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Taking control of chaos

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Society

This teacher’s not buying your kid’s supplies…

I know, I know. We are supposed to. It is part of the martyrdom intrinsic in the teaching profession. We work 70-hour weeks, we give students our lunch money, we buy them supplies…it is just what is done, right?

Not this year. Not in my class. I teach high school English. Each year until now, my school has provided me with a case of copy paper, 12 ink pens, 12 pencils, a box of chalk, a box of paper clips, a box of staples (no stapler, though), and a chalkboard eraser. Until now, I have spent upwards of $600/year on my classroom ($1100 year before last). I have ensured that there were tissues and hand sanitizer readily available. I have cleaned desks daily. I have maintained two computers and an electric pencil sharpener. I have purchased items to make learning fun in my English classroom…reference posters, a classroom library, beanbags to get the kids moving during discussions, balls to be used during learning drills, a spinner for the chalkboard to determine student groups, activity centers full of supplies. Every year, I have had to repurchase all of these items.

Why? Because students don’t appreciate them. I take money from my family’s budget to ensure my students are well-taught, and they jam paperclips into pencil sharpeners, steal keys from the computer keyboards, rip books apart, write on posters, cut open beanbags, steal the spinner, and throw activity center supplies around the classroom. They draw lewd pictures on the desks I clean, use hand sanitizer as a weapon, and make spit balls with the tissues.

In short, they are jerks, and I am no longer supplying them with materials they can use in their competition to be the jerkiest.

So, please, ensure that your student arrives to my class with a fully-stocked backpack. Because while I am willing to help polite, well-behaved students on an individual basis (and will maintain a small supply of materials for them), you need to do your part, too.

The World is Hurting…a Christian Perspective

It is not often that I quote scripture to support my arguments. They are usually based on common sense, so I don’t feel the need to do so. But today, the world is hurting. My heart is hurting. Everyone’s hearts are hurting.

God gave us guidelines to help the hurting. I am Christian, so I chose a few Bible verses to share (all are NIV translation). Other Holy books offer similar sentiments. Please go read them for yourself…seriously, read them! And believe it or not, Atheists and Wiccans and Agnostics usually follow a similar code entitled, “Don’t be an @sshole.”

Mark 12:31: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater. Nowhere here is there an unless. Nowhere does it say, “Unless you don’t like them.” Nowhere does it say, “Unless he is darker than you.” Nowhere does it say, “Unless he is a police officer.” Nowhere does it say, “Unless he is unemployed.” Nowhere does it say, “Unless he has a criminal history.”

Romans 12:20: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. Wait! Our enemies are less than human, right? Why in the world would God want us to care about them? Maybe He wants us to raise ourselves above our base instinct of hate. Maybe He wants us to see people as human so we stop treating them as less. Maybe He wants us to evolve.

Zechariah 8:17: Do not plot evil against each other. Well, that one is straightforward, isn’t it?

1 John 3:17: If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?
and
Proverbs 22:9: The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor. It doesn’t say that the generous will scream that the poor should go to food banks. It doesn’t say that the generous will yell that churches need to clothe the poor. It just says that the generous, themselves, share their food with the poor. I will bet these generous people don’t judge those with less, either. I will bet they don’t scan the shopping cart of the food stamp shopper in front of them, then post social-media rants about the birthday cake that woman dared to buy with their tax dollars.

Amos 5:15: Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. This is where we should be concentrating our efforts. We shouldn’t be wasting our energy digging up decades-old police records to justify murder. We shouldn’t be making lists of evildoer police officers to justify violence against all police officers. We should be working together to fix the problem, to bridge the distance, to heal.

There is so much hate swirling in the air. Hatred of other races, hatred of officers, hatred of the poor who have less. I wish I could find a way to reach the “Christians” who fill the world with racist vitriol and anger. I wish I could find a way to ensure that our children, no matter their skin colors, would fix our mistakes. I wish I could find some faith that this will turn out okay. In the meantime, though, please don’t be @ssholes.

 

On raising a not-obviously-black son

little boy
light boy
broken

Can I still play with my [darker] brother?
Mommy?
I don’t want to die.

**************

Yesterday, while we were at a doctor’s office, my son caught the news of the Baton Rouge and Minneapolis shootings on a wall-mounted television. His eyes filled with tears and he said, “Thank God I’m light.” His comment demonstrated for me his disconnect from a vital part of his heritage. Although my boy is half black, his looks make his race hard to pin down. His hair is straight, his skin light enough to be tan, and he looks like his Native/White mother. I was a single mother for many years, and my son has special needs. Teaching him to accept his own uniquely American blend simply wasn’t on my radar because teaching him to talk to people/write/play with others/do his therapies made a larger impact on his daily life. We are now part of a beautifully-blended family and he is surrounded by darker-skinned siblings. Yet I have somehow missed an extremely important part of his education.

I don’t care what color people are, and I have been careful to expose my son to friends and experiences from a variety of races, religions, and cultures. I grew up straddling two worlds and never quite belonging to either, and I didn’t want that isolation for him. I have carefully raised him to be kind to everyone and to take a stand for right when necessary. He recognizes racism and homophobia, and he speaks against their unfairness. In my world of [non-black] privilege, I thought that was enough. It wasn’t. It isn’t. Because here was my boy, my amazing, kind, funny, smart, adorable boy, instinctively placing himself in a less-assaulted color category.

“Thank God I’m light.” Thank God the police won’t shoot me on sight because I don’t look as dangerous as other black people. Thank God I don’t look stereotypically black. Thank God I can pass.

This experience has highlighted even more for me that America’s cultural attack on black people cuts so much deeper than the physical murders making the news on a daily basis. Black people are also being attacked from within, faced with fissures between skin tones. This has been happening to some extent for hundreds of years, but now is the time to end it. We have to end it. The systemic, deadly racism America now faces is urging us to separate at a time when we most need to work together for change.

Now, after Dallas, we must fight even harder not to be separated. In the face of extremist officers or snipers, we are all at higher risk in our interactions with one another. I don’t want to live in a world in which my black son weighs the safety of playing outside with a darker friend. I don’t want to live in a world in which he is thankful he doesn’t look like half of himself. We have to end it.

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