“THE DARK SIDE OF THE FARCE”
I attended a screening of Intelligent Lives not so long ago. It was refreshing to see people with disabilities that I could readily identify with, thriving in supportive environments where their most trusted allies consistently accentuated their positives. Sadly, not everyone with a disability has always been so lucky. For many of us, kids were cruel, especially in adolescence, and school was not a pleasant experience for us growing up because of it. Academically, some of us could do the work, but it was almost always the social aspect of going to school that gave us problems.
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To this day, I’m convinced that the phrase “bullying will not be tolerated” will go down as the biggest farce ever orchestrated in our schools. These are literally just “buzzwords” and they ultimately mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. They’re completely useless to me if no one in our schools is making a conscious effort to enforce them. I don’t appreciate empty promises from people I’m supposed to trust to look out for me during normal school hours who fail miserably in the endeavor. I never have.
Furthermore, bullying is not nearly as random as our society makes it out to be. It’s certainly no coincidence who ends up getting bullied by who in our schools. It’s nearly always a marginalized student who is being bullied; someone poor, someone fat, maybe they’re mentally ill or developmentally disabled, or maybe they’re Black, Hispanic, Asian, LGBT, or however else they identify themselves. And they’re usually being bullied by someone who feels comfortable bullying them, comfortable in the knowledge that they can and will get away with it.
Bullying in our schools is a direct reflection of the hatred that fuels society at large in our current political climate. Those who are perpetrating the bullying of marginalized students know full well that they will be protected because most teachers will go out of their way to vouch for them when the situation warrants it, and why would they not? Those students have them wrapped around their fingers because they’ve charmed these teachers into thinking that they’re all fine upstanding young people when nothing could be further from the truth.
It should be readily apparent which teachers truly care about their students and which ones are just there to collect a paycheck every week. In my experience, some teachers will only do the bare minimum of what is required of them in the classroom as long as they’re getting paid. These teachers look to all the world like they could hardly be bothered to address issues that would come up in the classroom. They would just as soon send students to the principal’s office and let them deal with the problem.
It’s a raw kind of hurt when people look at you like you’re “fresh meat.” It doesn’t feel good to go to school consistently trying to find ways to survive and get through each day without going crazy because you can’t depend on anyone to do anything constructive to help you with any issues you’re having as they come up in the classroom. Some of us couldn’t finish school soon enough, and then people wonder why we were in such a hurry to get out of there. Hopefully, over time, this experience will become the exception, instead of the rule, as long as we keep fighting for what we believe in and continue altering our society’s perceptions of people like us.
Published September 25,2019