I am white. I was raised in a family that while we had some financial issues they never made it to me. I have tenure. I have an aggressively strong union. I have parents who could house me if my house burned down. I am infinitely hirable. I could, if I chose, stop teaching and go back to school full time. I have less than $5,000 dollars in student loans left. This is all to say my social and life safety net is really just a bed maybe 3 feet below me. I am v safe.
I have been engaging more in the anti-racism work happening in edu-twitter (also in my school and classroom) and more specifically I have been working to engage others in the #MTBoS in this work. One big push back I get is that people don’t want to fuck up. They don’t want to say the wrong thing. I think there are two big pieces of this:
- We (white people) don’t want to be called out. I am sitting here trying to phrase this nicely but come on, DEAL WITH IT. Being called out is a chance to grow. No one on twitter expects you to say the right thing all the time. I’ve been called out at least three times in the last month by Black Women who I like and respect and want to like and respect me. You know what? I am fine. It sucked in the moment and I had to apologize but I won’t do it again which makes there conversations easier everyday. Maybe some people like me less because of something I said. You know what? That doesn’t affect the need for me to keep trying and the need for us as teachers to keep doing this work. I will keep trying and maybe people will like me again and maybe they won’t because and that’s okay, I’m an adult. I don’t need everyone on twitter to like me.
- We are afraid of being called racist. Here we go, if you are a white teacher you are racist. I am a racist. Look I did it. I called you a racist. I called myself a racist. We all survived. Now move on and do the work.
Back to the start of this: If you are a white teacher you almost definitely have a safety net big enough to get involved. So do it. Join #CleartheAir chat. Find some people on #educolor to follow and retweet and reply. As Aminatou Sow says, “read a book” but then get on twitter and share some thoughts. If you’re looking for more ways to get involved or people to follow tweet at me. I’ll help.