Joseph N. Cook

Why Aren't Black Students Allowed to Be Kids?

I went to a predominantly white high school and then to a historically black university. Each of these institutions, at some point, plastered posters featuring this visual: President Obama with his arms crossed, juxtaposed with a black youth wearing sagging pants whose body was marked with a big “X.” The poster included a snarky caption that read something like, “To get ahead, you must pull your pants up your behind.” The message was clear to my friends and me: We didn’t matter to anyone if we looked “black.”

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