Tomorrow will mark just one week since we all voted in the 2016 presidential election. We are all in varying states of response or reaction. Many of us may be already asking what is next? What should we do? Who is safe or who isn’t? Our emotions may fluctuate from moment to moment depending on where we are or who we are with. All of this is happening to us as adults, and so we ask, how are the children?
We all cope in different ways. We may be offered advice from well-meaning folks telling us “it will be ok”, “we need to do something” or worse yet “just move on.” As teachers we might even be saying that to our students but the question becomes, is any of this true or accurate? Before last week most of us believed that a Trump presidency was an impossibility, but we were proven wrong and now the future remains uncertain. Last week, we unveiled our approach to coping post-election and beyond:
The CREAD “we gon’ be alright” educator as activist stay woke plan for demolishing white supremacy, patriarchy, and institutional racism in the pursuit for freedom and liberation for Diasporic people.
This week we begin our six-part series leading up to the 2017 Presidential inauguration. Our goal is to support our readers in working through the psycho-emotional phases of this particularly savage socio-political context. Our belief in liberation pedagogy has set us up for a time like this. Paulo Freire states, “No pedagogy which is truly liberating can remain distant from the oppressed by treating them as unfortunates and by presenting for their emulation models from among the oppressors. The oppressed must be their own examples in the struggle for their redemption.” (Freire, 1970, Pg. 54 )
As we all settle into this new reality, we must ensure that we do not accept it as the “new normal”. We cannot normalize hate, by saying that things “will be ok” or as the trusty pundits have asked, “to give him a chance.” Once again, as Freire has commanded, “the educator has the duty of not being neutral.” We cannot wait and see, we must act! However, in this season, as we are still stunned by our new reality we must strike a balance between feeling what we feel and acting. We must be strategic in our actions which requires us to gain clarity about our feelings collectively: our students, our families and our communities.
The Huffington Post has given us 11 ways Black people can practice self care in the wake of Trump’s win. We here at CREAD suggest anything that you do for yourself, you create the space in your classrooms and schools for students to access that self care also. Here’s our take on practicing self care with our students:
1. Buy something empowering from a black-owned store in your community or online, like Philadelphia Print Works.
Make time for students to demonstrate their racial and cultural pride with a thematic t-shirt day. Encourage students to investigate the black-owned businesses in and around their communities and online and create a campaign to shop at these businesses for the holidays. Check out Naomi Moyer’s shop on Etsy.
2. Donate or Volunteer.
Organize a fundraiser for students to donate money to organizations that are directly working towards the betterment of the lives of people of the Diaspora. Have the students ideate and investigate organizations to donate to and come up with ways to fundraise. Make it a big deal, see if someone representing the organization will come to the school to accept the donation or if the students can visit the organization, Start locally, which organizations are in the neighborhood? We suggest supporting your local Black Lives Matter
3. Follow these helpful steps to self-care after race-based emotional and psychological trauma, from blogger Jasmine Brown:
Engage the students in an assignment around how to take care of self, when going through trauma. Ask them to identify the ways they make themselves feel better, may it be through writing, listening to music, dancing, drawing, sleeping, talking. They can create a student version of self care steps. And if you’re a real OG this could be specific to race-based emotional and psychological trauma. Remind them of those old negro spirituals and ways to engage in #blackjoy. This weekend we saw Almost Christmas and at dinner afterwards, talked about all the great things that come with being black.
4. Reminisce on President Obama’s blackest moments in the White House.
We have about 70 days until the President-Elect is inaugurated until then let’s reminisce about the ways the Obama family has inspired us. Students could write letters of thanks to the Obamas and send them to the White House. Your school could commission an art project to be placed in the most visible location of the building to showcase love and appreciation for President Obama. If you’re feeling particularly gangsta, the students could craft a concise list of legislation the Obama administration has enacted that has benefited the Diaspora in particular and the entire country as a whole. You could stop there, or begin ideating ways around ensuring those things are not dismantled.
5. Listen to empowering black music.
Charge your students with the task of creating their own annotated “We Goin’ Be Alright” playlist. Also, see our recommended playlist from last week’s post. We want to suggest “Dispear” by Damian Marley and Nas.
Don’t hesitate to try breathing and mindfulness techniques with your students. See this resource for ideas on how to get started with this practice.
Once you have identified local organizations to volunteer or donate to, find out if there are events or demonstrations happening that students and their families may want to participate in.
8. If you have to, disengage from social media.
Challenge yourself and your students to “unplug” for 24 hours and have them journal what they notice when they are offline. Discuss and share reactions as a whole group. When they get back online, challenge students to find sites, posts and people that affirm diasporic dignity, beauty, genius and humanity and share those resources with one another.
I know we are all ansy and want to do SOMETHING. Here at CREAD we believe for these weeks leading up to the inauguration that rest is a key ingredient in revolution. We must find time to engage in #blackjoy and mindfulness activities that will ready our hearts, minds and bodies. We have a long road ahead of us, we don’t know what’s around the bend but as the new school Bard, Kendrick Lamar says, “But if God got us we then gon’ be alright!”
We can hear some of you right now, but I have a pacing calendar and a curriculum to follow or how does this align to Common Core standards and Danielson (or whichever observation tool is used in your schools). Here’s the thing, you must condition your mind to figure out how you get these things done and decolonize it from the idea that there isn’t enough time to get these things done.
Our ancestors implore for us to find a way when there seems like there is no way. Can you meet with students during lunch? How about after school? How about using technology to do this work collaboratively outside of school? Do you have good relationships with parents? Could you pass along the information to them, because trust, they’re struggling with how to explain this to their kids. As Martin Luther King Jr said, “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
This matters and silence kills.
Silence kills souls, hope, healing and liberation. So make the road by walking.
Peace & Love