Things I thought when I watched
the cops arrest some boys for
stealing bikes on 55th street

By Theodore Richards

where his mother is
his father
& if they will cry when they see him in a cage

all the fuckery I engaged in when I was 15
& no one put me in handcuffs

& how it must hurt so much
for a soaking-wet-120-pound boy
to be slammed to the ground
& pinned
by 3 grown men

& how long that pain will endure
in mind
& in chemical reactions
embodied memories
long after the bruises have healed

how carefully manicured the church lawn is
backdrop to brutality
(jesus never comes out
to admonish the centurions)

of the cops
& their rage
& the absurdity of their work
in a world in which kids stealing bikes leads to
privatized state violence
& handcuffs
& guns drawn:
they must be so unhappy
must hear the black girl
hair in a bonnet
shout FUCK 12 as she drives past

of liberal hyde park,
its bought-and-paid-for-private police force.
they are thinking (they don’t shout):
why can’t they just be like obama?

but mostly, i think of my own daughter
standing next to me
& wonder what she makes of all this
if she sees police as potential protectors
or these boys as potential friends
& how hard it will be to move in a world
in which these contradictions are
embedded in her skin

A Reading of Things I Thought
by the author Theodore Richards

About The Author

Theodore Richards
Theodore Richards is an educator, writer, and philosopher. He is the founder of The Chicago Wisdom Project now and editor of the online magazine and podcast ReImagining. His work is dedicated to re-imagining education and creating new narratives about our place in the world. He has received degrees from various institutions, including the University of Chicago and The California Institute of Integral Studies, but has learned just as much studying the martial art of Bagua; teaching in various settings and students; and as a traveler from the Far East to the Middle East, from southern Africa to the South Pacific. He is the author of eight books and numerous literary awards, including two Nautilus Book Awards and three Independent Publisher Awards. His latest book, Reimagining the Classroom, launched in December of 2022. He lives on the south side of Chicago with his wife and three daughters. For more information, go to


Re-Imagining Education

Empowering educators to take a deeper look at the stories told in our schools and to re-imagine them in transformative and
nurturing learning spaces.

learn more

Learning Opportunities

Classes, workshops, and lectures that help to empower people to re-imagine who they are and their place in the world.

learn more


Books written by
Re-imagining authors

learn more


The Chicago Wisdom Project offers a alternative to the industrial and corporate models of education that have become increasingly prevalent in the American educational landscape.

learn more