Stealing Snacks Wasn’t the Christmas Story I Expected

Stealing snacks in school almost caused Karlton to be suspended. There are Black males who once walked Karlton’s journey and understand that often times behavior concerns in schools for Black boys is a cry for help. These are the Black males we need in classrooms teaching Black boys like Karlton.

I remember looking at Karlton and seeing how this kid was simply doing what he could to survive.  I understood that most school administrators would have suspended Karlton immediately for stealing snacks from his teacher and peers.

After I witnessed the struggles of our homeless students, mainly Black boys, through Karlton’s journey, I thought of another way to handle it.

“I survive by stealing snacks from my teacher’s cabinet!,” are words I will never forget. 

It took almost two hours for Karlton to tell me that he was stealing snacks out of his teacher’s cabinet and from his peers lunch boxes.

As I did classroom observations, I learned that Karlton and other homeless children had to work twice as hard as others to succeed academically.

The trauma on homeless children not knowing if they’re going to sleep, eat or be in a safe environment greatly impacts their ability to function.

In fact, they work three times as hard to just simply survive once school ended.

Karlton taught me that incentive based discipline programs isn’t enough. We must reach our Black boys in schools through social justice based programs.

Social justice based programs don’t teach our Black boys false incentives that society won’t offer them.


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