When we talk from the heart and not from the intellect it’s almost like the stories tell themselves- they need to be told and brought out into the light.
On August 9th, three years ago, I joined the Ferguson protests because St. Louis (Ferguson is part of St. Louis) was my home. My parents, siblings, nephews, cousins and grandparents are in the St.Louis/Ferguson area. At the time, my work in peace education, nonviolence, anti-war activism and restorative justice did not prepare me to witness the strength of the American empire on streets that I had been harassed by police on decades before.
While not quite prepared, I wasn’t surprised that police and other authorities in the region seemed to value property and the flow of business more than the lives of outraged citizens expressing their right to dissent.
Telling an educator to go into their classrooms, close the door and just teach the kids how to read, is an assimilationists approach. An anti racist approach, asks that educator, what are you willing to risk, and once they figure that out, provides for them a framework to move forward.
You’re not willing to risk much (yet.)
If I am really about doing this work this is my response and here is how I will support you.
That prior to integration Black people understood that the only people coming to save us, were ourselves. After integration, after losing control of our schools, our churches, and our businesses, we became totally and fully dependent on the same group of people who spent centuries enslaving us.
Now, the hardest thing for Diasporic people to do, is to build community. And I’d argue that the most resistant group of people to build a true community are Diasporic educators.
Getting a group of Black educators to physically show up to a physical location and join forces in order to work towards the liberation of black folks…without receiving per session for it or even worse, if they have to pay…oh my…this is probably one of the biggest challenges facing CREAD as we plan out our Professional Development and Networking calendar for the upcoming school year.
Do you understand why I feel such a great sense of shame, now?
I never learned about Mama Bethune in my K-12 education. I hadn’t even learned about her in my college education and that’s three degrees worth of college education. Of course I had heard her name, but, I mean, I could identify her name. That’s it. I knew she was a Black Woman.
I spent so much of my career as a teacher being afraid to do what’s right for my students. I mean, I did the damn thing, thank goodness for my great principals, especially Ms. Tira Randall. But I always felt like I was being extra and I was annoying all my colleagues because I wanted to do something revolutionary.
And lastly, I battle with shame because I have big ideas for the future of education for Diasporic people and I’m constantly having to talk myself out of talking myself out of doing what I believe is true and necessary. And this woman, born of former slaves, 10 years out of slavery did all of the above.
“I have great respect for the past. If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going. I have respect for the past, but I’m a person of the moment. I’m here, and I do my best to be completely centered at the place I’m at, then I go forward to […]
And because I am a teacher at heart this made me wonder, well what does that mean, for what we need to teach the youth?
How to examine and manipulate the media.
But most of all, we need to teach them the necessity of community building and the effects of generational trauma and how to turn that into generational wealth and generational legacy.
In order to do that we must teach them the following: