From Where I Stand #sol20
June 2, 2020
I’ve been mostly silent and struggling the last few days. I come from a place of privilege. Like all of us, I was born into certain circumstance, mostly advantageous. Unlike some, I was raised by parents who believed that giving back, paying forward, and deeply committing to civil rights of all was not a suggestion, but a obligation. Their’s was a life driven by faith and made flesh with action. I learned from them.
I have spent most of my career as an educator, trying to know students personally. Committing to causes that promoted the welfare of children and their families. Rising up my fellow humans. Some of that work has been with under resourced families. Some of that has been with student for which learning has been a struggle. I hope all of it has been from a place of deep personal connection.
But now my ‘color-blindness’ is not enough. So I turned to the only thing I know how to do: connect with students and families and share books.
Quite a few times in my career, I have sat across from parents and been told I don’t understand the experience of their family, their culture, their lives. They were right. In all of my days, with my best empathy, in my finest moments, I still am privileged. In that space I can’t change, I hope I’ve learned to listen and to change because I know I’m a learner, a studier, a thinker.
I’ve learned from an Ugandan father who may me feel and notice what he hoped for his son in this world, as a black man and as an immigrant. I’ve learned from a young African reader who desperately wanted to see himself and his people in the books he read. I’ve learned from my book review group, TeachersBooksReaders, to celebrate own voices and let books speak when I don’t have the authority to teach. I’ve learned from my friends, my writing group here, and the talks, books and individuals that I have followed, listen to and learned from. These experiences and people, I hope, have made me a better ally, a better advocate, a better human.
I won’t be protesting in the streets. That’s not my strength. I stand with those who do.
I will be making conscious choices: Choice about what authors to share, what conversations to boldly have, what deeply personal learning and soul-searching I’ll do as I interact with our most important resource, our future, our students.
My hope is that my actions will make a difference. Maybe the differences won’t be as quickly realized as many would hope. I pray that they will be long lasting.