March 24, 2010

A Hero of One?

I have been meaning to blog about an article written in the Philadelpia Inquirer on March 2nd about the racial unrest which took place at South Philadelphia high between Asians and Blacks last semester and how a few (one in particular) teacher were looked upon as being 'heroic' in their efforts to protect the Asian students being beaten up by Black students ( 

There are numerous examples of teacher as 'hero' in our current vernacular (see: Freedom Writers, Dangerous Minds, Stand and Deliver, Lean on Me as examples).  However there are very few if any stories told through the lens of students who are oftentimes the 'silent majority.'  Although I applaud Ms. Sutton-Lawson's behavior and in my own teaching experience know all too well that teachers like her are too rare a comodity in low performing urban public schools, I want to know where were their fellow students in this melee?  Have we produced a generation of youth who are so afraid of stepping up and stopping their peers (i.e. no snitching) that they can passively stand on the sidelines and watch their fellow classmates be beaten (and in the example of the violence which took place outside of a public school in Chicago, killed)?

As an educator and mentor for over fifteen years, I refuse to believe that this generation of youth is so callous and uncaring.  It is up to us as those who work with youth and leaders to perform as admirably as Ms. Sutton-Lawson, but also know we have an army of students behind us doing the same.

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