Mit ‘New York’ getaggte Artikel

An open letter to Alexa Gonzalez

In der New York Daily News bin ich auf einen Artikel gestossen, in dem es um einen neuen Auswuchs des “Nanny-State” in den USA geht. Folgendes hat sich in der  Russel Sage Junior High School in Forest Hills im New Yorker Stadtteil Queens abgespielt: Die 12-jährige Alexa Gonzalez hatte während einer Spanisch-Stunde aus Langeweile mit einem Textmarker auf ihrem Tisch herumgekritzelt. Soweit, so unspanned. Auch das sie dabei von einem Leherer erwischt wurde, ist nicht ungewöhnlich, und schon gar keinen Blogartikel wert. Was dann geschah, ist allerdings erstaunlich. Anstatt dem Mädchen eine Strafe aufzubrummen (z.B. die Tische im Klassenraum von Gekritzel zu säubern), ging das ganze an direkt an die stellvertretende Schulleitung. Diese rief umgehend die Polizei, die dann kam und das Mädchen festnahm. Am Ende wurde die 12-jährige in Handschellen (sic!) eskortiert von mehreren Beamten aus der Schule abgeführt, und auf der Wache in eine Zelle gesperrt, in der sie mehrere Stunden ausharren musste.

Inzwischen hat die Stadtverwaltung zwar zugegeben einen Fehler gemacht zu haben, die Schuldirektorin verteidigt das Verhalten der Schule und der Behörden jedoch weiterhin.

Ich dachte mir, das kommentiert man am besten in Form eines offenen Briefes:

Dear Alexa,

through Twitter and the internet, I heard of the incident at your school, that most certainly scared you half to death.

Reading the text in the New York Daily News, my first reaction was a bit like “What?”, and then “Excuse me, WHAT?” First of all, you are not the first student to doodle on your desk, a lot of students do that. I did that when I was at school, and from the layers of black ink on the desk, there where many before me. And yes, I was caught, and spent an amazingly boring 3 hours scraping 5 generations of students signatures from desks in my class room. But I never was arrested for it.

I started to ask myself, what went wrong there. The problem had to go through the hands of at least 4 people: Your teacher, the headmaster (sorry, I think you call them “principals” in the States), the police officer who took the phone call, and the officer who arrested you. And not one of the people stopped and asked themselves: “Wait: Aren’t we slightly overreacting here?” None of them said to any of the other: “Let the girl clean up the desk and give her an afternoon in detention, but don’t bother me!”

So what went wrong? This was not a chain of mishaps, this is a fundamental flaw in the system. To quote Shakespeare  (pretty lame, uh?): “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. I came up with different thoughts on what that is. The most obvious thought that sprung into my mind was : Would this have happened to you, if your name was, say.  Rebecca Simpson, instead of Alexa Gonzalez and you were a blond middle-class girl? Probably not, since there still is a lot of  racism under the surface, even if people aren’t aware of it. So if you were from “different heritage” (that’s a nicer way to say ” a white middle-class brat”), you might have gotten away with a bit of detention.

The other thought I had was, that it has to do with the state of mind people are in, ever since 9/11: Everyone is only thinking the worst of anyone else. So scribbling on your desk is no longer a sign of childish horseplay, but an indicator of juvenile delinquency. That is an alarming development, a clear sign towards a world in which no one can be trusted, and everybody is an enemy. It’s a world I don’t want to live in, and I am certain, you wouldn’t either.

On the question, what you have learned from your exprience, you answered to the newspaper: “I definitely learned not to ever draw on a desk.” I hope you learned more than that., I hope you learned that your generation has to make it better in the future, and succeed were my generation so miserably  failed: To make this a world that is not overwhelmed by their fear of themselves or their own children, but people trust each other, and allow them to make mistakes sometimes.  Stand up for it!

kind regards,