Peggy  Mativo-Ochola orginally wrote a post reflecting on aspects of representation at graduation. Graduation is important, but it is more important to use our voices to sit with the members of our community who are hurting.

As we sit in the silence
Black children learn that our bodies are human shields.
Tiny, cute human shields.
That can protect our parents.

If I hold his hand, if I walk next to him,  
Dad can take a safer walk.
Maybe, he can be seen as a person. 

Black children learn that our voices are human shields. 
We learn to beg, cry, plead: 
“Dad, pleeeease don’t jog there.”
Because your shield has failed. 

Black children learn, we quickly learn,
That the world doesn’t see our parents as we see them.
So, we start to ask:
Officer, will you shoot us?

Black children learn that childhood walks away.

Our parents need to give us the ‘talk.’
Not the one about birds and bees… the ‘other’ talk
Before it’s too late. 

Officer, “I’m Ariel S. Williams… and I’m eight years old. 
I am unarmed... I have nothing that will hurt you.

Black children, we learn to memorize this script. 
To say these words over and over again. 
Over and over again. 

Because someday, we know,
We all know,
That our shields will also fail. 

I’ve read your curriculum, America. 
I’m confused. 
What do you want your black children to learn?
From Emmett Till until today, 
What do you want black children to learn?

Is there an America for a people whose shields have failed?