It’s a difficult time. I am currently reading and writing a lot about slavery while presenting a ton about lynching though my work with the Montgomery County Lynching Memorial Project. My English classes are also deep into the trial of Tom Robinson in To Kill A Mockingbird. They already know Atticus and Tom lose. There continue to be mass shootings and attacks on East and South Asian-American communities. The border situation has not been resolved and too many children are in government custody under unsafe conditions. Meanwhile, the recent officer involved shootings of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo, as well as two local men named James Johnson and Dominique Williams, continue to reverberate. Oh, and this week we should receive a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.
I am hella tired.
If you need to teach about the trial (the irony of teaching about a trial while teaching about a trial) there are a lot of great resources out there. Many educators and schools are sharing really helpful ideas on Facebook and list-serves. This video has great advice from Dr. Z, a child psychologist:
And here is more from:
I am fairly sure my self care plan does not involve a full lesson rehashing the tragedy and rage around George Floyd’s death, but like this article from Learning For Justice reminds me, I can’t say nothing.
This all reminds me so much of when I was 12, the same age as my students, and growing up in Los Angeles County during the Rodney King trial. I remember the grainy video footage and can picture the four officers in court. I remember them being acquitted and I remember my city being on fire. Did we talk about it in school? I don’t know. What I do remember is that my family and I went downtown soon after Reginald Denny was attacked. We drove by Florence and Normandie; things were already charred. At some point, we went to the airport, maybe to pick someone up. You could sit in the waiting area near the gate then. While we were there, I saw Spike Lee, whose film Do The Right Thing alluded to the types of explosive violence that becomes possible when tensions around injustice simmer for too long. I went over to him and asked for an autograph. He was patient when he asked if I had a pen and appropriately exasperated when I did not. I went back to my mom to ask for one. After signing whatever random piece of paper I gave him, he got up. Apparently, his guests, Jesse Jackson and Maxine Waters, had arrived, and they all left the terminal together. Years later, I saw Spike again under very different circumstances, and I wanted to ask him if my adolescent remembering was accurate or something I made up after watching too much TV. I thought about it too long, the moment passed, and now here we are again, awaiting a controversial verdict and possible riots. Have things really changed so little in the past 30 years?
Yeah, I’m hella tired.