I Worry

I worry.

When I hear the call for help that comes by e-mail looking for a

trainer,

consultant,

someone

who can help us

“have conversations … about these areas.”

I worry.

When I hear the institution is prepared to pay good money

to hear what they already know and continue to pretend not to understand

what is really required for change.

One can always call a task force, form a committee, commission a study

while power remains in trusted hands, there to insure

that the transformation we keep hearing about

does not get out of control, does not go too far,

lest we perish

and our storied bodies turn to salt.

I worry.

When the urgency is so sudden,

the need so dire

since last week, last month

but not since 2014 or 1995 or 1986 or 1968.

When the solutions sought

are thought best to be provided,

imported from elsewhere,

laid upon the institution like bandages

with magical powers.

I worry.

When I hear administrators talk about the need

“to empower students”

and that it’s now, now

“more important than ever”

“to confront the ways”

which were tolerated for decades and centuries with nary a care

about how that looked

to insiders, outsiders or anyone else.

I worry.

When we mistake saying for showing

when answers come before questions

when there is no time for the time it takes

when power relations never enter the room

I worry.

When I worry

I may forget to wish

that we dedicate ourselves to learning as we teach

that we practice having the conversations we need

and get better

while we go deeper.

When I worry

I may forget to remind you

to look around

and consider the resources right where you are.

I bet you they’re there.

When I worry

I may forget to dream

dream

dream

Of what I hope tomorrow

might bring.

 

 

 

 

The Toll

Too much\ too many

enough\ enough\ no end

how things add up\ take their toll\ leave you drained

Not my child/ or my nephew

Not my brother/ or my uncle

Not my niece/ or my cousin

Not my best friend/ or my co-worker

Not my neighbor/ or his son

No one I knew

personally

And yet, all of them

all of them

my people

gone.

 

 

#BlackLivesMattering

#BlackLivesMatter

And #BlackDeath over and over and over

viral

and inescapable

Now makes it possible for you

to wrap your tongue around those

three bold words

and suddenly see the shadows of

400 years worth of distributed brutality

as part

of the problem.

#BlackLivesMattered

I fear the past tense.

It’s a killer.

 

 

#Baltimore

When events bubble over as we see in Baltimore I find it hard to continue writing. Whatever I thought I wanted to say about education or teaching or coaching or parenting just does not seem as important anymore.

For a time my best strategy is to listen. To read. To learn. To pay attention. And share what I find helpful, relevant, important.

https://twitter.com/edifiedlistener/status/593133184327495680

https://twitter.com/edifiedlistener/status/593734399864217600

I need multiple perspectives. I need to hear multiple voices.  The above collection is but a sliver of what is on offer. And it helps me in my modest sense-making process. In all of this “seeming confusion” we desperately need to keep working on ourselves: challenging our mental models and assumptions, recognizing what we don’t know and educating ourselves; listening more, lecturing less.

We have our work cut out for us. Let us continue to approach it with compassion and humility.

 

 

When my own words will not suffice

I’ve been fairly quiet on twitter these last few days. I’ve posted my share of retweets to the mix and have added next to nothing of my own commentary.

The bulk of the tweets in my feed are tagged #BlackLivesMatter, #Notthistime, #EricGarner, #ICantbreathe, #NotjustFerguson or #Ferguson. There is outrage, disbelief, comparative analysis, related storytelling, protest coverage. Images and video offer snapshots of the movement in progress. Real life episodes of micro and macro aggressions are shared through the hashtag #alivewhileblack. The educhatter is still going on and it feels muted, like it’s just not quite important enough to merit the same kind of attention.

So I invest in reading. I read op-eds from top journalists Charles Blow and Ta-Nehisi Coates, I study the retweet offerings of @funnymonkey, @tressiemc, @mdawriter and Jason @jybuell. I find information on everything from how Grand Juries work (or don’t work) to advice on how to address these burning topics with students to reasons why America finds itself in this pitiful state, still so deeply divided along racial lines.

At the end of the day, there is little tangible relief. The barbed comments that appear in response to a well argued opinion piece remind me that online media are not safe for everyone. The video clips of protesters clashing with police remind me that police use of force is widely understood as a means of keeping the peace. How I feel about all this is not the point. The devastation that lingers and touches every aspect of American society is.

The devastation that lingers is not of our property. The devastation that lingers is in our heads and hearts and it is painful. When we need to claim that indeed #BlackLivesMatter, the devastation is already visible and how deeply it runs becomes increasingly apparent. We keep saying it over and over, #BlackLivesMatter because the devastation that lingers is evidence to the contrary.

My spirit is so much more inclined towards optimism and thinking positively.

Yet in order to even contemplate where I will start to act and begin to counteract even a sliver of the devastation, I must see it first for what it is: pervasive, pernicious and enduring.