I cannot pretend what it’s like to be African-American. I cannot fathom the deep emotions that have manifested themselves from generations of racism, torture, oppression, and slavery. Therefore, I definitely cannot provide succinct meaning for what is currently happening in the United States in some clever post.
Yeah, I only post on social media about the positive stuff–mainly unicorns and rainbows. But, as a teacher, I feel personally compelled that it’s in my job description to be better educated about these really difficult issues and to be more active in the discourse to help improve our society, instead of sitting silently on the sidelines.
At the risk of exposing my vulnerabilities, I’ll freely admit that I am currently unable to fully comprehend all the complexities of the Black Lives Matter movement or what George Floyd’s (among others) death truly means to African-Americans. I’ve just cruised along in life thinking to myself and believing personally that all the people (no matter their category) in my life are created equal, so I’ve avoided exposing myself to other peoples’ truths.
But, I want to become better educated. I want to learn. I believe what’s happening in America right now is more than just some hashtag. I believe that somewhere in the violence, vandalism, and looting, that lessons will somehow reveal themselves to all of us. The thing is, I’m not smart enough to see what those solutions might be yet. And maybe that’s where a lot of us are at right now.
All I know is what I’ve been trained to do as a teacher. If a student lashes out in my classroom, my training tells me to do the best I can to calm the waters, show caring and compassion for the student, and figure out the source of the problem before administering punitive measures. And if I can’t do that, then I call for back up to help me understand that student’s back story to better assist him or her.
I guess that’s where I’m at with this post. Even though I don’t fully understand, I do care for and stand with the African-American community. And I need you all (particularly those of you who do understand first-hand) as my back up and to help me become better educated. I want to read. I want to listen. I want to share in discourse, not shouting. I want to make an honest attempt to truly understand, and that way I will be helping society instead of faking it by throwing around some toothless catch phrases. I want to do better than that. Thank you in advance for the education I’m about to receive, and hopefully I will be able to pass it on to others. Just like I tell my students, my goal is just to get a little better every day.