Sunday, May 31, 2020

Respond to George Floyd Murder: Educate yourself; then act.

We will all respond differently to George Floyd's murder given our ages, locations, professions, and perspectives. What's important here is that we don't just stand passively by and do nothing in the face of this injustice, an injustice that represents a long history of injustice against Blacks and African Americans in our country (I use both terms as friends have told me they prefer one or the other).

As a white woman, I am always fearful when it comes to talking about or responding to racism in any way. Yet, my education has taught me the worse thing you can do is to sit idly by and do nothing--we must all work against our racist roots, racist culture, and racist injustice. Over the years, I have had many opportunities to do this. In my earliest days, good educators taught me about the Civil Rights Movement. My grandmother schooled me about racism too--she had many tough times in her life and was empathetic about the injustices in society including those due to racism. My parents were always human rights advocates too. At my Jesuit College, we learned a lot about injustice and then as an educator, my school system participated in terrific anti-racist education initiatives where I learned a lot. Individual teachers in my system have made anti-racism efforts a priority and they have shared their work and advocacy with all of us. Most recently librarians, reading specialists, and other educators have made it a priority to fill our online and real time book shelves with stories about people from underserved and oppressed groups too.

Last summer, I participated in a terrific online study group related to the book, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, which helped to improve my teaching in significant ways. To respond to Floyd's death in a way that can make a difference, I am starting an online book group related to the book, White Fragility. I am hoping that a book group related to this book will prompt greater growth and positive change with regard to my role as an anti-racist educator, parent, and community member. If you would like to join this book group, please fill out this survey. The group will begin the week of June 22. There are a variety of ways that you can participate in the group including a small, focused group that shares on a Google Doc, a larger group that shares via a Twitter chat, and a medium sized group that shares via a Google Meet.

I've learned in life that if we don't respond with action, our words are empty. This is the first step I'll take to work against the violence, racism, and murder George Floyd and so many others like him have experienced.

New Yorker Review of White Fragility