LaToya Baldwin Clark

But they are Black, and failing is not an option

The routine does not change.

8:25 am: “It’s time to get up.”

8:35 am: “BOYS, it’s time to get up.”

8:40 am: Deep breath. “I’m getting REALLY annoyed. GET. UP.”

The older two eat quickly and then retreat to their rooms to start the day. We make breakfast for the 3rd grader, usually bacon and maybe an egg or two. We have to be careful to not burn the bacon, and make the egg right, or he won’t eat. I’ve already reached my patience limit. I’ve been awake for 20 minutes.

8:45 am: “M, it’s time to get on your…

To walk and live and breathe constrained by White threat is not to be free at all.

He didn’t complain when I told him we’d be taking a weekend trip, an opportunity to change our surroundings. He’s newly 15-years-old, a man-child in all ways: loves yelling at video games but finds his 8-year-old brother’s similar behavior immature and thinks it’s nutritious to eat only French fries for dinner but also thinks he’s qualified to question how I let his brother only eat one broccoli spear (“When I was his age, you made me eat all of them!”). He’s also an introvert. During the day, he moves from (1) his desk, next to his bed; (2) to his…

What we remember as the past cannot actually be “past” because we are continuously making and remaking that story.

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Four African American women seated on steps of building at Atlanta University, Georgia (circa 1900)

When I was a child, I felt that I was always at the whims and mercies of the adults around me, pushed and pulled and prodded and poked with very little agency. I sought out clandestine ways to exercise autonomy wherever I could: hiding medicine under my tongue until I could get to the bathroom to spit it out; wearing green socks instead of pink to ballet, hoping no one noticed; drawing the water for a bath and sitting on the…

I was afraid that her releasing her locs was also a way for her to release me.

Most say that my thirteen-year-old daughter looks like me. While she usually smiles politely at the constant refrain, “You look just like your mother!,” she resents the comparison. More than once she’s said, “No, I look like myself.” Yet she cannot disclaim any resemblance; she will admit that her eyes close when she’s smiling, and that when she’s old enough, she wants to sport a nose ring like her mama’s. And until recently, she had my hair.

When as a newborn, she had dark, luscious hair which ebbed to just a few strands by two. But during her third year…

Black Watchers are special part of the Black village needed to raise a Black child.

An older Black woman sits in the window, watching the world of the street below. She’s known by everyone who passes by, many of whom greet her affectionately. The kids on the block don’t have as high of an opinion of her as do the adults; for while this woman knows everyone’s business, she’s especially watchful of the children. She has no problem letting a mama know real quick if a kid steps out of line. The parents of the block have a certain comfort about that, knowing that the woman in the window is watching over their children. …

To be White with an illegitimate grievance is to be untouchable. But to be Black, living under conditions of legitimate grievance, is to be under threat of death.

white nationalist rioters at the capitol building on january 6, 2021
white nationalist rioters at the capitol building on january 6, 2021

On January 6, I watched, on national TV, White Nationalist Terrorists walk and run and push their way into the Capitol building in Washington D.C. Egged on by their Grand Wizard, they engaged in “trial by combat”, violent insurrection, exactly as the GW’s should-be-disbarred lawyer instructed them to do. They scaled walls (not always successfully), broke windows, crushed a woman to death, beat a Black woman bystander, and killed a police officer.

Stop ignoring Black and Brown children’s pandemic pain by assuming the depressed or anxious pandemic child is White

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The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately punished BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and non-Black people of color) communities. According to CDC data as of November 30, COVID-19 infects, hospitalizes and kills BIPOCs at rates many times over the rates for White people. Generations of neglect and malevolence provide the backdrop for this calamity: medical neglect resulting in pre-existing conditions that make COVID-19 more dangerous to BIPOC bodies; urban neglect resulting in overcrowded housing and thus more disease spread; and economic neglect making BIPOC folks more susceptible to the crippling forces of pandemic-based unemployment.

We now know that BIPOC people fare worse in the…

“Proximity to Whiteness is often both physically and symbolically violent to Black people.”

Black and white girls looking at each other in a classroom. Probably in the late 1950s.
Black and white girls looking at each other in a classroom. Probably in the late 1950s.

When I was deciding on where I should start my graduate studies, Palo Alto, California seemed to me like a good place to be. At the time, my children were 19 months old and newborn, and it would be years until I enrolled them and their younger brother in school. But my program would take at least seven years and thus it was important to me to understand the stock of “good” schools where we chose to live. …

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Photo by Andras Vas on Unsplash

I was drawn in by the photo of the tall young Black man with a red tie, staring wistfully into the ether, and his mother, a black woman, statuesque, perfectly coiffed and staring straight into the camera. I was intrigued by the headline, “A Black Student’s Mother Complained About ‘Fences.’ He Was Expelled” , which drew me in even further. …

LaToya Baldwin Clark

Law professor. Teach and write about the law of educational inequality, property and the family. Mom of 3. Amateur artist. All opinions my own.

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