Archive for December, 2014

My Soul Hurts

I don’t really know what to say but their names: Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Amadou Diallo. And these are only from the top of my head. I know there are many more. Hold their names in your mouth.

I teach and learn from many young black men. I want to hold their names with joy, not with fear. I teach many black women who have raised or are raising black sons or have black brothers. They’ve held names and hands. I teach and learn from many older black men. Sometimes I witness the exhaustion of a lifetime of holding names. Names that are static. Names that never got to grow old like they did. I know this not only because I sense it, but because they bear witness to it in their classroom discussions and their writings.

I am grateful and in awe of my students’ strength, vulnerability, and most of all, their voices. There’s not much I can do but listen and hold their voices dear – learn from them. I can seek out and present voices and stories that reflect and expand on their own. My students are my teachers – their experiences and stories mold what I teach. If that wasn’t the case, what kind of teacher would I be?

I don’t really know what else to say except that it’s hard. I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I’m terribly sad. I’m hurt. But I know I can’t hold the names the same way my students have and will continue to. That doesn’t mean I won’t stop fighting for their right to keep those names whole and living and breathing.

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