I received an email that I would have loved to have written about today. It spoke to me on a very personal level and I’ll probably write about it the coming days.
But not today.
Today, we learned that Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd. A very diverse jury found him guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
I want to post tweet after tweet celebrating this conviction. That’s not my place. Not right now.
My place is to listen to those who deal with this every single day.
My place is to learn. My place is to keep seeking how to better serve all students. My place is not to get in the way of those doing the real work right now.
My place is to keep pushing forward. It’s difficult living where I live and teaching where I teach to be an activist. My classroom certainly isn’t the place to do these things, but it is the place to get kids thinking.
“Why do you thinking that way?”
“Where did you hear it?”
“What is your source?”
These are questions I pepper my students with when they start in with various things. The ability to critically think, to see past the fiery words, and to really look at an issue, that’s what will carry them forward. Many will just argue to argue, but for those one or two, when I can see the wheels turning, that’s when I know I’ve done my job. I’ve hooked them on how to reason. Now, they may do their research and keep on believing what they believe, and I’m good with that process. It’s the process that I want them to engage in, not just the Facebook posts and 30 second sound bites.
Today, as I was watching the reaction to the verdict, a quote jumped out at me:
This was accountability, but it’s not yet justice.
Justice would be George Floyd not being killed by an officer. It was accountibilty, the police being held accountable for their actions. A step, however small, in the direction of justice, but not yet.
This was a rare occurrence, a police officer being convicted of murder. We all held our collective breath for what should have been a slam dunk conviction. Why? It’s never been a slam dunk. Not in my life time, not in life times of so many before me.
This is where we need to start to move forward, where we find a new place, a better place, a place that’s better for ALL Americans, not just the ones who look like me.
A co-worker stopped in who’d taught both of my daughters and complimented one of them on her activism. This is what I want for my daughters, my students, for them to see the world beyond the narrow lens they’ve been given, and to work to make the world a better place.
For me as a teacher, nothing could give me greater joy than to see those I’ve influenced on the tiniest of levels, making real change in the world.