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Monday, February 13, 2017

"School to Prison Pipeline"


I wish our schools encouraged this type of scholarship. It's truly admirable:
When most kids are told to do Social Studies projects, they huff and puff at the sound of school work which would potentially take away their afterschool play time. That wasn’t the case for young Jalen Kennedy, a sixth grader at Morehouse Magnet School in Bastrop, LA. When Jalen received his assignment he was excited. “My family talks about these issues all the time so this would be a good opportunity to share the truth,” he said.

Kennedy submitted his study as a project in the Region 3 Social Studies Fair. His work was so well researched and presented that he won 1st Place and will use the project to compete at the Louisiana State Finals in Lake Charles in March. His project, School to Prison Pipeline: Is This The New System of Jim Crow?, touched very controversial issues which have plagued the African-American community for decades.

His research was so well constructed that his quotes and subject matter created discussions in Facebook and Twitter chatrooms. Before Kennedy and his family knew it, it was being discussed on syndicated radio shows and was even introduced nationally by Syndicated Radio Host/Comedian DL Hughley. Within two days Kennedy’s research had been shared with over 75,000 people across America.

“I was very confident I would be given proper credit for my project but I actually expected them to find something wrong with it. Most people don’t want to accept the truth about the system of racism and injustice in America,” he said.
The young man gets this from somewhere or at least his interest in these issues:
Growing up in a very socially conscious household leaves young Jalen ostracized at times because many of his peers are not interested in these issues. His mother, Chastity Kennedy, is a member of the Morehouse Parish School Board in Bastrop, LA. His stepfather, Craig Lee, is a Community Activist in Shreveport. “We make sure our kids are well informed and engaged. Jalen is very bright but so is our daughter. They read. They teach their friends and most importantly they are not afraid to ask questions,” said Chastity Kennedy. “We know these kids are being prepared for leadership but we are even more humbled that they know and have already accepted the responsibility to build their peers,” she added.

In research for his project, Jalen says some of the information was heartbreaking even to him. “I learned that 37% of prison inmates are African American. The reason this statistic shocked me is because African-Americans represent less than 15% of the total population in America,” he said. “The government is allowing FOR-PROFIT CORPORATIONS to build and operate prisons, and they are basing the number of future prisons to build on the reading and comprehension levels of 3rd and 4th grade elementary students,” he explained.

When comparing statistics of today with statistics of the Jim Crow period, Jalen’s research proved nothing has changed. “Black people are still the number one target for discrimination and oppression in America. Most of the issues of yesterday are still critical today, like the lack of school resources for Black children, the lack of employment opportunities, and housing discrimination. It is still the same. Integration gives us the illusion that progress is being made but the system has never changed,” he says.
I hope that Mr. Kennedy will publicly publish his conclusions in the near future. He's already making an impact and for that I certainly salute him.

Found another article on this.

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