Tonayia Coffer is the mother of four children and a member of the Parents United Leadership Collective in Philadelphia, PA.
Today my ten year old son brought home a writing assignment. His instructions were to print out the lyrics of his favorite song and write about what it means to him. Sounds simple enough.
My son happens to be a fan of Michael Jackson thanks to Mom and Dad’s old CDs and “The Experience” dance game for the Wii. So he tells me that he wants me to print “They Don’t Care About Us.” Knowing the lyrics myself, I felt this was a very deep song for a 4th grade assignment and was curious to know why my son selected this song for his assignment. So I asked, “Do you know what the words in this song mean?”
He looks at me as if I were from Mars and says, “I know some of the words but it is my favorite song to dance to on the Wii.” So my husband and I go into a short lecture on how important it is to understand the words that you put your body in motion to. We pull up the lyrics to the song and my husband reads them aloud and then plays the song for my son to hear again, this time with extra attention to the lyrics. I knew in my mind where this assignment was headed as the lyrics danced around in my head.
“What recent event does this remind you of?” my husband asked.
My son responds, “Michael Brown and I can’t breathe.” I knew he had watched part of ‘Black & Blue’ on CNN which highlighted the tragic death of Eric Garner.
My heart begins to sink, as I listen to him respond to my husband’s questioning. The chorus replays in my head, “All I wanna say is that They don’t really care about us.”
Tears begin to roll down as I watch the look of terror on my son’s face as my husband explains who the “they” can be, how the ”they” may view him as a young black boy, and how the “they” may mistreat him or try to punish him.
Read Coffer’s full article here – http://parentsunitedphila.com/2014/12/09/brown-garner-and-other-tragedies-under-the-michael-jackson-microscope-true-story/