After a Hate Crime, This Educator Started Helping Black Kids Identify Racism

After Ernest Crim III was the victim of a hate crime, he knew that more people needed a platform to report those kinds of encounters, especially children.

Educator Ernest Crim

Ernest Crim III had no idea how his life would change when he and his wife decided to spend a night out playing cornhole. A disagreement about one of the cornhole bags led to a hate crime and blatant racism in July 2016.

A white woman repeatedly called Crim the N-word, despite being in a group with Black friends and at an event with predominately Black people. Crim, frustrated and in disbelief, recorded the incident as proof that he was not the aggressor and posted the video asking for help identifying the woman.

"I posted the video on my Facebook as a plea for help," says Crim. "I was not going down like that, and this person needed to be arrested."

The video went viral, being viewed over 700,000 times. The woman was eventually charged and found guilty of misdemeanor battery but acquitted of felony hate-crime counts. She was sentenced to 90 days in jail and one year of probation in 2017.

Turning Hate Into Black History Education

After that incident, Crim felt compelled to post content online about his experiences as a Black man and parent.

"I started speaking up because people would reach out to hear my story," says Crim. "It was a snowball effect. I posted with intensity, and people reached out to share their racism stories. It helped more parents feel comfortable sharing what their children were going through."

Crim started a black student union at school and found out that children also dealt with racism similarly. Because they were kids or because they didn't record it, it was being treated as an afterthought. That understanding shifted the focus of his work to identifying, addressing, and giving parents tools to fight racism in their children's schools.

Crim wanted to build a platform that shows someone else's racism does not reflect who we are as Black people—it reflects who they are. And he wanted to share what Black folks need to know about themselves historically.

Crim was a former Chicagoland teacher who transitioned to being an education consultant and Black history content creator over the last six years. Crim became an independent educator because he didn't want to worry about supervisors, school boards, or the government.

"I wanted to go directly to the people," says Crim. "Through Black history, we're able to uncover the things we need to apply to this era to be successful as a community. Why else would they be trying so hard to ban us from learning about our history?"

Crim's built an audience of 316,000 followers on TikTok and another 40,000 on Instagram. He shares educational videos about Black history, systematic inequality, and what parents need to know about the Black history education their children may be receiving.

Crim's Advice on Identifying Children Experiencing Racism

Don't ask surface questions. Every parent can ask questions to identify if their child may be experiencing racism at school. Crim notes that children don't understand the system of racism, but they do understand bullying and treating people differently.

He says that, as parents, we tend to ask general questions such as, "How is your day?" but we also need to ask more profound questions.

"I think it's important every single day you have to check in with your child. My wife and I do," says Crim. "Check the temperature: ask them how they're doing and keep investigating." He also suggests asking:

  • What was the most exciting thing about today?
  • Who did you have fun with today?
  • Was there something that made you feel sad?
  • What made you feel inspired?
  • What was something you didn't like about today?

"I'm not saying, go in with the assumption that you have this horrible, malicious, racist teacher," says Crim.

"Go in with the thought that you want to establish a better relationship with your child and understand what's going on. Educators are some of the most passionate and concerned people in this world in this country, and I will honestly say that the vast majority of educators are truly doing what's best. But, you still have to check on your child because we've seen time and time again videos of educators doing the most insane things: mocking black culture, mocking indigenous culture."

Crim says that once you establish that relationship with your child, they'll feel comfortable telling you when they experience a race-related situation. He says that asking deeper questions also helps children develop critical thinking schools.

What to Do If Your Child is Experiencing Racism

Crim says that parents should contact teachers immediately if they're concerned. He says parents should be proactive instead of reactive.

"When the school year starts, it is crucial to establish a relationship with teachers," says Crim. "Find a way to connect with educators — find a way to reach out to them. Send them emails; I promise you, we remember because not many parents do it."

He says to contact teachers, administrators, and the school board if you have concerns. He says to be an advocate for our children and other children of color because that's how we'll build a stronger community.

"I've had teachers send me videos of them showing my videos in their classrooms during Black History month. I've seen with my own two eyes, and it's a beautiful thing, the impact this work is having."

Crim loves his work and will continue to educate parents about the importance of Black history and culture. He believes the systematic equality that's existed for Black families for generations can and should be abolished.

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