Pit Bulls and ClockersLast year I went to visit a child’s house during the first week of school. I was greeted by two pit bulls. One was happy to see me, and one was not. I was content to stay on the other side of the door. When a first grader invited me in, I asked for an adult who removed the dogs from the scene before I entered the house. During the course of the year I ran into those pit bulls on several occasions. Perhaps the biggest pit bull was the child’s father, who died a violent death this past summer, a victim of the combative life he allegedly led.
The clockers incident occurred this past week in a new neighborhood, at a new school. They ignored me when I drove by, but immediately eyed me as I parked my car. The car caused confusion because it was clearly not a cop car. It was evident though, I was in a neighborhood in which I did not belong. My Black friends have told me when canvassing neighborhoods for political campaigns, I can appear very cop like, meaning; folks don’t answer their door when I knock.
The clockers stood as I approached the house. I spoke first, “Relax fellas, I’m just a teacher, looking for Joanne Doe’s house.” It calmed them right down. They cheerfully directed me to a house just on the other side of their domain. Here there were no pit bulls, and at first there was no answer. It was obvious though, that I was clocker approved, and shortly the door opened. The aged woman answering the door was reluctant to invite me in. I persisted, and got my conversation resulting in a conference the next day at school.
In the long run, despite my best efforts, the willingness to face up to Pit Bulls and Clockers, I doubt my labors and good intentions had any effect on the outcome these children will face. They have bigger obstacles in life than getting bad grades and poor behavior reports in school.
The fact is people who live in Spain learn Spanish, and people who are born to English speaking parents in America learn English. What we all learn, is how to survive in our environment. For these two children, one raised in violent environment, one raised in a drug environment, they have learned what their parents taught them. My job is to undo that. It should be easy. The people who taught them first, whom despite their shortcomings were loved by their children, are both dead.