…her name is Corn Hole Carol.
On Friday, I spent the day as a chaperone for ETSS summer camp sites that went to play at Bicentennial Park and the Columbus Commons. At Bicentennial Park, the group of students I was with were all smiles, as they love water games and playing. Many camp staff who work with students from Wedgewood Apartments — arguably ETSS’s most high need camp site — were all smiles, too, with many staff commenting that seeing the kids they have been working with so happy made their hard work feel worth it.
Cut to a phone call we receive from ETSS’s main office. A (white) woman had called our office to complain about our children who were playing at another downtown attraction, the Columbus Commons. She was offended, apparently, at how our children played corn hole. Our children were trying to throw bean bags overhand instead of underhand, and, because some of them were boys under the age of nine years old, they were also trying to throw them at each other. There were ETSS staff there to direct the children back to the game when it happened. But, to Corn Hole Carol, this meant a barrage of complaints to our main office, calls to security, and threats to call the police and the Columbus Dispatch to report the children’s “offensive” behavior.
Almost every Friday when ETSS goes on field trips, we have to field complaints and questions about our kids. For example, when I went to Ohio History Center two weeks ago, a (white) woman came up and asked me pointedly where the children I was a chaperone for are from. This woman could have been genuinely curious, but it is hard to tell intentions in our current political and social climate. Many of the children ETSS serves are from or have parents who are from countries on Trump’s Supreme Court-backed travel ban list. There has been high profile media coverage of white people calling the police on children of color for doing ordinary activities. Almost every week when we take our children on field trips, our children, whether they are conscious of it or not, are targeted by adults due to their skin color, their immigration status, and/or their religion.
As our speakers from Tuesday’s learning session, Melissa Crum and LaShaun Carter discuss, there is a great need to address trauma in order to begin a healing process and in order to design and implement successful projects and programming for people in marginalized communities. ETSS knows deeply that we cannot properly serve our children without addressing they trauma they have experienced in their very short lives. I admire the ways in which ETSS looks beyond just focusing on subjects taught in school to also include emotional and social forms of learning, as well.