Dwight's story of how his incarceration negatively impacted Ebony resonated with my experience as a teacher. One of my best students (a white, female sophomore), came to class one day looking ill. I thought she might be sick, so I asked her if she was OK. I can best explain our interaction through dialogue.
Me: Are you OK?
Her: No, last night my mom got locked up.
Me: Oh, I'm sorry.
Her: It's not your fault.
I had no idea how to respond. The topic had never come up in any of the case studies in grad school, and I was clueless as to how many of my students were separated from a parent by the prison system. Also, I had no idea about this student's home-life. Did she have another parent or care-giver at home? Only her mom was listed on the information card I had students fill out at the beginning of the year and since she was well behaved, I (regrettably) had never called home. I spoke with her counselor who told me that her mother has been in and out of jail often and that she would probably be home once she posted bail. The next time I saw the student, she told me her mom was back. Fortunately, this student was resilient and the ordeal did not seem to impact her academic work, but it surely impacted her emotionally.