No Words of My Own

After waking up twice in recent days to learn of black men killed by police I have no words. Instead I’ve spent time combing through the words of others.

One of the first I read came from Rafranz Davis, Another Night, Another Shooting. She has a perspective I, by fate of birth, do not, that of a mother of a Black son. The quote that really got me was:

Discussing it and not planning a funeral is a privilege.

Damon Young, at VSB (VerySmartBrothas), wrote a piece that was shared widely among folks I respect. He looks back at his reaction to previous killings and what that means for him now.

The act of reacting to the state sanctioned murders of Black Americans has chipped away at me. So much so that everything I’m saying and doing and thinking about this right now feels rote and perfunctory. Like I’m reading from a script, or going through a pre-game walk-through in a hotel ballroom.

Tamara Russell wrote What Do We Do Next? about ways teachers can support kids in dealing with these killings.

Interestingly enough, with something like this, you would think that teachers would be thinking of their own students and closing ranks on a definitive way that lets the families of their students know that ‘we stand with you’.  On the contrary, what is currently happening, more and more, with each ‘viral killing’ is more teachers defending the police who have done the killing.  The comments are everywhere.

Justin Cohen has advice for white folks.

2.  What happened to Alton Sterling is, in fact, about race. If you are tempted to change the subject to something else, please resist that urge. Police kill Black people at a rate disproportionate to both criminal activity and their presence in the population at large.

Chris Lehmann got two posts off in the past couple of days. A Deadly Combination:

The promise of this country is everywhere. The possibilities and progress is here to be had. But we are a country drunk on racism and drunk on guns.

And together, those two things are a toxicity that will erode the best, most noble ideals of what America can be.

And For White Teachers in the Time of #BlackLivesMatter:

These issues come into our classrooms, whether we acknowledge them or not. And as Pia Martin (among others) reminds us, there is no such thing as passive anti-racism. We, as white teachers, do not have the luxury of pretending the world doesn’t impact our classroom and our students.

Dean Dad, a former Political Science professor, wrote Criminal Justice Programs After Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.

I’m no Platonist; I don’t believe that knowing the good and doing the good are the same thing.  But if I didn’t believe that knowledge and reflection matter, I wouldn’t have become an educator.

Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist, wrote Alton Sterling and When Black Lives Stop Mattering for the New York Times.

The video of Mr. Sterling’s death allows us to bear witness, but it will not necessarily bring justice. There will be protest as his family and community try to find something productive to do with sorrow and rage. Mr. Sterling’s past will be laid bare, every misdeed brought to light and used as justification for police officers choosing to act as judge, jury and executioner — due process in a parking lot.

A piece in the Washington Post gives us a picture of Philando Castile through the eyes of families and staff at the school at which he worked.

Rebecca Penfold Murray, who has two 5-year-old children at J.J. Hill, said Castile seemed to know every student’s name. He knew them, too, carrying on conversations about their classrooms and their interests as they made their way through the cafeteria line each day.

BoingBoing addressed how clearly the 2nd Amendment and the NRA’s beliefs don’t apply to Black people.

The National Rifle Association has been silent after Wednesday’s police killing of Philando Castile, a 32 year old black man who had a conceal carry gun license, and whose legal right to that weapon played a key role in his death.

Surprisingly enough, if you want to know about all the people who have been killed by police in 2016 (and 2015), The Guardian is tracking this information. You can quickly see total number as well as breakdown by race and state. You can search by individual or filter by a variety of information, including armed/unarmed, gender, age, and more.

Project Implicit does some fascinating work around bias in a variety of ways, including racism. You can take one of their tests here and gain some insight into your own biases. There is no question in my mind, even without Project Implicit’s tests, that I am racist. It is something I will continue to fight every day.

One reply

  1. […] I’ve admitted before to my own racism. I’m not proud of it but I am reflective enough to recognize it. I can feel it as I skim through Black Lives Matter protest photos on Flickr. I see images of young black men standing up, arms raised, energizing a crowd and I can feel two emotions. One is positive, a feeling of excitement and hope that this is happening. One is fear of a powerful, young, black man. I can recognize that fear and fight it. Or I can pretend it isn’t there. Pretending doesn’t help me. It allows my bias and racism to continue without a struggle. […]

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