Posts Tagged ‘justice’

Sunday Sit-Down #14:

April 25, 2021

Each Sunday, I’m working my way through my experiences with race. I’ll share stories and memories from throughout my life. I know I’ll encounter moments of growth that I wish I could relive. I’ll also have to think back on choices that I wish I could remake. Come join me each week.

I remember in college
having room in my schedule
for a couple of extra classes
so I signed up for
multi-culti studies

which is where I first learned

about white apologizing
and also what-about-ism
masked as curiosity

and I remember
how hard I worked
to understand criticism of
dominant culture

and I remember I tried so hard
with my Nation of Islam paper
to understand how people could
hate my people
so very much
that I almost explained it away,
rationalized the caricatures
in the Final Call comic strips

but Professor McCarthy said
no
sometimes prejudice is what it is,
regardless of
whether it comes from the disempowered
and I thought

huh

well I guess that’s something new.

And I remember trying to make sure
my student teaching experience
brought questions of diversity past
FOODFOLKSFUN
so we had a debate about immigration
which was actually pretty eye-opening
(as a matter of fact,
so were the swastika doodles
one of my loveys drew in his notebook)

and I also realized
that for most of my kids
the question was not about color of skin
but the freeness of their lunch

(and something tells me
much of that is still the case,
and that if people really figured out
that the shaft is given
to people across the racial rainbow
some folks would
really be in trouble)

so sometimes what they needed was
to keep making their
New Year’s Dragons, their
Kente cloths, their
tissue paper flowers

as long as the love poured free
and so did the morning snacks.

Poetry Month Day 24: Repairing the World

April 24, 2021

There was a lot that I enjoyed about writing today’s poem. For one, it came as a surprising counterbalance to yesterday’s post. I also gathered inspiration from my time today with an incredible group of educators through the Just Schools Cohort. The work my colleagues do inspires me to do better, to be better.

That, and the fact that I’m a complete math geek at the heart of things. It’s nice when I can flex that muscle every so often.

Those who wish to perfect this world
who wish it to be
smooth and round and beautiful
forget that a perfect sphere is only
a thing
mathematically:

understand. A circle
is but a collection of points,
the round world a fractal consisting of
infinite corners, with
infinite spaces between them

(and no matter how close those points stand,
we can find infinite points between them,
and points between them,
which is why pi is such a big deal anyway)

so maybe the question is not
about making our world
perfect and round

but

whether we can
connect those corners
those tiny spaces
within and
between
our selves
and others,
bending into formation,
connecting
point to
point to
point

and

perhaps,
rather than a sphere,
the shape of a perfect world

is an arc

Sunday Sit-Down #13: All The World

April 11, 2021

Each Sunday, I’m working my way through my experiences with race. I’ll share stories and memories from throughout my life. I know I’ll encounter moments of growth that I wish I could relive. I’ll also have to think back on choices that I wish I could remake. Come join me each week.


All the world is a very narrow bridge*

between the world as I know it
and the one too many others live

between power of identity
and the insistent tug of justice

between guilt for sins of fathers and mothers
and the compelling urge to act, to do

between apologies for who I am, what I represent
and the abiding sense of right and wrong

between my moral compass
and true north, shifting beneath my feet

between the self I am
and the one this world needs me to be

the important part is not to be afraid


*Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav

Poetry Month Day 10: The Work is Great

April 10, 2021

Today, I had the privilege of working again with other leaders from my Just Schools Cohort. Together, we’re working across districts to advance equity and justice in schools. This team of professionals…they’re amazing. And even on days where I feel discouraged about my own work, and my own progress, they are there to remind me that building a more just society is HARD. That we have a LOT of work to do. But that we can – and MUST – do it together. They inspire me.

It brings to mind a line from Pirkei Avot, a collection of Jewish teachings. Rabbi Tarfon said: “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” This Golden Shovel poem is my tribute to the incredible efforts of my colleagues.

Cathedral Rocks by Albert Bierstadt

When you stand at the base of a mountain, you
can’t ever see the top. Your feet are
just plunking down one after the other, not
knowing when-how-if they’ll arrive. They just know they’re obligated
by faith to
get you to a place where the work is complete
and whole and holy. The
temptation to be solitary in your work
is great, but
you know this journey is neither
easy nor short. So you are
going to need others with you,
others who know the only way to be free
is to
be strong, be strong, that our strength never allows us to desist
from the lifedream of reaching that mountain top, or from
the struggle of climbing it.