Every kid deserves a chance at a good education, but these teachers didn’t seem to think so when they kicked out a black child from his school for his skin color. When his dad arrived to discuss the matter, though, the teachers recognized him and immediately regretted their actions.
As Mr. Jackson walked through the gates of Maplewood Elementary School in his uniform, several teachers and parents held their breath. When he announced that he had come to discuss the matter of his son being expelled the day before, they paled in disbelief. No one had made the connection between little Jamal, the only black child in the school, and the respectable man who was about to unleash hell on the principal. But now that they knew who he was, they realized they were in deep trouble.
Mr. Jackson walked into the principal’s office with his son in tow. Mrs. Thompson invited them both to sit down, but he refused her offer. He was towering over her, and she suddenly regretted accepting that meeting. She had only interacted with Jamal’s mom before—a kind-looking woman who never raised her voice and always apologized profusely for her son’s behavior despite knowing full well that the sweet child in front of her had never and would never do what his teachers were always accusing him of.
The truth is that while the school prided itself on inclusivity and diversity, welcoming children of all backgrounds to its halls of knowledge, a seed of prejudice had taken root beneath the surface. Jamal’s teachers would often tell him off and give him disciplinary warnings based on his so-called disruptive behavior. He was, in all fairness, always involved in bullying episodes but only as the victim and never as the perpetrator. However, it was easier for them to blame the bullying on the only black child in school rather than single out the white kids picking on him.
Just the day before, the principal had called Jamal into her office to tell him that the school would be terminating his enrollment due to disciplinary issues. Jamal was only a child, but he immediately understood what she had meant. He had done nothing wrong, but his dark skin was not welcome in the hallways of the school. He thought his parents would be mad at him, but when he recounted the meeting with the principal to his father, he had gotten a very different reaction.
Mr. Jackson was a man of wisdom and resilience who had raised Jamal to believe in himself and to never let anyone else’s judgment define his worth. He had taught him about the history of civil rights movements and the importance of standing up against discrimination. And for this reason, he was now standing menacingly in the principal’s office, waiting for an explanation.
Mrs. Thompson began to explain the supposed reasons for Jamal’s expulsion, citing various incidents that she claimed were disruptive and unruly behavior, such as him crying during recess, avoiding his peers outside the classroom, and refusing to participate in group projects. Mr. Jackson listened attentively but could sense the underlying bias in the principal’s words. She was blaming his son for removing himself from what he saw as unpleasant situations caused by relentless bullying. It was evident that Jamal was being judged because of his race rather than any actual bad behavior, and he said as much to the principal.
Mrs. Thompson tried to justify her decision by saying that Jamal’s standoffish attitude towards his classmates fostered the hostile environment he was denouncing. According to her, he only needed to be a little more friendly towards his peers in order to be accepted and to stop ratting them out to the teachers whenever they played pranks on him. After all, kids will be kids, and they like to ruffle each other’s feathers. It was simply a coincidence that Jamal’s were being ruffled more than usual.
Mr. Jackson could not believe what he was hearing. Was the principal suggesting that his son turned into a punching bag in order to be accepted? Mrs. Thompson stuttered that this was absolutely not what she meant and then proceeded to tell Mr. Jackson that several parents had complained about Jamal’s lunch bags.
They were always filled with strange foreign food, and they felt like Jamal was refusing to integrate. Moreover, whenever he offered bits of his lunch to his classmates, the kids would come home praising his food and beg their parents to pack them something ethnic the following day. He was simply disrupting their balance with his foreign habits, and they couldn’t tolerate it.
At this point, Mr. Jackson simply burst out laughing. Had his son really been expelled because of his lunch bags? And that sounded like another racist remark, and he did not hesitate to point it out to the principal. Mrs. Thompson knew she didn’t have anything to show him that could prove that his son had been expelled for a good reason, so she immediately called Jamal’s teachers over the intercom, asking them to report to her office as well.
Mrs. Anderson and Mr. Roberts were the first to arrive. They took one look at Mr. Jackson’s crisp uniform and began to stutter, admitting that maybe expelling Jamal had been a rash decision. After all, he was one of their best students, and they could work together to help him develop a more friendly disposition.
Mr. Jackson was enraged, but he took a deep breath and made a request none of them had expected. He asked to see Jamal’s latest test and to go over them with both teachers. Mrs. Thompson couldn’t deny his request, and the two teachers begrudgingly showed Mr. Jackson Jamal’s latest English essay and math homework. They had both been marked with a B, but when Mr. Jackson asked why, neither teacher could find a reasonable explanation. They admitted that Jamal deserved all A’s but that they’d curved his grades because he never raised his hand in class.
But this is when Mr. Jackson had enough. “I believe my son doesn’t raise his hand because his classmates pick on him,” he stated, “and I also believe that he actively avoids the other kids because they bully him. Do you have anything to say about that?” He put his hands on his hips in a confronting stance, and the teachers’ eyes dropped to his belt, where his baton and service weapons stood proudly. They couldn’t believe they hadn’t realized that Jamal was the son of the chief of the police department.
Mr. Jackson had been recently appointed, but he had already made a huge difference in the community in the few months he’d been acting as Chief. The crime rate had dropped drastically, and the number of kids who were caught misbehaving at night had almost decreased to zero. The teachers themselves had thanked him for keeping their own children safe. But while Mr. Jackson spent his days and nights making the town a better place, they had been turning a blind eye to his son suffering at school.
Feeling remorseful and ashamed, Mrs. Anderson confessed that she had witnessed some students teasing and ostracizing Jamal due to his race, but she had not intervened as strongly as she should have. Instead, she had blamed Jamal for the unrest he supposedly caused. Mr. Roberts joined in with a heavy heart, admitting that he had also been biased against Jamal and had let his personal judgments cloud his professional judgment.
The teachers offered heartfelt apologies to both Mr. Jackson and Jamal, and Principal Thompson promised to rectify this grave mistake by reinstating Jamal immediately. However, Mr. Jackson knew that the problem ran deeper than just Jamal’s case.
He requested that the school implement diversity training and workshops for all staff and students to foster a truly inclusive environment where every child would be treated with fairness and respect regardless of their background. The teachers agreed to Mr. Jackson’s suggestion wholeheartedly, realizing that they had a responsibility to create a safe space for all children to learn and thrive.
Mr. Jackson asked if he could oversee the new training, as he wanted to make sure that the correct steps were actually being taken to change people’s perspectives. The Headmaster agreed, and after a few months, the school became a hub of learning and acceptance where the students learned not only from textbooks but also from each other’s unique perspectives and experiences.
Jamal went back to Maplewood Elementary, where he became the top student in his class. He was also able to make a lot of new friends thanks to the diversity lessons that the children were given to help them understand people’s differences and accept them for who they were. After graduating high school, Jamal became a leading advocate for black rights and set up his own business, where he traveled all around the country teaching people how to accept one another for their character and not their appearance.