Monthly Archives: March 2010

Speaking into the Silence

In the 2 full days since the newspaper story broke, there has been an eerie and disturbing silence in our district. NOT A WORD from our administration, from other staff members, or anyone. Nothing. The silence has been difficult for me. Speaking into the silence tonight was necessary. I went solo on this. I am reminded how the 50 students of color at my high school feel like they’re “going solo” nearly every time they walk into the school, my classroom, the gym, the art room, the parking lot.

I pressed the send button and sent this letter district wide – to every working person in my district:.
Please leave a comment if you have resources I’ve missed. Or, add a comment with your own interpretation of events. I’m especially interested in learning how to be a good ally – feel free to add your own nudge. And, thanks for reading.

Dear Colleagues,

I’m reaching out to my colleagues in the district to encourage thoughtful and introspective consideration of the highly charged recent discussions of racial tensions in our school district.

In some instances, I have felt concerned that our community often recognizes only the most extreme and blatant actions as actually constituting “racism”, excuses offenders as ‘young ignorant kids’, denies the problems that people of color present as their lived reality, and blames minority communities for the “problem.” .

Some of you know that I have been working diligently during the past 3 years to become a better ally in our school community and our community at large.

I’ve taken several classes, participate in a number of online forums, read and continue to read about ways to resist racism, and dedicated myself to being an anti-racist parent.

I’ve scoured some of my favorite resources and included links to those I find accessible/readable/friendly/pertinent to the myriad of discussions happening in public and private spaces in
our schools, homes, and communities.

Here are some sources – I promise I’ve tried to keep them readable, brief, and powerful. I know we don’t have enormous amounts of time on our hands to delve into resources. But, we must.

I hope my efforts help move our students and our own lives into spaces of increasing understanding, compassion, and dialogue. I hope that if you have resources you would like to share that you will add to this conversation with information to continue our community learning. I look forward to hearing from you.

Here it is!

This is an all time classic by Peggy McIntosh. It is an excellent exercise you can do in 15 minutes. Do it. Please.
http://curlykidz.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/unpackingtheknapsack.pdf

My friend wrote this great piece on how to be an ally. Her piece focuses on why it is important for white majority people to understand our privilege and more deeply recognize the unearned benefits of our whiteness. The end of her article includes other awesome resources for self-reflection and processing.
http://loveisntenough.com/2009/12/30/how-to-be-an-anti-racist-ally/

This link references the program “NIOT” (Not in Our Town) which has become a national movement to combat bullying and racism in schools. I know there are many programs – this is one that has available resources for the classroom and community.
http://www.pbs.org/niot/get_involved/edu_resources.html
Discussion of NOIT with some video clips of parents and kids: http://loveisntenough.com/2010/02/24/what-to-do-when-your-child-is-being-bullied/#more-1347

For those of you who are visual learners – a 3 minute discussion about how to talk about racism.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Ti-gkJiXc&feature=player_embedded

This is an interview with one of my heroes, Beverly Daniel Tatum. She has written many books about race in America. I highly recommend Why Are All The Blacks Kids Sitting Together in The Cafeteria and Can We Talk about Race. I wrote a ‘book review’ for a local class (Racial Healing) on Can We Talk About Race – feel free to ask for it.
http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-background-03-04.htm

Read anything and everything by Tim Wise. I particularly recommend White Like Me
http://www.timwise.org/ or his blog http://www.redroom.com/blog/tim-wise
for brief pieces.

Advertisements

The Case against Camo

just puttin’ this out there:  http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/local_schools/article_4346caa4-36d1-11df-9f92-001cc4c03286.html

I’m buckling in – tomorrow is going to be a bumpy ride in the HS! 

More comments from me on this when I’ve actually been in the building and have a better sense of what’s going on in response to this print. And for the record – the comments are really tough to take. My heart goes out to the kids who are the victims; the kids who brought their stories to the administration, the teachers, and school services. It’s not a new story.

It’s going to take a mighty effort to be an effective ally. Their efforts (and rights!) to be at the HS without disruptions to their education and without harrassment is a huge concern to me. I’m very concerned that my students of color will be threatened, bullied, and coerced into silence. Once again.

Listen Up:
Wearing camo doesn’t make you a racist. And, racists are wearing camo as a symbol of their hate group identity.  The gang, “Hicks” (they’ve also identified themselves as CK or “Coon Killers”), have established the camo as a signal/sign of their gang membership.
Said another way:
If you wear camo it does not mean you are a racist. And, racists do wear camo.

Let’s not argue about whether wearing camo makes you a “Hick.” Let’s admit that “Hicks” wear camo. This is a compelling case against camo. The symbol is intimidating to students. Some students feel threatened by camo apparel.

Support your friends, classmates, colleagues, neighbors, and community members – KEEP YOUR CAMO IN YOUR CLOSET!

We need to stop admiring the problem and get to work!

When Daddy is away….

Mr. Silly Pants (known as Daddy) is away for 4 days. Yes, we’re counting.
We’ve made it a good 4 days – although I now know that single mama’s and pappa’s must have a steady supply of uppers to keep on pace. Goodness gracious – I have forgotten what it’s like to do it solo (and I’ve been a single mama!).
So, when daddy is not here…..we’re up and out the door at 7 a.m.
We’re looking forward to his return home

Expansion and Immersion

I haven’t blogged much about ‘stuff’. Honestly, I’ve been preoccupied with my working situation. I’m getting closer to clarity about HOW to do what I need to do. But, there are 2 things on the horizon that are pretty exciting.

First, Mr. Silly Pants is attending a conference this week that is totally floating his boat. I expect to hear a lot of juicy details about health care in the US (it isn’t a medical specialty conference – it’s a medical admin conference). Mr. Silly Pants might be getting his butt kicked by long days of what he calls “heady stuff.” I just have to point out that the past six two conferences he has attended he spent the mornings in sessions and afternoons hanging out at Universal Studios or DisneyLand or Dr. Seuss World or HarryPotterLand…whatever. I know he brought his son a Tigger and a Winnie the Pooh from 2 separate trips. I think this trip we might get a convention center note pad.  *grin*

Second, April 1 marks the start of my cultural immersion exercise. I’ll be joined by a fabulous friend, mom of the wonder twins, and neighbor in the city of Chicago. (Her blog is private, otherwise I’d link you all to it). I think I will ask her to guest post some of her experiences on my blog for public reading.  I expect her experience in the city is going to be much different in some ways than my experience here in my University town.  I also expect that some of what we both experience will have common themes and threads in that we are both majority culture women. We’re gonna have our butts kicked too. I’m so ready for the challenge.
I’ve got a lot of ideas. And, I’m going to face a lot of challenges actually immersing in minority culture in this community in which I live that has minority population that is small (statistics to come later).

I’m wondering if anyone would like to join us? Here is the idea (and it is yours to construct):
Immersion was levied as a challenge on a video that I saw while participating in the class, Racial Healing. A group of PoC leaders posed the challenge to totally LIVE/SUPPORT/IMMERSE in minority culture for a month as a way to gain a sense, however small, of the realities of the prevelance of majority culture. Immersion, for me, isn’t about learning about minority culture experience. No. I think the best we (as in majority folks) can do is gain a deeper understanding of our whiteness. So, the thought is to read/eat/shop/sing/play/view….LIVE…..as completely embedded in minority culture as possible. So, for example, the only music I will be listening to is music by PoC. And, I’ll only read media by PoC. And, I’ll do my best to shop with PoC and buy/patronize businesses owned by PoC. You get the picture, right? That sums it up. Care to join?

Or, comment?

*Blueberry’s focused attention on his big brother at an early Sunday morning soccer game*

Wordless Wednesday

Perspective on suckage

I could feel the suckage happening at work today.
Decision making time is drawing near.
Letters of intent were distributed today.
…but I feel totally engrossed in the little guy behind the glass above…
*AND*
I had a woman on my mind today.
She was in my tears last night.
He was brought into the world by her and through her.
He was loved by her – I imagine he looks like her
I grasped my husbands hands in bed last night and asked him to help me remember her
in word and out loud.
We spoke the things in our hearts.
Today, suckage be damned.
~Covenants~

Lavendar Booties and a 2 Year Old

I don’t know how we progressed from “lavendar booties”, to THIS big boy quite so quickly. It is hard, still, to see the image of our son as he ‘waited.’ His eyes looked wise, his lessons seemed learned too quickly and too deeply. I sensed he had started with love, and hoped to honor that which he knew with the steady and sturdy course of our family’s love.  I can still remember the day I realized that ‘waiting’ and ‘wise’ look had faded to be replaced by the curious, joyful  look of our Blueberry.
He has grown. I have learned to celebrate and and delight in the giggles of my biggie children, the gentle kindness and enduring love of my husband, and the absolute joy of sharing it all with our littlest, Blueberry. We have come together in ways I did not anticipate – and we are stronger in our family bond together with “Blue.”  I feel such gratitude for the presence of my 4 children and our friends, and our family. I  am working to live with more awareness of the goodnesses that infuse my days.  This birthday set of events (playgroup birthday and then family birthday) provided many opportunities to celebrate and appreciate my family and our friends.
Blueberry’s “Big 2” with his little friends and with our family. In pictures:
Big brother Waffles gave him his first chocolate candy bar
He blew out his candles on his angel food cake
He watched the biggies and some friends build an awesome block tower
He tried to hang on for a sibling photo
He spent the morning outside with his friends, splashing in puddles
more puddles 🙂
cupcakes with not enough sprinkles (D’s sprinkle method still eludes me)
twirled and whirled with glee
and ….. well, THIS image is the one that reminds me of the fullness of our lives when the little one is in bed and there is still so much “kid” energy filling our home. ‘Tis a good life.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BLUEBERRY
March 15, 2010