Talking about Race Matters

Here we go, Post #3. I will likely end up going months without posting things at some point, but this one matters, and since I’ve started a blog, I would be disappointed in myself for not expressing this as soon as I can. 

I am a white woman who mostly teaches not white children.  That is sometimes an uncomfortable place for me to be, and I need to be conscious of it and reflective about it, and my role in it, always.

I live in Minnesota, which has recently disappointed me as the place where Philando Castile, beloved by his community, was killed.

I live in Minnesota, which has recently made me proud as the place where a community of people have rebelled against Philando Castile’s death, and rallied to love one another and stand together for what we believe is right.

I am terrified for my students, particularly young black men, of color, and ashamed that part of me is nervous about saying that – feeling I have no right to the feeling – cocooned in privilege as I am.

I have failed as a teacher and disappointed my students of color by treating them differently, because I reacted with my gut rather than my mind, and I am sorry for it.

I have failed as a teacher and disappointed my students of color by not always hearing them when they have tried to make themselves heard to me.

I am proud of myself as a teacher for acknowledging those failures aloud to my students, and been humbled by their generosity of spirit and patience in helping me improve. That generosity and patience is not something they should have to bear, but I am grateful for it.

I am proud of myself as a teacher for working to make my classroom a place where students can express and explore their feelings about racial inequities, using math. I know I can do more.

I felt hopeless when I read Ta-Nahesi Coates’s book Between the World and Me and he spoke of school as a place that did not reveal truths, but concealed them.

I am humbled to know that conversations about race and addressing inequities will always  be a part of my life as an educator.

I am afraid of saying or thinking the wrong thing, and yet I believe that not saying anything and not thinking about it would be unforgivable.

I have promised to speak less and listen more. I am trying to keep that promise by seeking out and listening to those who are talking.

Author: Ms. P

Math Teacher in Minneapolis, MN.

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