TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS 

TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS

BLUNT WORDS "Day care centers have become death camps for black babies/children." Such is the message that greeted me this morning as I made my way down Second, en route to our offices downtown. It was handwritten on two large pieces of poster board, taped to both the back and the side of a minivan. Wow. On the one hand, there are those who are chagrined by the presence of personal politics on one’s bumper. For such witnesses this was most likely quite a shock. Yet such silent battles rage at every traffic light. A “stop abortion” advocate is often seen neck-in-neck with their “pro-life for life” counterpart. For every “when the rapture comes this vehicle will be unmanned,” there’s a “when the rapture comes can I have your car…” Engines revving, tension high. It can tire the brain, these moving pleas for our hearts or minds. But then, discourse in the public arena is one of the most crucial elements in solving any problem. And one can imagine that at least several conversations have been sparked by the above citizen’s written protest, all strength of verbiage aside. Obviously something needs to happen to prevent such tragedies as the recent death of Amber Cox-Cody, who was left behind in a day care van last month in which temperatures were reported to have gotten to levels between 120 and 140 degrees. The question, of course, is what? On the legislative end, safety measures are already in place, including a triple-check system in which three workers are supposed to share the responsibility of making certain that no child is left on board. Additional proposals are now on the table, including the possibility for special licenses for van drivers and the implementation of drug screenings. Theoretically this should prevent a situation like this from happening. But that doesn’t cover one crucial element--human fallibility. Watching the news coverage surrounding the incident involving Cox-Cody last month the consistent message of forgiveness voiced by her parents was striking. Of anyone, these are the ones closest to this loss. And yet, they are willing to forgive. Publicly and without hesitation. In that regard, it is important to keep in mind the fact that this terrible tragedy didn’t occur simply because the driver was some terrible monster. However horrible, this was an accident. A heartbreaking, unfortunate and ultimately preventable accident, but an accident nonetheless. But let’s get back to the sentiment displayed on that van. The idea of the day care system as a death camp of sorts for our city’s black children. Obviously, these are strong words. But if we look at them in light of the circumstances they indicate a normal level of outrage at a situation compounded by other surrounding, and equally frustrating, issues. We have scandals involving crooked day care center operators. Then we must consider the sheer volume of children being transported in state-subsidized child care plans, estimated to be roughly 20,000 statewide. Herein lies the rub. As part of a state-subsidized program, the transportation to and from day care should carry with it more than children. It should carry accountability. Working parents should be able to expect responsibility in the caretaking of their children, whether at or on the way to their day care centers. That, at the least, should not too much to ask. It remains to be seen whether or not it is.

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