"Don't talk to us about looting. Y'all are the looters!
America has looted Black people!
America looted the Native Americans when they first came here,
so looting is what you do!
We learned it from you!"
- Tamika Mallory, Activist, at Minneapolis protest
True story: I hardly know where to begin.
It's June and my school year is nearly at its end. My colleagues, students and I have weathered the storm of our COVID-19 closing and the challenges of distance learning. Miraculously, we've been able to return to our building to finish out the year with the majority of our students present, albeit in shifts. Austria has come through this global public health crisis with remarkable results, not only flattening the curve but also averting the worst-case economic scenarios with rapid assistance to companies and organizations of all sizes. When I look around at how other countries have fared and are managing the far reaching effects of COVID-19, I must acknowledge our privilege and luck in living here at this moment.
Meanwhile, the US is on fire, literally and figuratively. Police brutality against Black people has touched off a series of protests across the country and the world but this time the stakes are even higher. The highly militarized and violent response of police departments to these protests in multiple cities across America have come as a surprise to many, but not to most Black folks. The shock waves have made it suddenly fashionable for corporate and non profit institutions to proudly claim that #BlackLivesMatter on all their social media channels, while Colin Kapernick remains the best unemployed football quarterback in history.
Considering the state of national leadership, the threat of martial law no longer appears far-fetched.
That's the backdrop against which I'm writing this final newsletter of the 2019-20 school year. (I promise to be back in September!)
Going into the summer break, which I hope provides some rest and respite, I want to offer some resources that can help us bolster our commitment to anitracist learning and eventually, teaching.
Here's some wonderful artwork by Jane Mount (@jane_mount):
Reading just one or two of these titles is sure to offer enlightenment and wisdom.
Another thought: I have been struck by the number of statements floating around from various sources. I would also challenge all of us to consider which questions we could/should be asking ourselves and each other. My dear friend, Marian Dingle (@DingleTeach) shared some questions which currently serve as needed alternatives to "How Are You?"
"Are you physically safe?
Are you healthy?
Are you in a space for a conversation?
Would you like me to just listen?
Did you sleep last night?
Do you have enough food?
Are you going to the protest?
Will you social distance?
Do you promise to be careful?
What time is your curfew?
Are you sure you can trust them?
Did you pack an emergency travel kit?
Can you stay on the phone with me and not talk?
Can you send bail money?
Will you use your body to protect mine?
Will you care for my loved ones if I don't survive?"
- Marian Dingle, "How Are You?"
Friends, I urge all of us us to pause over the next weeks to gather our courage, build our resources, strengthen our resolve to make necessary changes in our behaviors, attitudes, and practices that are sustainable and will also sustain us. Now is the time, history will not be put on hold.
Wishing everyone safety, well being and peace,