Like everyone else I am at a loss of words and heartbroken over the events of George Floyd. So many issues are evident here and racism of course is one of them. I read a lot of posts from social media about white people doing something about this problem- this hundred of years old problem. This problem that is so childish- wait- no it is not childish because children by nature are not racist, they are groomed and molded to feel superior over another human.
Like so many I feel helpless and powerless over the issue. Who am I to try and make a difference? I’m just another minority as well. A Hispanic woman with no influence, money, or power to end something so big as racism.
I’ve seen people encourage each other to protest, donate money to an organization, to google what can be done to help black people feel more equal. So I thought about what I could do. Because doing nothing isn’t acceptable. What if George was my dad, or uncle, or my son? I know that I would want something done- hence hashtag justice for George Floyd.
So what am I doing about it? Well, I’ve been trying to do something for the last nine years in my classroom. That’s right, I teach my students about racism so they are aware of the ugly truth when people think and believe they are superior over others. We read literature like “March” by John Lewis. “Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry” and “The Watson’s Go to Birmingham” all stories about racism in the perspective of the black person.
We discuss the issues and I have them write speeches on how they can end racism. The ideas, the articulations, and the passion that these kids display is nothing less than that of what I read in social media- wait- again I give too much credit to the adults- these speeches by sixth graders are not passive aggressive memes to rile up the masses. They are the raw and radical ideas of the mind of a child who hasn’t been jaded by society, and if they come to my class believing they are superior to others then they are UNLEARNING racism.
As much as I would like to give money to an organization that helps fight racism, I really don’t know if that’s enough. As much as I would like to stand in front of a political institute with my signs and fist in the air, again, I don’t know if that’s enough. Heck, writing and publishing this post is definitely not enough because my audience is only in the two digits zone. I don’t have enough of an audience to influence anyone- I’m not Oprah or Glennon Doyle.
But you know what? I actually do have an audience. Hundreds of little minds ready to learn and discover the world around them. My blog and social media accounts may not reach further than my front door, but I have a platform that is more powerful than any I can think of. EDUCATION!! Teaching our children to care about others regardless of race, class, beliefs, sex, or sexual orientation and whatever differences we have! That right there is what we need to do more of. I call for all educators to teach our children better. If you’re a racist or sexist teacher then I challenge you to educate yourself about these issues.
What’s the point of teaching our children the academics to become an Engineer, Doctor, Lawyer, Plumber or Construction Worker if we don’t teach them to be kind to EVERYONE?!?
Yes the world needs kindness and love and equality, but these concepts don’t just fall from the sky, they have to be taught. What the world needs is EDUCATION in order to achieve the riches of equality, love, kindness and most importantly peace!
In the words of one of my students, “It will take an ENTIRE generation for racism to end and it begins with education!”
Please share if you feel other educators need to be reminded as to why we became teachers in the first place.