I Notice

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I notice that the US President elect seems particularly fascinating to adolescent boys of privilege. His bad boy, break-all-the-rules-and-still-win example strikes a chord with many. While none of them would claim to want to grow up to become a nasty and morally reprehensible character ( I don’t think), for now it’s enough to know that a certain brand of misogynist swagger is all in style nowadays.

I notice that there were some people who knew and described exactly that the Republican candidate would succeed and how it would happen. But those were not the voices I was tuned into. I waited with the benevolent believers who thought our hopes would be enough to carry a woman into the position of President of the United States.

I notice that the voices of reconciliation and unity resonate briefly with me because society and a particular kind of upbringing tell me they should. For now they are more like echoes in an empty hall. I hear them but am neither moved nor especially attentive to their call. Instead, I listen for the messiness in people’s reactions. I make space for the anger, resentment and the need to lay blame. These are part and parcel of the human condition. To move along without grieving, without acknowledging the weight of our emotions is to fail the test of humanity. Be all of it and then consider what’s next. We don’t have to have those answers today. But we can work to know ourselves a little better, a little more deeply than before.

I notice how my teaching the presence of children grounds me like no other experience. My students’ multifaceted needs to be seen, recognized, comforted, and praised override my momentary preoccupations with myself. And I feel grateful to them for calling me back to my purpose: to be a guide and example for them. With them I remember that I can be whole even if I am feeling undercut by forces beyond their control.

I notice how I read and respond in these first strange days. In a vital conversation with fellow bloggers of color, I asserted that my active voicing of social justice themes in my writing is still relatively new in my life. I am a beginner in many respects. I suggested that I’m not even sure I could call myself “woke.” “Waking up” feels much more accurate if I’m being honest with myself and the world. So in my reading, I seek out connection more than content. I identify with stories more than analysis. Few, or better, no think pieces for now. Because all my thinking is in pieces I am not yet ready to stitch together.

These are what I am noticing as I feel my way through these first odd days. Some words I have read and heard which help me develop context, perspective, breathing space:

From my octagenarian uncle in Seattle: “remember, racism is in the water supply.”

From Audrey Watters in “Trumped Up Data”:

I don’t believe that answers are found in “data” (that is, in “data” as this pure objective essence of “fact” or “truth”). Rather, I believe answers – muddier and more mutable and not really answers at all – live in stories.

These questions from Bill Fitzgerald, “How Do We Support Each Other As We Do The Work?”

  • What does it mean to create a safe space for learning for black and brown kids when the leader of the country considers people that look like them to be terrorists, rapists, or drug dealers who should be kicked out of the country?
  • What does it mean to stand up against bullying when we have a leader who incorporated abusive behavior as a campaign strategy?
  • What does it mean to encourage honesty when we have a leader who actively ignores the truth?
  • What does it mean to educate women when we have a leader who consistently demeans women based on their physical appearance, and who brags of sexual assault?

And this tweet:

Notice. For now this is what I can do.

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