Abolition for the People

Funneling Our Children From Classrooms to Cages Ends Now

Policing in schools doesn’t just feed students to the carceral system — it corrupts the very nature of education

This article is part of Abolition for the People, a series brought to you by a partnership between Kaepernick Publishing and LEVEL, a Medium publication for and about the lives of Black and Brown men. The series, which comprises 30 essays and conversations over four weeks, points to the crucial conclusion that policing and prisons are not solutions for the issues and people the state deems social problems — and calls for a future that puts justice and the needs of the community first.

What we want is for schools and classrooms to be spaces of love. Not just a love for the Harlem Renaissance or the civil rights movement but love for loud colors and loud voices.

Even Black toddlers in pre-school, as young as three years old, are disproportionately sent out of the classroom, suspended, and expelled. What they can look forward to as they enter elementary school are cops who think they are old enough to be arrested: Kaia Rolle, a six-year-old girl in Florida, was handcuffed, placed in the back of a police cruiser, and taken to a juvenile detention facility simply for throwing a tantrum in class. By the time her grandmother became aware of what happened, young Kaia had already had her mugshot taken and fingerprints recorded.

kihana is an assistant professor of Black Studies at Northwestern. She has published in the New York Times, Colorlines, The Hill, and in academic outlets.