I had a different post planned for today, but I can’t, in good conscience, write it today. We’re still seeing this pain, this injustice in the world. It’s not excusable, and it’s not acceptable.
This outrage that sparked into a flame with the events that transpired in March doesn’t need to stop. Changes need to happen, and the world needs to improve.
As a public school teacher, I have front line view to this. In fact, I had an incident that happened on Friday with a few of my students that cost me my time, energy, patience, and some optimism. I even had a little bit of a breakdown during my prep because of this.
In looking at the news, it’s hard not to feel upset about all this injustice. Most of it is based solely on skin color. The incident that occurred on Friday in my classroom was largely based on skin color.
Aren’t you tired? Aren’t you angry and devastated? Or have you grown desensitized to all of this because it’s been so prevalent? Are you numb to the pain that these men, women, and children are in?
I think of Jesse Owens, who when facing the racism of this country, persevered. He attended Ohio State University and set records there. He “set three world records and tied another, all in less than an hour at the 1935 Big Ten track meet… a feat that has never been equaled…” But he still had to stay at “blacks-only” hotels. The next year, 1936, Owens, a black man, was the most decorated athlete at the Berlin Olympic Games. In case you aren’t familiar with the time frame, Germany was controlled by Hitler. Hitler’s ideals of the supreme Aryan race had already begun to take root in the country and stick in people’s hearts and minds. Jesse persevered, and became one of the most famous athletes of all time.
I think of forty-two years later, also at the Olympics, when two men dared to make a stand, and as a result, produced one of the most powerful and recognized photos of all time. These two men, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, were expelled from the Olympics even though back in the 1936 Olympics, German athletes were allowed to do the Nazi salute with no repercussions.
I could cite hundreds– no, THOUSANDS– more instances, both good and bad. Black people have been fighting injustices in America since the first slave ship came over in 1619.
I’ve been to the Civil Rights Museum. I’ve done a “Follow the North Star” interactive program where I would experience what it would have been like for escaping slaves. And still I weep.
With the instance that happened in my class on Friday, and what happened this past weekend in Wisconsin breaks me. I handled my situation as best as I could and stood up for my black students, but it’s not enough. These injustices need to be remedied.
I’m not writing this to be a “white savior.” That is not the goal. I am doing my best to fight the injustices that I see in my corner of the world. It’s asking my students how they pronounce their names and learning to do it properly. It’s me calling out the racism I see in my own students and making sure they know it’s unacceptable. It’s me not whitewashing history, but teaching about POC notable names, whether it’s in World History or U.S. History. I don’t expect to change the world, but if my students know I made even a small difference in their lives and showed them unconditional love and worked to fight the injustices I encounter, then maybe my legacy will speak loudly for others.
It starts with me. It starts with being proud of the district I’m teaching in BECAUSE of the diversity, not in spite of it. It’s me loving on my students and challenging their viewpoints so they can change the world.
It starts with you. It’s you going out of your way to get acquainted with the new person who moved down the street and listening to them as they tell what it’s like for them to live with a hated skin color.
It starts with us, joining forces to protest the unwelcome racism. It’s demanding action and change that doesn’t benefit us but benefits those who look nothing like us. It’s making sure EVERYONE has the same opportunities to advance and benefit. It’s making sure that these things no longer have any kind of place in this country.
I know there are still differing news stories about what happened in Wisconsin, and I know people have different opinions. Do your best to speak out against the injustices that you see and encounter. Racism is systemic and detrimental to society regardless of skin color. Until we can dismantle this at its roots, then no one benefits. Only then will we overcome. Only then will there be a better hope for a future. So fight the injustices, no matter the cost.