Friday, August 15, 2014

Just Start

This week has been one of the most emotional weeks I have experienced in a very long time. I have cried in my car on the way to work every day this week. I have sobbed as I travelled home in each day. It has been a week of watching events unfold that I have no idea how to process. Often, I have to tap into where I feel, not necessarily what I feel. This week, my emotions have settled in my throat and behind my eyes. There is not one emotion, but instead more like a handful of them have been put in a blender and pureed.

Every time I have engaged in conversations about Michael Brown and the events unfolding in Ferguson, MO I have wept. Today, I reached to ask for help with this. Tonight, I was honest about my comfort level in having these conversations. I want to be courageous. I want to embrace the confusion and fear my kids are experiencing and I want to be a pillar of strength for them. I want to feel like my humanity, my love, and my care are enough to carry that conversation. But I have doubts of my own. I have fears that my experience limits my perspective. I am worried that my own story is so drastically different that I am grossly under qualified to lead such a conversation.

In my classroom, I want to forever honor the human spirit. I want my students to feel safe in learning, in listening, in talking, in crying, in laughing, and in being honest. I want our space to be one where students know we can have the tough conversations that we don't know how to have. I have been watching as teachers have stepped up to make sure we do what is right with our kids by not ignoring what is happening here and providing space to explore what is happening and a space to process.

I am lucky because even with an overwhelming sense of fear, I am driven further by the courage of those around me. Sometimes, we don't have to be the loudest voice, but we can start with a whisper. This year, I make a commitment to start with a whisper. I will not be silent, and I will not be embarrassed to reveal the honesty of my emotions to my students and peers. I will, however, be embarrassed if I don't engage. So I urge you, I plead with you, to not be silent about the issue of injustice, the importance of our humanity, or right we have to be fearful in tough situations. Sometimes, all you can do is just start.


  1. Thank you.

    ... anything else wouldn't do this post justice. So, thank you.

  2. I understand your confusion. As you look into the hearts of our students you have to know that these incidents are not foreign to them and the question is how do they internalize these incidents? I had a student state that "some teachers treat him a certain way because he was Black" While I understood the teachers's intent when wanting to punish the student. I too had to validate the student's feelings. They originated from some place. Right? These incidents in which they are exposed to whether it be the daily news or their community have a profound affect.Take the Travon Martin case. How fair do you think the students felt this incident was when it occurred? How do you think it affected their daily lives? What was the result of their feelings and questions about it? There are many students that have been affected by the many cases that have taken place over the years. All I can tell you is that as a parent I immediately reached out to my 25 year old son. Expressed love, concern,
    history and most of all life's lessons on how to deal with these situations. The first time my son dealt with being called a "nigger" by a customer in his workplace my heart went out to him because it was an issue he had never dealt with. As an adult I expressed the professional way of dealing, As a parent I expressed the mother bear protecting her cub. As an educator I allowed for his internal experiences to exhibit themselves in hopes that some of my parenting paid off. I too cried for Travon Martin, my son and the many others that have had to experience the profound result of racism in our country. In fact I feel, no, I know that some have no regard nor respect for the young black males in this country. Be it a learned behavior, internal instinct or a personal experience it has no place in my heart, life or way of thinking. You listen, learn and hope that they know your beauty, The beauty in taking time to be concerned with what they are experiencing.The more they know from what they come the better equipped they are for where they are headed. For every student you touch with that, you have affected a life. Everything starts with some thing. That 1 thing may be you or I touching another be it the student or that person with the learned behavior in hopes that its infectious.