There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.Archbishop Desmond Tutu (cited in Untamed by Glennon Doyle)
My favorite thing to do when I have free time is read. I suddenly have an abundance of it so I’m taking advantage of these opportunities to work on the growing stack of books on my night stand. Most of the titles in that stack have to do with “going upstream” and figure out why people are in the trouble they’re in – who caused it and who’s continuing to benefit from it?
Going upstream, to me, involves finding answers to questions that have come up for me more and more frequently over the past few years – how did 45 become president? Where did these white nationalists come from in August 2017? Why does my school look so much different than a school a few miles away in the same district? Why does the prison population look the way it does? Is it really true that certain demographics of people are more prone to criminal activity? How did our founders not laugh in horror at the mental gymnastics they had to engage in to justify enslaving human beings? Isn’t racism gone? We had the bus boycotts and a Black president after all…
It seems like every time I find an answer to one of my questions, a dozen new questions emerge because I now have a deeper understanding of issues I didn’t even know existed. When we know better, we do better and we work harder to demand solutions from those in decision-making positions. And to be clear, all of us are in decision-making positions at many points in our lives especially working in education- decisions that will impact outcomes for others for better or worse.
Some of the best titles I’ve read over the past few years that have answered as many questions as they’ve created for me:
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (the movie is also fantastic)
- Stamped from the Beginning: the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X Kendi
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi (highly recommend listening to the read aloud version! Jason Reynolds crushes it).
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
- White Rage by Carol Anderson
And if you’re an FCPS employee, I have a curated google doc with a whole bunch of resources to read, watch, and listen to if you’ve got questions and want some answers….which will generate even more questions…which will lead to more answers and then more questions and…you get the picture. Let me know if you want it.
Almost through our first week of social distancing and I’m trying REALLY hard to embrace this as a new normal for the foreseeable future and be grateful for this slower pace.
Cheers…from >6 feet away.