Leading Through Learning- 6/6/2020

Today, I participated in several Twitter chats that discussed the racial crisis occurring right now in our country. This crisis has been something that I have not really been able to capture in words how I feel. Yet, as I watch the news and the coverage of the protests, I knew that I needed to do something more, but I honestly didn't know what that was.

On Tuesday, Allyson Apsey posted an amazing blog post on her blog, Serendipity in Education. In this post, she discusses how as a white woman, her life has been given privileges that she doesn't fully recognize but that she wants to do better. She pledges to do better by reading a book a month to help her better understand racism. She invited others to join her in this 12 month journey.

When I read her post, it spoke to me- since 2020 began, I have been reading every day to learn. Having read 24 books so far this year and counting, I realized that not one of them dealt with the topics of equity and racism. As I looked at her graphic, I realized this would be a great place to start. I went on my Kindle and downloaded "I'm Still Here- Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness" by Austin Channing Brown. Before reading it, I have to admit that I was nervous taking this risk- but I didn't know why. But as I started reading it, I couldn't stop.

Reading Austin's story, I was enthralled. At first, I started making some connections to her struggle relating it to my struggles as a Jewish American woman. But then, it hit me. All of my life, when anyone asked about my race or culture, I would identify as Jewish. I would identify as being part of a minority group. It wasn't until I read this book that it hit me. What I considered myself was irrelevant in many ways to the rest of the world, from afar, anyone who passed me who say that I was white. I, too, had benefited from white privilege.

I know this seems like a simple truth, but it shocked me and made me want to learn more. As I looked through my Facebook feed, I came across a YouTube video that one of my Twitter/Facebook friends in my PLN had shared. I met Traci Browder last year in a pd4uandme chat. We became friends in late 2019 after we realized that we shared a lot of the same goals for 2020.

In her video, Traci shared her reactions to this crisis and experiences as a African American as a mother to two black sons and a wife to a black man. I watched her video transfixed as tears fell out of my eyes. As she shared her story, I realized that the struggles and hardships she shared were ones, as a white woman, I had never even considered. My heart went out to her and I wanted to send gigantic hugs from Virginia to her in Texas. It was an amazing video and if you haven't watched it yet, you should.

A few days later, another touching video came across my Facebook feed. In this post, Jeff Gargas, from the Teach Better team, shared a YouTube video from Maurice Martin called "Color Blind- We Need to Talk." His story touched me as well. The more I learn, the more I find that I need to know, need to understand.

This led me to participate in several Saturday morning Twitter chats, including #leadlap which was facilitated this week by my friend, Traci Browder. This chat was probably one of the most inspiring chats that I have ever participated in. Educators from around the county shared how they were feeling during this crisis. They shared how they were learning to lead through this crisis. They shared what questions they had as they navigate this hard work.

As I participated, I realized that I was not alone in the hard work that I need to do. Seeing others who were as motivated as I was to begin inspired me. Afterwards, I sent Traci a direct message thanking her for the chat. She shared that it wasn't easy for her either and I once again sent hugs her way.

As part of the #LeadLAP slow chat this week, Traci asked us to share these thoughts. She asked us what was stirring in us or weighing on us. She wanted us to think out loud- what will we commit to learning?

I want to learn more. I want to listen more. I want to hear others' stories. I am committed to not only building my own self awareness of the white privilege that I have, but awareness of the struggles that others endure. That is my first step in this hard work. I know that this is just the first step and not the solution. One step at a time, I want to learn how I can best support and lead through this racial crisis? I want to be part of the solution, not a silent bystander.