Ferguson and #blacklivesmatter

This semester has been seriously challenging, hence the quiet state of my blog for the past few months. Though this is neither here nor there because I what’s happening in America right now needs to be addressed.

I don’t know how to start this, and it’s a hard thing to talk about. But this is important, and it shouldn’t be silenced.

I made the decision to talk about Ferguson in my classroom. Because it’s important; it’s important to show students that it is something that needs to be discussed, and it is valued by their educators.

When I asked a more experienced (white, male) teacher for advice about how to approach this in my classroom, I got a number of responses. Some of them helpful, but at one point he asked me how many black students I had in my classroom.

“Three, I think, although there are other races represented as well.”

“Okay,” came the reply “you wouldn’t want to seem like you’re pandering to the black students.”

Pandering. To my black students. Because I, a white woman, want to talk about how a white cop shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old black boy. I might be placating them?

Some of my students blamed the cops. One of them explained (being an excop) how some of the procedures work– they’re trained to shoot to kill, not to injure.

One of my students suggested Mike Brown had it coming. After all, he [allegedly] robbed a convenience store.

As if stealing some cigarettes or cigars justifies his death.

This is why these conversations need to happen.

ferguson, black lives matter, I can't breathe, all lives matter, #blacklivesmatter, #icantbreathe, #alllivesmatter

Photo and caption by Dread Scott via flickr. “Demonstration against no indictment of Darren Wilson, policeman who murderd Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Demonstration in New York on Friday November 28, 2014 “Black Lives Matter Friday” in New York City. Times Squars, Harold Square. Macys”


And then there’s #blacklivesmatter, and the #alllivesmatter countermovement. Do all lives matter? Yes, of course, but the thing is that unarmed white people aren’t being murdered regularly by black cops with next to no repercussions. It’s saying “what about me?” when it’s not about “me.”

Yes, I know it’s hard to swallow. It’s not about you. It’s not about me either. It’s difficult. You want to say “Not all white people. Not all of us are like that.” The problem with saying that is that it lifts the significance of those who are like that. This in particular is difficult for me.

“Not all white people,” don’t include me in that; I’m not one of those people. This is my knee-jerk reaction to things I see that talk about everything from  microaggressions to blatantly ignorant and racist events. It’s not something that I can say, and, for me, the lightbulb came when I realized that it’s something I tell men not to say regularly when they react to instances of sexism and misogyny.

“Not all men,” they cry.

But, just because it’s not been your actions or your personal experience doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen every day. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t affect thousands of women every day.

And just because it’s not been your actions or your personal experience doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen every day. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t affect millions of black Americans every day.

#icantbreathe #blacklivesmatter


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