Black Lives Matter
Black Trans Lives Matter
Black Student Lives Matter
I don’t have much of a platform, but people do place a certain amount of authority in my words, because I’m an educator. Parents and teachers trust me with developing their students’ understanding of the world and their places in it. Those students are trusting me to care for their uncertainty and help them safely navigate to new knowledge and skills.
It’s only fair that I provide the context of what I’m bringing with me when I teach, so that their trust is informed.
I will first reiterate that Black lives matter. That is a truth that I teach to my students. Whiteness continues to weaponize culture and capitalism to build great power by the exploitation of Black minds and bodies. Education continues to be one of the tools that is used to curb the freedoms and opportunities of Black Americans. I am complicit in that system. In fact, I depend on it to feed and shelter myself.
How willing can I be to change a system I depend on? I must grapple with this, because not to do so would be to condone the violence it does to the black children we force it upon. It is violence to queer children, to Latinx children, to Indigenous children, to disabled children, to Islamic children, to poor children, to immigrant children, to every child that does not fit our expectations or our prejudices.
So, I teach my students to examine their privilege and to confront the oppression and exploitation they see around them. Self-awareness and critical self-honesty help us build empathy.
What I can do is use the resources at my disposal to oppose the inequities, to build supports so that each student may have an equitable opportunity. I create spaces where students can try and fail without it defining anything about their ability or their opportunities. I teach students that failure and unknowing are temporary states. I teach them to see themselves and each other as dynamic, in a constant state of learning and becoming.
We have the power and the potential to change, and change we must. The systemic injustices in our schools, police, prisons, and courts, in employment and the economy, in our political institutions, in American culture itself have been tolerated for far too long. It is within our power, and it is our responsibility, to either transform or destroy the halls of injustice.
The paradox of tolerance is resolvable: we do not have to tolerate injustice. We must not tolerate injustice.