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Going Inward & Doing the Work

Many events have unfolded in the past several months including investigations behind the deaths of three Black citizens (two of which were caught on camera), the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. reaching 100,000 people, and ongoing protests around the country in response to police brutality, amongst other injustices. Since the murder of George Floyd, who passed away on Memorial Day, people have taken to the streets and to social media to demand justice and to share a piece of their mind. While friends and colleagues have been posting various articles and other resources surrounding the underlying theme of systemic racism, I have turned to introspection and self-analysis as a means for showing up at this time. I think of how I can do my part: determine ways to be a better ally, participate as an educational leader in equity work, and educate myself about perspectives that I will never experience. I read, listen, and learn. Then I reflect on my own privileges and point of view. The murder of Ahmaud Arbery woke me up. Perhaps it was the fact that it was caught on camera. Perhaps I had more of a reaction because I now have a son of my own. Regardless, it was as though something inside me shouted, "HELLO! The deaths of innocent Black people have been happening for way too long. It's time to PAY ATTENTION and DO SOMETHING." I learned about his death on social media three months after he was killed. I recall scrolling through Twitter... I came across the video of Gregory and Travis McMichael chasing Ahmaud Arbery in their truck, which ultimately ended with him stumbling to his death in the middle of the street. As disturbing as it was to watch, I couldn't look away. I sat and cried silently, meanwhile searching for more information about this incident. My heart started racing with anger and sadness. I wanted to scream. WHY did this happen, and WHY did it take months to finally charge these men? WHY are the killings of Black people continuing to occur without accountability for the murderers? WHY has it taken me so long to feel compelled to take action on the subject? To my knowledge, not much information had circulated about Ahmaud's death until that time. Similarly, Breonna Taylor was killed in March, yet news of her death didn't seem to surface until much later. Her killers have yet to be charged. Social media has played a role in shedding light on these events, and it has been a tool for spreading awareness... but now it's time to see real change being made.

Racism is very much alive in America, although most people only think of extreme cases such as White Supremacy. However, in my research, I've found that racism also has more subtle tendencies, found in behavior that has been widely accepted. This article about micro-aggressions has some good points, touching on various prejudices. It's time to do the work. Below are resources that I've saved to act upon/reference over time, and I hope that in sharing them it will encourage others to do the same. This is just a start. There is so much to learn and so much reflecting to do. 75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice Becoming an Ally Black Lives Matter Resources Equity Resources (compiled by a fellow educator) Talking to Kids about Race Recommended Readings:

How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom by Bettina Love White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo If you've read this far, consider this: once the social media posts have come and gone, what will you do in the pursuit of social justice and antiracism?

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