I haven’t posted in a while. I keep telling myself to participate in flipclass #flashblogs but nothing jumps out on the page. I’m stuck. A lot goes on in the classroom and I’m still making loads of mistakes, but I can’t reflect on them. My head is too full and my heart is too heavy. Baltimore happened a few weeks ago (or has a month passed by already?). I hesitate to call it a riot or an uprising but IT happened and the anger that has been sitting deep in the belly of my alter ego has surfaced. I had an interior uprising that sits under my skin on a daily basis. I have a lot more “reactions” to white ignorance than I’d care to admit. My reactions are visible in my tone, in my manner and in my facial expressions.
I knew I needed to talk to someone about it, so I’m choosing to write. Just to admit that I’m angry. I’m angry that #blacklivesmatter is a bellringer prompt, a lunch table conversation, a Socratic discussion, an “opportunity” or “teachable moment”, as if to press pause on the lives of our white students and try to get them to understand what’s going on. I don’t have an answer for what you should do when students ask about #blacklivesmatter, and I’m not saying the discussions shouldn’t be happening, but I’m angry that so many whites are carrying on the discussion as if they understand, when even I don’t fully understand. I’m angry that these headlines are just another topic for water cooler gossip.
Baltimore happened, Ferguson happened. So many stories being romanticized as if these young men were martyrs. How many black lives are sitting in your classrooms, scared, confused, angry? How do we even begin to discuss the gravity and intensity of a movement clinging to the heels of a hashtag?
The truth is,#blacklivesmatter is not about police brutality. It’s a bat signal for empathy and empathy begins with listening. You don’t have to lead the discussion or create a mini lesson around something that is probably a part of many of your students’ daily lives. Consider your circles, your reactions, your interactions and your words. How much of your investigation into these events involves the simple act of listening to others? What stories have you gathered that aren’t spun by media plot lines? What authentic primary source research have you gathered in your desire to help students make sense of these events? What are you doing for others?
I’m still angry, but I’m hopeful that others are listening. There is so much more I want to say, but I’m still gathering, culling, curating but most of all reflecting.