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Education: The Rotten Tree

First Published April 18th, 2021

· education

I'm taking a moment to write about the profound, heartfelt commentary from Trevor Noah on the painful, double standard treatment of American policing regarding black people. If you haven't had a chance to watch the video, before reading anymore of my opinion here, please watch - Trevor asks the question, "Where are the good apples?" in the police force to protect citizens from the "bad apples" who must be rooted out of the police system. He makes mention of the Dereck Chauvin trial where Dereck is on trial but there were actually 4 cops allowing the Dereck Chauvin to kill George Floyd. Those cops also allowed the death of Mr. Floyd to be recorded without any regard to human life. The end of Trevor's commentary is marked with a profound statement "It's not broken, it's working the way it's designed to work... We're not dealing with bad apples, we're dealing with a rotten tree..."

The Atlantic,, wrote "Police officers in the United States engage in all manner of bad behavior, such as excessive force, sexual misconduct, financial impropriety, and the manipulation of evidence. Holding them to account criminally, civilly, or professionally is extremely difficult, even in cases involving blatant malpractice and misconduct. Yet, even as bad cops evade punishment for wrongdoing, those who stand up to corruption, report negligence or abuse, or decline to comply with bad orders are frequently marginalized, demoted, or outright fired.

In my new reading of Atomic Habits by James Clear, page 33 wrote "Behind every system of actions are a system of beliefs." The page goes on to say, "There are a set of beliefs and assumptions that shape the system, an identity behind the habits. Behavior that is incongruent with the self will not last." Trevor's commentary on the double standard treatment of American policing can be applied to most institutions that are the foundational pillars of this country. We see a double standard treatment in healthcare, government, economics and, especially, in education. The rotten tree that came with the founding of this nation is racism. wrote "Christopher Columbus likely transported the first Africans to the Americas in the late 1490s on his expeditions to Hispaniola, now part of the Dominican Republic. Their exact status, whether free or enslaved, remains disputed. But the timeline fits with what we know of the origins of the slave trade. European trade of enslaved Africans began in the 1400s. “The first example we have of Africans being taken against their will and put on board European ships would take the story back to 1441,” says Guasco, when the Portuguese captured 12 Africans in Cabo Branco—modern-day Mauritania in north Africa—and brought them to Portugal as enslaved peoples."

Compare 550 years of a belief that black and brown people are inferior to white people to the 60 plus years since 1954. The year, 1954, marks the beginning of the civil rights movement. We have made superficial strides since the civil rights movement but we can also see the double standard that resulted in one race feeling a need to subjugate another in many forms from a black persons' birth in healthcare, through unequal education to employment discrimination and housing discrimination through credit, lending and redlining practices. Racism, beyond systemic discriminatory practices of the institution, is the rotten tree. A country based on freedom, majority rule and socioeconomic inequality while institutionalizing slavery for economic gain is NOT a democracy. The racist belief shapes the actions found many institutions that continue to subjugate black and brown people post the civil rights movement. The belief saw the deaths of Malcolm X, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Philando Castille, Tamir Rice, Saundra Bland, Daunte Wright and countless others. The belief also saw slain leaders of the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther party, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, again, by the police.

Being black and dying from the hands of the police, unfortunately, is nothing new. Our current policing system had its founding in the lawful activity of capturing slaves. Black and brown people have to continue to build our own institutions to feed a system FREE of racism. We must define a network of health care providers who can be found using technology, homeschool our children, build our own lending institutions that provide homeownership opportunities, support black businesses and ride the wave of financial reinvestment in the HBCU system for collective economic empowerment ( It is quite clear in my conscious that the actions are just a result of a 600 year old belief system rooted in racism. The rotten tree is the belief that white people are superior. The birth right of skin color allows one race to subjugate another. WE, black Americans, must unite behind a system of black institutions to BECOME the change we seek to build a true democracy.

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