti-military bias. Folk should be outraged that we live under a regime that handcuffs little girls who try to hug their teachers and compels mothers to risk their lives "defending" a system that systematically dehumanizes their children.

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