My strategy was to avoid the topic.
I considered myself “not racist,” but when issues of racism came up, I’d demur, “it’s not my area of expertise.” In other words: I didn’t want to do that work. When I’d see the videos of brutality against BIPOC community members, I’d scroll quickly past. I didn’t want to think those thoughts. I didn’t want to feel those feelings.
Yet in the last six months, something’s begun to change for me. I want to share my thanks for the gifts of learning and support I’ve received in this space — and to attempt to share three of those gifts back out.
Perhaps the sense of helplessness I experienced with the pandemic helped me shift from my position of apathy. The grief and uncertainty of March-June 2020 left me raw. So, with the Black Lives Matter uprising in June of 2020, I’ll be honest and say that my first reaction was: “Really? This too… now?” Then I remembered Hillel-the-Elder’s questions of: If not now, then when? If not me, then who?
1. The Gift of Allyship
In June 2020, I thought, “I can be an ally.” Now, I see it differently.
On June 2, we had planned a livestream panel about social emotional learning and the brutal effects that the pandemic was having on student and teacher wellbeing — starting at 8 a.m. At 7:50 a.m. the panelists and I checked in, and it was clear we needed to pivot the conversation. Looking at the video now, I can see how stunned and lost I was that morning.
That panel taught me something I never knew before. I experienced something I’d never felt before: Emotions have fueled racism, but emotions can also fuel liberation.
The next day, we continued the conversation about emotional intelligence and racism in another livestream, and it was not easy, but this work isn’t supposed to be. These discussions are the beginning of what is critical to ensure our survival, to regain, and ensure our humanity: Listen to these words.
This conversation is ongoing. It’s still hard to be…