The Case of the Perfect Attendance Pencil

There is a little girl going viral online. Taylor James, a little elementary school black girl, was speaking to her mother about another child at school, Lizzie. At best, she has been slighted. At worst, this could be a case of bullying. I’ll include the original video below:


(If you watched the clip, please feel free to skip on to the next paragraph.) The clip, and the entire situation have gone completely viral on Twitter.  Long story short, this girl received a reward for having perfect attendance. That is a fine testament to her and her mother’s dedication to her education and development. Kudos to them both. Keep up the great work. Taylor explained to her mother that another girl, Lizzie, stole her pencil. Everyone knew it was her pencil as it was an educational acknowledgment, and it was the only one of it’s kind. Lizzie stole the pencil and continued to use it, despite being asked by Taylor to return it. Lizzie eventually lost the pencil.

Now, I admit, I was a little hot when I heard the story. I sat there thinking, “How could Lizzie steal this baby’s pencil? Me and Taylor need to go and have a chat with her teacher.” The one line that stuck out to me came from the mom: it is just a pencil. Sorry ma’am, but I have to disagree. I personally believe that life is hard enough. Kids should have a chance to enjoy this time as best they can. Taylor was right. You and her worked hard to come to school on time and earned that pencil. 

First I want to give the teacher the biggest side-eye. Why would you bother to give a child a perfect attendance pencil if it was free for all to use? Do not give me that “sharing is caring” baloney. While I believe in teaching a child to share, boys and girls should have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labour. Also, they should be given the opportunity to share and the agency to do so, or to refuse. Either enforce that this is Taylor’s pencil only, or just give everyone the same pencil. Rules and structures should not be malleable. Is this a classroom or is Lord of the Flies

I have another question. Why is a child approaching you with a problem and you are doing nothing? Why are people just allowed to steal from the communal storage area? There is a code of conduct that needs to be followed in the classroom. Why if this had been a different item stolen? What if it had been food or homework? Would you care then? If so, Miss/Mister Teacher, then you are a hypocrite. The little things matter just as much as the big things, and you are teaching your student that she cannot rely on you, or authority figures in general, to right the wrongs in her life. It is not about picking your battles here. You are dealing with young, impressionable children, who need to see that principles and rules matter.

Now mom, you and I need to chat a bit. I know that you are raising a beautiful daughter. I love how articulate she is. It was such a joy listening to her story. It sounds like you are raising an outstanding child. Just know that I am only commenting here as you put this story out there, and it went viral. That said, I would love it if you would stand up for her in this situation. Yes, it is nice for children to learn to be the bigger person, but it is also good for them to learn to enforce proper boundaries with others. If something has gone awry, they need to be able to rely on us for support.

School systems often fail black students (no pun intended) by not addressing their specific needs, so I believe it is important to support them as much as we can. (It is even an issue here in Toronto too.) I am so glad that the internet supported Taylor and stood behind her as she advocated for herself. I hope that she either gets her perfect attendance pencil back, or gets a replacement. God knows that I am glad I am not a parent – I am far too dramatic, lol. I like to think I would have contacted the teacher, and made a polite nuisance of myself, to have the issue resolved. Maybe we would need to meet with the other parent. “Escalation” is more than moving stairs, if you catch my drift. 

If you liked what you saw from our new Internet niece, and would like to hear more from Taylor, you can follow her mother on Instagram, or view another Twitter thread, full of videos of Taylor, currently going viral as well. I love how this mama is raising her daughter, and think she deserves to be an honorary “Pinkie” for how she handled herself. Taylor is also a Girl Scout, and could use your support:

I would buy some cookies, but I do not think they will ship food across the Canadian border. Please support this darling chica and show her and her mama some love. If you would like to buy some of her Girl Scout Cookies, please visit her webpage and put in some orders. 

UPDATE: Ellen has recently heard of this story and featured our munchkin on her show. She has some justice at last! Check out the clip below: 


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