From Where I Stand #sol20

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.


6 thoughts on “From Where I Stand #sol20

  1. This —>
    “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.”

    You wrote what I am thinking, now, too.

  2. This post resonates with me. I too try to live in the world in a way that is right and moral and just and fair and antiracist, but I too am white and somewhat privileged, and really can’t fully understand. I too try to think about the books I share and how I share them with children (and adults). I too want to do more and have my actions make a difference. I too feel like my actions are small, but I hope they will make some difference.

  3. “What conversations to boldly have”–I love this. I think there are so many ways to show up to this work, and as teachers we have unique and precious power that we can use to challenge, question, and lead. I also think there is a lot of power in the books we share in our classrooms and in the books we choose to purchase (how are we supporting #ownvoices authors and illustrators with our $$)–even in where we choose to purchase (over the past few months, I’ve shifted to purchasing all of my books from Black-owned independent bookstores). Being more conscious, as you say, and intentional in our choices does make a huge difference!

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