My family tells me that for several days after November 8th, I curled up on the couch and cried inconsolably. I barely remember that week, as I was frozen with terror for my family and other loved ones. When I told my children what had happened, my 11-year-old, an immigrant and Latinx child, asked if she should leave the country and go “home”.
“Don’t worry, pretty lady. I’ll make sure to use a good, strong lock to keep the niggers out.”
He smiled. I blinked. Fifteen years ago, I was moving into my third-floor condo in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. I’d hired a neighborhood locksmith to re-key the locks. The place was the size of a postage stamp but it was all mine and it had an extraordinary view. Below me was a lush courtyard where weddings took place. If I stood on my tiptoes, carefully leaned over the wooden dish rack with mismatched dishes and looked out my tiny kitchen window, I could see the Mississippi River.
As the locksmith worked in the open doorway, the trilling chords of the calliope from a steamboat clung to the cold river air and crossed the threshold, drifting inside, chilling the room.
A mom recounts the experience of counter-protesting
Patty Nourse Culbertson, who was in Charlottesville as a nonviolent resistor to Unite The Right, originally wrote this piece as a FaceBook comment. She says she came across a "wonderful post that Dan Rather wrote [on August 15, 2017]” about the counter protest in Charlottesville and saw many commenters to that post had only criticism for Charlottesville. She posted her response to the critics on her FB page and it went far and got to us. Her post is reprinted here with minor edits and format changes.
Race, humanity, and what I learned in high school.
About three years ago I saw an old friend in Boston. We had dated for about a year in graduate school, when we were in our mid-twenties, and on my visit she showed me photos of ourselves from two decades earlier.
“My God,” she said. “We were so young.” Her voice was full of awe, verging on incredulity. As if, over time, she had dismissed the possibility that we — she — could ever have been as young as the couple in the photos.
My response was a little different, more Shock than Awe. The younger me looked handsome. Attractive. Not just in a young-people-are-adorable kinda way, either. I’m talking total hottie.
Who knew? Not me when I actually was that guy, tell you what. A weird discovery to make so long after the fact. And here’s the other thing I realized in the moment: While I don’t see photos of my young-adult self often, I’m similarly surprised every time I do.
What’s up with that?
A few weeks ago, I placed a yellow, intersectional Black Lives Matter sign created by Matice M. Moore, a Black artist and activist located in Arizona, in a front window of our house in Atlanta, Georgia. I wish I could say the decision between me and my husband to take this action was an easy one.
In my ideal world, our discussion might have sounded like:
Me: “Should we get a Black Lives Matter sign for our house?”
Husband: “Absolutely! Black Lives Matter!”
We high-five and make the purchase.
A liberal college professor discovers the alternative right
“Straight out of Central Casting — I’m the liberal college professor, elbow patches included.” I make this crack to my U.S. Government students the first day of every semester. I am actually an Obama centrist. Dewey and Niebuhr, these are my heroes. I never felt the Bern. Institutions, for better or worse, are all we have. The perfect is the enemy of the good. Better is always better than worse — and then you die.
You get all kinds at the two-year college where I teach in New England: city kids from our blighted urban areas; blue collar suburban kids; middle-class kids looking to score their first 60 credits at a discount; and rural kids from our remaining farm towns. It is not uncommon to have gang members and militia kids sitting side by side. Hey, at least they agree on the Second Amendment….
I was at St. Catherine University last month when Library and Information Science professor Sarah Park Dahlen unveiled this updated graphic on the state of children’s publishing in the US.
Dahlen, who teaches a course on social justice in children’s literature and gathered data for Lee & Low’s 2015 Diversity Baseline survey (DBS), had invited me to campus to make a case for community-based publishing. Illustrating statistics gathered annually by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, the new graphic makes it clear that we need alternatives to the traditional publishing model if children’s literature is ever going to be truly inclusive and accurately reflect the changing demographics of the US. (UPDATE: A graphic of the CCBC's 2017 publishing statistics is available at Lee & Low Books.)
The stakes are enormous.
Can good teaching save America? Considering the number of education-focused government agencies, non-profits, and businesses in America today, there are plenty of folks who believe that this is true. I’m one of them.
Liberal white folks like me usually focus on low-income children of color when we think about saving America’s educational system. In my case, I spent a decade of my life as a dedicated teacher of such students. There were many unmet needs in the schools I taught in, and the resulting costs to my students’ education and health were significant.
But this essay isn’t about the challenges faced by low-income students of color. It’s about another group of at-risk students we’ve been ignoring for too long: rich, white boys.
I once thought we could get to justice if we could just help poor kids of color get more comfortable with their poverty.
Burnout saved my life.
I didn’t think so at the time. In fact, while it was happening, my burnout as a public middle school English teacher felt like watching a close friend dying a little bit each day while I helplessly looked on.
For ten years, I was a dedicated teacher, spending my time, energy, and money in order to provide the best education I could for my students.
But something was wrong. It wasn’t that I wasn’t working hard enough. It was that I was working in the wrong direction.
Part of an EmbraceRace series on homeschooling & race
According to the National Home Education Research Institute, about 2.3 million kids are homeschooled in the United States, as many as 1-in-3 of them kids of color. The 1-in-3 figure is smaller than the slightly more than half of K-12 students who are nonwhite, but, if close to accurate, still points to much greater racial and ethnic diversity in the homeschooled population than many of us suppose.
This much we know: the number of homeschoolers is growing and becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. We also know that many parents and guardians who choose to homeschool their kids of color do so, at least in part, for reasons related to race.
EmbraceRace asked a few such parents to take no more than 1,000 words to reflect on how their child’s (children’s) racial identity shaped either the decision to homeschool or how they homeschool.
These are their stories.