This weekend I stumbled across a Tweet about Christopher Emdin's poignant and provocative book, For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood. I read an excerpt on Salon, and the comparison of urban youth to indigenous people immediately captured my attention. My husband ordered a copy, and he brought it home today. It took me almost half an hour to plod through the weighty introduction, and I had to back up and reread almost every other sentence. The dictionary app on my phone is teeming with new words I've discovered including diaspora, patois, and exoticize. This book could take me a while to finish, and I'm certain it will force me to look at some uncomfortable truths about humanity and the harsh realities of oppression still present in our schools.
In response to the shootings in Charleston, South Caroline last summer, Brené Brown wrote on her blog,
"Until we find a way to own our collective stories around racism in this country, our history and the stories of pain will own us. We will not get away from the violence and heartbreak. Fear and scarcity will continue to run roughshod over our country."She continued by saying,
Our collective stories of race in the US are not easy to own. They are stories of slavery, violence, and systemic dehumanization. We will have to choose courage over comfort. We will have to feel our way through the shame and sorrow. We will have to listen. We will have challenge our resistance and our defensiveness.
We have to keep listening even when we want to scream, “I’m not that way. This isn’t my fault!" We have to examine and own stereotypes and prejudices. Every single one of us has them. It will be tough.
We will need to sit down with our children and talk about privilege. This means honest conversations about how we were raised and what we need to work on. No blaming or shaming, but truth. It’s not productive to deny how hard we all work for what we have, but it’s not honest to deny that many of us are afforded privileges based on who we are and what we look like.I have so much to learn. May I listen, read, think, write, and meditate in a shame-free space.