Johnny, Mikey, and Shari have a younger brother. His name is Lew. Lew just failed sixth grade. For the second straight year. He is a big kid, and when his family is not watching him, he finds things to do that they fear will get him into big trouble some day soon. At school, he is continually told by adults that he could do better, that he does not have to bully kids or show off by mouthing off to teachers. They do not understand that he is screaming inside because he has no nice clothes, his shoes are old, and his father has not been around since he was born. Johnny is the only “older” guy he has ever known intimately, and he struggles to be around for Lew because his job as a mechanic (12 hours a day) tires him out. Lew’s mother works two jobs, but her education level will never allow her to rise out of the poverty this family knows. And Lew hates it. He sees the other world in which kids live. He watches it go by every day, and he sees it every night on television.
Shari, a year older and a child herself, does all she can each day to help Lew stay in school. Mikey does, too. Lew loves them but the two of them are not changing his world. They merely try to keep him afloat in it.
Can you see Lew? Can you see his old clothes and the shoes for which his feet are clearly too big? Can you see him failing tests and cutting classes? Can you see him messing around with his friends, most of whom fear him and with whom Lew does things that will land him jail soon?
Can you see Lew? What color do you see? Do you see a tough black kid in a low-income, inner city school?
Lew is white, he goes to one of the nicest public schools in one of the nicest suburbs in our country. Lew’s mother is giving her life so she can have Lew attend this school. This summer, his two brothers and his sister have vowed to take him every day to a summer school program, take him there and pick him up, do his homework each day, tutoring and mentoring Lew until he sees nothing but the success that they will drill into his head is possible for him.
Lew will succeed, these three people will make sure of it, and Lew has agreed to let them do this for him. That’s family. It is time for us to all be family. To everyone, everywhere. Wherever you are, find Lew.