‘What Have I Done?’ 12-Year-Old Speaks Out Against Racism At School

"I wanted to be known for the content of my character, not the color of my skin," said Daniel Pocklington after constantly being a target of racist bullies.


A 12-year-old California African-American boy, frustrated by being the victim of countless incidents of racism and bullying at Rocklin County School, decided to pour his heart out in a moving address to his school board.

Daniel Pocklington took the podium at the school board’s meeting and gave a heartbreaking account of ongoing abuse he faced at his school.

“I’m here to talk about what it’s like to be an African American boy in your school,” the fifth grader said. “I’ve been hit, chased, thrown down, and called the N-word several times this year. It’s hard for me to find a safe way to go to school and actually feel important.”

The boy was adopted by a family that originally lived in Idaho when he was just 3-years-old. However, the family later moved to Rocklin, California.

His adoptive mother, who was identified only as Adrien, said the decision to move was to escape the prejudice they faced in their home state as they wanted Daniel to grow up in a more diverse community.

Unfortunately, little did the family know, even the city of Rocklin would be plagued with such bigots who made their son’s life a living hell and that too because of the color of his skin.

"I wanted to be known for the content of my character, not the color of my skin," the 12-year-old said, echoing the famous words of Martin Luther King.

It is absolutely heart wrenching, Daniel at such a young of 12, could recall several occasions where he was assaulted and called racial slurs.

He still remembered the first time he was called a racial slur. Though he didn’t know what it meant, he remembered the person who said it.

Moreover, he also once received an anonymous letter containing an expletive and he recounted how none of his classmates owned up to it.

“I have been hit, chased, thrown down and called the n-word several times this year,” Pocklington said at a meeting of the Rocklin County School Board. “It is hard for me to find a safe way to go to school and actually feel important. It keeps happening and I don’t feel safe or like it’ll get better.”

The 12-year-old’s adoptive mother complained how despite of her notifying the principal and the district, they failed to adequately address the issue.

“He said he was handling it, that they were doing one-day in-school suspension and I said ‘that’s not enough, that’s not teaching my child that he matters and that the school isn’t gonna tolerate it,’ ” she told CBS Sacramento.

“They’re not being held accountable,” she said of the bullies. “… If we don’t start now [our kids] are not gonna have the confidence or strength to stand up for themselves.”

The young boy might be hurt by his classmates’ rash behavior but he was also courageous enough to raise his voice not just for himself but also his friends who had to encounter such disheartening incidents.

“I feel like my friends deserve a better way to go to school and feel safe,” he said.

The whole point of the 5th grader’s impassioned speech was to implore the board members to implement a policy forbidding hate speech and bullying at the school.

The Rocklin County school district released the following statement:

“We are aware of instances regarding offensive behavior at one of our elementary schools. Each allegation was addressed immediately with an investigation and appropriate disciplinary actions taken when appropriate. Following the final instance, the principal met that day with all 5th grade students to speak seriously about a variety of related topics including tolerance and acceptance. The Rocklin Unified School District is a place where we build people up and celebrate each other, and embrace our diversity. We will continue to work together with all our families, students and staff to reach that aim.”

Pocklington’s heartfelt address created waves as he also reportedly received a letter from his hero, former President Barack Obama.

One can just hope the 12-year-old’s poignant words which were ringing with a desperate appeal to stop the senseless hate, actually make things better for him and other students in the future.

“It felt really bad, it felt like you got shot right through the heart,” he said. “It felt like you didn’t mean anything in the world … And it makes me think, why does this keep happening to me, like what have I done to people to make them do this to me?”

Banner Image Credits: Pexels

View Comments

Recommended For You