When to talk, when to listen
I woke up Tuesday morning and held my newest baby, Dean. I checked my phone, as I often do in the morning and looked at Twitter. A few people were sharing how upset they were and including the hashtag #AltonSterling. Another black man shot and killed by a white police officer. The fact that I just started that previous sentence with the word "another" speaks for itself. How are these occurrences becoming so common place?
Yesterday I woke up, similar to Tuesday, and somehow there is ANOTHER story of a black man being shot and killed by police (#PhilandoCastile). I sat staring at my phone for a while. I wanted to tweet and express my outrage. I wanted to convey how upset this made me. Here I am with a white husband that can go to work this morning with
little no worry that he will be shot by police. I have a white son that, because of his skin color, is afforded a privilege that he did nothing to earn.
Today I woke up reading articles and comments in response to the police officers shot and killed at at protest in Dallas. I'm reading such hateful comments from people it makes me sad.
However, I did not tweet.
There are a lot of issues, specifically in education, that I am comfortable and often feel compelled to comment on. But the past few days, I started typing several times and stopped each time. None of my words were enough. I am struggling to know what to do in this space. What I do know is that I don't know a lot. I don't know what it is like to be a person of color. I have a privilege that allows me to think about this topic when I want and shut it off when I get uncomfortable. That's not fair. It's not right.
What I have chosen to do is:
-Start listening a lot more. I'm following closely what some inspirational educators (check out #educolor) are tweeting. I'm keeping my own feelings to myself and just trying to listen and hear what people of color are saying without formulating a response right away. I'm not going to like everyone's opinion. I might not agree, I might feel left out, I might feel uncomfortable, but this is not about me so I am just listening.
-Read. Not only reading ideas shared on Twitter, but actively seeking out more information on topics of equity and social justice. Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain and For White Folks that Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y'all Too are two examples.
-Amplifying voices. I'm retweeting what others have to say and getting the message out there. I'm attempting to be an ally. Here is another list of resources about being a white ally.
-Use my privilege to bring up the conversation. I have a seat at the table. This is the time for me to talk. Whether it is a committee meeting for hiring, professional development, or curriculum development, I can bring up topics of diversity and equity. How are we addressing it, or are we addressing it at all?
-Feeling uncomfortable. To be honest, this topic puts me in an uncomfortable space. I have to think about my own privilege and what that means for me, my family, my profession. I have to confront biases that I have as well as those of my peers in education.
It's tough stuff, but important.